Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thought for the Day

"Information is surprises. We all expect the world to work out in certain ways, but when it does, we're bored. What makes something worth knowing is organized around the concept of expectation failure. Scripts are interesting not when they work but when they fail. When the waiter doesn't come over with the food, you have to figure out why; when the food is bad or the food is extraordinarily good, you want to figure out why. You learn something when things don't turn out the way you expected." Roger Schank

Roger Schank, is a leading visionary in artificial intelligence. His writings are part of the website the Third Culture. This group maintains that the third culture consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are. In other words, this group feels that the traditional leaders in thinking (the literary intellectuals, basically, those who teach the humanities) have lost their way. They bemoan the passing of public thinkers. They believe that scientists and other thinkers now have the role of enlightening humanity about its ways of being.

The Third Culture group feels that the literary academicians have become bloodless purveyors of confusion. Their contribution is "chiefly characterized by comment on comments, the swelling spiral of commentary eventually reaching the point where the real world gets lost." Take that Derrida! Another way of saying this is, I think, that literary intellectuals are mired in language and are failing in their role of educating for meaning. They are not reality-based.

Anyway, it is a jolly good battle. I have noticed lately, that the headlines are full of science, full of a gathering of understanding through scientific discovery. If the Third Culture is correct, that the those in the humanities are being marginalized by their inability to adapt to a radically changing world, where Marx and Freud are no longer relevant, then what will happen to the humanities? How does it need to change? Who will break through?

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