Sunday, 9 March 2008

Just for Me.



Just some rough notes of my own thoughts on the reading and discussion of education, science and authority for my own future reference.

Education. Unsurprisingly closely related to the goals of each utopia – but can be revealing as to the author’s circumstance and secondary (or unconscious) intentions. More’s utopia cannot be understood solely in relation to restraining appetite and so minimizing pride, given his emphasis on the importance of labour and training for labour for all citizens. The economics and the education required to support the economic system are not essential to a simply Augustinian view of sin, free will and pride. Contra Goldie an explanation founded in the reception of Plato is not enough, lexis and praxis exist in reflexive, not deterministic, relationships. Resch’s view of Orwell’s struggle with accepting the full implications of both economic and intellectual egalitarianism similarly suggest a symbiosis of mind and body in utopia (and reflection between what Orwell thought he should believe and what he did believe). Down and Out in P&L useful here (Animal Farm a more effective dystopia? – cf CWB and Karl Steel over at ITM on the useful and artificially constraining otherness of the non-human – though I haven’t read it properly yet).

Science was easier to separate from education than I had imagined it would (or should) be. How unique is Plato’s desire for Philosophy as a route to justice? Many/most utopians either anti-intellectual or reserve high science for the elite (ULG asks directly whether any society can afford intellectuals). Education in most utopias has a more functional purpose in relationship to citizenship and labour. Interesting that few if any provide different educations for men and women (an essential first destabilising step for all utopian adventures is a radicalisation of gender/procreative norms).

The fear of Big Science and the need for Big Government to restrain it, is interestingly rooted by Weinberger in the works of Bacon. Read more about this – how is Bacon’s science rooted in his ideas about government (rather than the other way around as W. suggests). There is more to be thought through about the machine age. Jameson’s more optimistic view possible only because he de-materialises science – turns it into a fiction? If utopianism becomes too divorced from the possible can it’s ambiguity still work as a creatively critical space (Marin) – Never let Me Go restores the purpose?

I may have fallen in love with Robert Owen – eccentric old man that he may have become. Like Ebenezer Howard he has to be admired for getting things done. He also makes me sad that we never really dealt with the issue of property. Resch is right? It is unpalatable/ hard to understand his perspective on the dehumanizing consequences of extreme inequalities of wealth. Maybe it is a matter of scale – the introduction of a global perspective would make this seem more relevant to a contemporary audience.

Law – maybe all this reading which makes us think critically about the vocabularies of power and law that we use should come earlier in the term (though the later it comes the more sense it makes). My other regret is sidelining the medieval (not foregrounding it enough) Key’s article very useful. Not only provides a clear explanation of law, but also good for discussing continuity and change over long historical periods in the triadic relationship between law, education and family.

Stanford PE – on positive/ negative – and the current resolution in triadic relationships between agent, prevailing conditions, and becomings – shorter and more uptodate introduction than Berlin (which requires prior reading in Locke etc).

Goldie distinction between renaissance and modern (rise of sovereignty of civil law, behaviourism) useful – but not adequate given that writers (such as Morris) continue to discuss the relationship between life-long education and civil law in terms really very similar to those of Aquinas (Keys).

Anarchy – can’t think of a single utopian who is an anarchist (particularly not Annarres) – find my copy of Richard Sennett, The Uses of Disorder (1976). Annarres and Urras different only in their wealth systems not their political systems (Jameson again??). The whole book is really about consumerism (in 1974 disposable pyjamas would have seemed extremely attractive, and she must have recognised that)?

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