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Thread: Are we on a “Ship of Fools”?

  1. #1 Are we on a “Ship of Fools”? 
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    Are we on a “Ship of Fools”?

    From Katherine Anne Porter's novel, Ship of Fools, which was a big prizewinning best-seller in 1962, the producer and director Stanley Kramer produced a powerful and ironic film. I saw this film many decades ago but still remember much of it because it was so powerful.

    This film is a drama about of characters traveling on a vessel from Veracruz, Mexico, to Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1933.

    This quote comes from a web site about the film: “It is the poignant figure of the doctor that Mr. Kramer and Mr. Mann have framed to symbolize the exhaustion of that old and cultivated German class that might have stopped the Nazis, had it possessed the wits and energy. And it is he whom they have clearly made the symbol of the helpless healer in this soul-sick ship of fools.

    All of this is symbolic of the passage of foolish humanity into the maw of Nazism, if you chose to see it that way, and it may even be symbolic of the eternal folly and helplessness of man. Mr. Kramer has put it into motion at a leisurely, rolling pace that suggests the cyclical rhythm of a voyage across the sea—or across the horizon less stretches of a complacent world.”

    Are we a hopeless and foolish humanity traveling on a globe much in the manner of the passengers on the ship of fools?

    Are we going to hell in a shopping cart?

    Our culture is permeated with an obsessive desire to acquire stuff. We educate our self so as to gain quick entry into the race for the acquisition of more stuff than our neighbor. We are going to hell in a shopping cart because our educational system focuses attention upon the practical problem of preparing our self for the race to efficiently produce and consume more stuff.

    Normal science, i.e. those sciences controlled and guided by paradigms, which I guess are primarily those based upon the sciences of physics and chemistry, have been so successful in meeting their respective goals that we have placed this form of intellectual inquiry on too high a pedestal. We have become deluded into thinking that the methods utilized by these sciences are not only the best but the only useful means for acquiring valuable knowledge.

    Normal science graduates too many sophomores (sophomoric—conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and [intellectually] immature). American culture enshrines and ritualizes hubris (exaggerated pride or self-confidence). Specialization is a boon to narrow mindedness.

    It is human nature to be attracted to the mere appearance of things; the survival of many kinds of animals is dictated by the ability of the male and female to attract one another resulting from the colors and forms of eye appeal. We dress in the morning often based upon what type of trial we are facing; we gain a sense of confidence when we are confident of our appearance.

    Our culture provides us little incentive to examine the common principles of our nature in such matters as morality and aesthetics. Such principles represent the very foundation for our actions. We finish our formal schooling without even rudimentary comprehension of these fundamental aspects of our nature. Not only do we finish our schooling with this fundamental ignorance but we leave schooling with a disdain and dismissive attitude of such matters.

    We finish schooling with a prejudice against our self. We develop a satisfaction only when we think of our self as being surrounded by objects and laws independent of our self. We finish school unaware of the psychology which is the instrument of our speculations about these laws and principles. We aggressively dismiss the exclusively “subjective and human department of imagination and emotion…we have still to recognize in practice the truth that from these despised feelings of ours the great world of perception derives all its value, if not also is existence…had our perceptions no connection with our pleasures, we should soon close our eyes on this world”.

    I think that specialization is perhaps a necessity but it is not necessary, nor is it health, for us to graduate sophomores who lack the rudimentary knowledge of fundamental human capacities and limitations. Also the self congratulatory attitude resulting from a mistaken hubris leaves us handicapped in any effort to develop a sophisticated comprehension of our problems after our school daze are over.

    ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ (Mohandas Gandhi)


    Quotes from The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outlines of Aesthetic Theory by George Santayana


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  3. #2  
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    Do you mean "ship made of fools" or "ship full of fools" or "ship owned by fools"


    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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    Or ship used by fools. Laziness.
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  5. #4  
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    Whats wrong with foolishness or laziness?
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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    Well ignorance is bliss. But I don't think you can be successful being foolish and lazy.
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    I suspect that most of us are willing to agree that, broadly speaking, we have ‘fact knowledge’ and ‘relationship knowledge’. I would like to take this a step further by saying that I wish to claim that fact knowledge is mono-logical and relationship knowledge is multi-logical.

    Mono-logical matters have one set of principles guiding their solution. Often these mono-logical matters have a paradigm. The natural sciences—normal sciences—as Thomas Kuhn labels it in “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” move forward in a “successive transition from one paradigm to another”. A paradigm defines the theory, rules and standards of practice. “In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possible pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant.”

    Multi-logical problems are different in kind from mono-logical matters.

    Socratic dialogue is one technique for attempting to grapple with multi-logical problems; problems that are either not pattern like or that the pattern is too complex to ascertain. Most problems that we face in our daily life are such multi-logical in nature. Simple problems that occur daily in family life are examples. Each member of the family has a different point of view with differing needs and desires. Most of the problems we constantly face are not readily solved by mathematics because they are not pattern specific and are multi-logical.

    Dialogue is a technique for mutual consideration of such problems wherein solutions grow in a dialectical manner. Through dialogue each individual brings his/her point of view to the fore by proposing solutions constructed around their specific view. All participants in the dialogue come at the solution from the logic of their views. The solution builds dialectically i.e. a thesis is developed and from this thesis and a contrasting antithesis is constructed a synthesis that takes into consideration both proposals. From this a new synthesis a new thesis is developed.

    “When we are dealing with mono-logical problems well circumscribed by algorithms the personal biases of the subject are of small concern. In multi-logical problems, without the advantage of paradigms and algorithms, the biases of the problem solvers become a serious source of error. One important task of dialogue is to illuminate these prejudices which may be quite subtle and often out of consciousness of the participant holding them.”

    Our society is very good while dealing with mono-logical problems. Our society is terrible while dealing with multi-logical problems.

    Do you not think that we desperately need to understand CT, which attempts to help us understand how to think about multi-logical problems? Do you not think that it is worth while for every adult to get up off their ‘intellectual couch’ and teach themselves CT?
    When we attempt to solve problems in physics we have the logic (principles) of the prevailing paradigm to direct our efforts. We have a single logic (set of principles) to guide us.

    When we encounter an ethical problem we almost always have to deal with economic considerations, religious considerations, perhaps legal considerations, etc. Each one of these domains of knowledge has its own set of principles, its own logic.

    Thus in solving problems in a normal science, one with a paradigm, we have a monological problem. When we deal with many other types of problems that we encounter in living we must deal simultaneously with several domains of knowledge each with its own logic, thus we have multilogical problems.

    Monological is single logic, multilogical is more than one logic.

    Quote from Critical Thinking: What Every Person Needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World by Richard Paul
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildstar
    Well ignorance is bliss. But I don't think you can be successful being foolish and lazy.
    Let me rephrase the question according to your framework.

    Whats right about success?


    Coberst, I agree almost completely. I started a thread called "critical discussion" that is about how to think critically about communication. Please check it out if you haven't already, I'd like to know what a self declared representative of CT as yourself has to say about it.
    Dick, be Frank.

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    I thought about putting that in, but decided to leave it out. Yeah I don't know who dictates what success means but in some areas it would advantageous to be productive. Such as acquiring food. You could just scrounge for wild berries or whatever, but with a little effort you could have a farm, or capture an animal. But then the definition of success seems to fall under the acquisition of "things".
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Quote Originally Posted by Wildstar
    Well ignorance is bliss. But I don't think you can be successful being foolish and lazy.
    Let me rephrase the question according to your framework.

    Whats right about success?


    Coberst, I agree almost completely. I started a thread called "critical discussion" that is about how to think critically about communication. Please check it out if you haven't already, I'd like to know what a self declared representative of CT as yourself has to say about it.
    Success is a function of the goal desired. In some cases it is merely survival to live another day and in others it is eating steak rather than hamburger. In either case success is not facilitatd by foolishness or sloth.
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    [quote="marcusclayman"]
    Quote Originally Posted by Wildstar


    Coberst, I agree almost completely. I started a thread called "critical discussion" that is about how to think critically about communication. Please check it out if you haven't already, I'd like to know what a self declared representative of CT as yourself has to say about it.
    I could not find it could you give me a link.
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    Is CT critical thinking?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildstar
    Is CT critical thinking?
    Yep.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildstar
    Is CT critical thinking?
    CT is an acronym for Critical Thinking. Everybody considers themselves to be a critical thinker. That is why we need to differentiate among different levels of critical thinking.

    Most people fall in the category that I call Reagan thinkers—trust but verify. Then there are those who have taken the basic college course taught by the philosophy dept that I call Logic 101. This is a credit course that teaches the basic principles of reasoning. Of course, a person need not take the college course and can learn the matter on their own effort, but I suspect few do that.

    The third level I call CT (Critical Thinking). CT includes the knowledge of Logic 101 and also the knowledge that focuses upon the intellectual character and attitude of critical thinking. It includes knowledge regarding the ego and social centric forces that impede rational thinking.

    Most decisions we have to make are judgment calls. A judgment call is made when we must make a decision when there is no “true” or “false” answers. When we make a judgment call our decision is bad, good, or better.

    Many factors are involved: there are the available facts, assumptions, skills, knowledge, and especially personal experience and attitude. I think that the two most important elements in the mix are personal experience and attitude.

    When we study math we learn how to use various algorithms to facilitate our skill in dealing with quantities. If we never studied math we could deal with quantity on a primary level but our quantifying ability would be minimal. Likewise with making judgments; if we study the art and science of good judgment we can make better decisions and if we never study the art and science of judgment our decision ability will remain minimal.

    I am convinced that a fundamental problem we have in this country (USA) is that our citizens have never learned the art and science of good judgment. Before the recent introduction of CT into our schools and colleges our young people have been taught primarily what to think and not how to think. All of us graduated with insufficient comprehension of the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary for the formulation of good judgment. The result of this inability to make good judgment is evident and is dangerous.

    I am primarily interested in the judgment that adults exercise in regard to public issues. Of course, any improvement in judgment generally will affect both personal and community matters.

    To put the matter into a nut shell:
    1. Normal men and women can significantly improve their ability to make judgments.
    2. CT is the domain of knowledge that delineates the knowledge, skills, and intellectual character demanded for good judgment.
    3. CT has been introduced into our schools and colleges slowly in the last two or three decades.
    4. Few of today’s adults were ever taught CT.
    5. I suspect that at least another two generations will pass before our society reaps significant rewards resulting from teaching CT to our children.
    6. Can our democracy survive that long?
    7. I think that every effort must be made to convince today’s adults that they need to study and learn CT on their own. I am not suggesting that adults find a teacher but I am suggesting that adults become self-actualizing learners.
    8. I am convinced that learning the art and science of Critical Thinking is an important step toward becoming a better citizen in today’s democratic society.
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  15. #14  
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    "Success is a function of the goal desired"

    If success is not the accomplishment of a desired goal, how can we measure it?

    I can say that my laziness is a function of my desired goal, to save energy.

    According to your definition whether or not I accomplish my goal, so long as I perform a specified action, in this case being lazy, I am nonetheless a success.


    Critical Discussion
    "http://www.thescienceforum.com/Critical-Discussion-19189t.php"
    Dick, be Frank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    When we attempt to solve problems in physics we have the logic (principles) of the prevailing paradigm to direct our efforts. We have a single logic (set of principles) to guide us.
    The analysis of Kuhn does not fit the hard sciences and physics least of all. You could say that modern physics since Galileo has had one paradigm and one paradigm only - that of seeing the world in mathematical terms. Or you could say that instead of being its paradigm this is its methodology to which paradigms play a much less functional second fiddle. I would not use the term "paradigms" at all because Kuhn's baggage really doesn't fit. Instead physics has visualizations - ways of visualizing and giving us an intuitive feel for what the mathematcs means.

    It is because it is the visualizations which the public can digest rather than the mathematics, and thus they easily fall for the false impression that the Kuhn's analysis is applicable.

    One of the reasons "paradigms" doesn't really fit the meaning of these visualizations is because sometimes we use contradicting visualizations simultaneously as in the example the wave and particle nature of the elementary particles like the photon. The mathematical description really encompasses both aspects of the particle and it is only when we try to visualize it we come up with these to pictures of these particles as wave or a as particle that seem contradictory.

    This also shows how something which is apparently multi-logical (visualization) is really mono-logical (mathematics) on some functional level. But this also reveals why the underlying mono-logical reality cannot always replace the multi-logical nature of our perceptions. The mathematics is precise and highly functional in its own way but its non-intuitive nature can blind us. The visualizations are not just kiddie versions for the ignorant public they are also neccessary for the scientists in the creative process of looking for new avenues of research.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
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  17. #16  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    I'd like to apologize for not reading your post before replying. I just read it and could help but feel slightly ashamed.

    "I think that specialization is perhaps a necessity but it is not necessary, nor is it health"

    What if someone specializes in health?

    I understand the ideals of learning a broad range of knowledge vs more specialized(narrow) range of knowledge

    For example a hunter knowing more than just were to buy the best hunting gear, the best place to put a stand, and the most active times of day/year. An "ideal" hunter knows how to track, move silently, use "scatter vision", lead a shot, how to skin, tan, process and smoke meat all in the field, and how to "read" weather, local ecology, and animal behavior, how to build a makeshift shelter, start a fire with sticks, build traps, cover herself in mud when she runs out of bug spray, conserve water, food and energy, forage for wild edibles, identify clean water, filter and purify water, make rope, practice first aid, relaxation techniques, remain focused, navigate by the stars... .etc etc

    But this is a form of specialization, no matter how broad you get.

    Your just specializing in a broader range of subjects. Specialization doesn't imply you now about less subjects, it just implies that you know more about the subject than others. It's up to you, not the system, to decide what you want to learn, and more importantly, what you will do with what you learn.

    Specialization forces cooperation. Non-cooperation breeds conflict. When two people who think they each have the broader sense of reality debate. vs Two people who only focus on their specialty field working together to form a broader sense of reality.

    There are interdisciplinary fields, and liberal study majors because some people don't want to specialize.


    Of course, in the name of efficiency, specialization will bring in the cheese, but this doesn't mean you are limited to what your college degree says about you.
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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