15.265 computation & imagination

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Sat Sep 29 2001 - 05:54:27 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 265.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2001 10:39:26 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Computation-enriched Imagination


    In reply to your call for writings about fostering the play of
    imagination, I was initially drawn to point towards the work of Israel
    Scheffler, the philosopher of education, whose essay "In Praise of the
    Cognitive Emotions" was reprinted by Routledge in 1991 in a volume of that
    name. I hestitated. I did not have the volume at hand and I wished not
    only to mention its title as a reference. I wanted to quote from it.

    On surprise:

    Critical inquiry in pursuit of explanation is a constructive outcome of
    surprise, transforming initial disorientation into motivated search

    Before this summative statement, Scheffler writes:

    Surprise may be dissipated and may evaporate into lethargy. It may
    culminate in confusion or panic. It may be swiftly overcome by a redoubled
    dogmatism. Or it may be transformed into wonder or curiosity and so become
    an educative occasion. Curiostiy replaces the impact of surprise with the
    demand for explanation*; it turns confusion into question.

    *Scheffler here refers readers to his _Anatomy of Inquiry_ explaining that
    he uses the term "explanation" in a very broad sense.

    There is the marvelous passage in an essay about the education of
    policy-makers which reminds me of the threads spun out this past summer on
    Humanist regarding the role of the ideal administrator in supporting a
    humanities computing enterprise or programs.

    the improvement of policy through learning from experience [...] requires
    both a continuing audit of past experience and a continuous commitment to
    act upon the future

    Of course, Scheffler has written about computers in schools. Perhaps some
    other subscriber-contributors to Humanist would care to comment upon his
    three rival metaphors to the problem-solving model which he set against
    the computer-metaphor based on information is associated. For Scheffler
    writing in 1986, "The computer has been associated with the recent swing
    to hard education, with the notion of raising standards, of higher
    acheivement in academic subjects, of increased efficiency in the teaching
    of fact, of enhanced problem-solving capacity." Since November is
    approaching and during that month is scheduled a conference on pedagogical
    matters in the domain of humanities computing, I ask --- What is the place
    of the computer as an esthetic instrument in the curricula of humanities
    computing programs? Just how much was the infrastructure spending of the
    1990s a continuation of the the funding regimes that implemented the cuts
    of the 1980s? How does this past affect visions of the future?

    ....imaginging the computation of the economic imagination of humanities
    computing pedagogy...

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large
    per Interactivity ad Virtuality via Textuality

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