17.798 Aristotle on disciplinarity

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 16:55:12 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 798.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

             Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 06:51:32 +0100
             From: Hartmut Krech <kr538@uni-bremen.de>
             Subject: Re: 17.796 Frye on disciplinarity


    the Frye statement you are quoting may be contrasted with Aristotle's
    famous beginning words from his "On the Parts of Animals":

    "Every systematic science [theoría kaì méthodos], the humblest and the
    noblest alike, seems to admit of two distinct kinds of proficiency; one of
    which may be properly called scientific knowledge of the subject [èpistéme
    toû prágmatos kalôs], while the other is a kind of educational acquaintance
    [paideía] with it. For an educated man [pepaideuménos] should be able to
    form a fair off-hand judgement as to the goodness or badness of the method
    used by a professor in his exposition. To be educated is in fact to be able
    to do this; and even the man of universal education we deem to be such in
    virtue of his having this ability. It will, however, of course, be
    understood that we only ascribe universal education to one who in his own
    individual person is thus critical in all or nearly all branches of
    knowledge, and not to one who has a like ability merely in some special
    subject. For it is possible for a man to have this competence in some one
    branch of knowledge without having it in all." (Bekk. 639 a; tr. William
    Ogle; original Greek wording added by myself; Internet Classics Archive;

    This view is supported by two other statements from Aristotle's "On the
    Generation of Animals" where he says that any "logical proof" is "empty" as
    long as it is not grounded in a factual knowledge of the subject at hand
    (Bekk. 747 b and 748 a). It must be noted that these words derive from the
    inventor of scientific logics.

    It seems to be a very productive confrontation between specific
    disciplinary knowledge and universal education that you make. Thank you for
    the reference.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Hartmut Krech
    Bremen, Germany
    The Culture and History of Science and the Humanities

    Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty ) wrote:

    > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 796.
    > Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
    > www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
    > www.princeton.edu/humanist/
    > Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu
    > Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 07:31:25 +0100
    > From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
    > >
    >At one time or another I have quoted Northrop Frye from memory to the
    >effect that each discipline is the centre of all knowledge -- the most
    >generous view I know on what disciplines can be. This is, I think,
    >important enough a reference to get both right and complete. It is as
    >"It takes a good deal of maturity to see that every field of knowledge is
    >the centre of all knowledge, and that it doesn't matter so much what you
    >learn when you learn it in a structure that can expand into other
    >Northrop Frye, "The Beginning of the Word". Ontario Council of Teachers
    >Keynote Address, 30 October 1980. Indirections 6 (Winter 1981). Reprinted
    >in Northrop Frye, On Education. Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry & Whiteside,
    >1988, pp. 9-21. The quotation occurs on p. 10.
    >Among the many other utterances to which this could be connected is the old
    >definition of God, "centre everywhere, circumference nowhere", which (along
    >with the rest of literature in many languages) Frye would have had in mind.
    >In any case it is very close to a divine view of what education is all about.
    >[NB: If you do not receive a reply within 24 hours please resend]
    >Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
    >Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
    >7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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