Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • BenWilson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Not for the first time, I have to say big props to Ben for that comment.

    Cheers, although I'd feel much more flattered if you could go through my thought experiment, and anyone else who has felt the same way as I did, even if not to the same extent. I find it extremely hard to believe that I'm unusual in this respect, and would much appreciate insights into how people handled being the outsiders in some debate in this forum. Also, if you've never been an outsider, would you say you always held the opinions you now do?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    In fact Fran Walsh has a BA in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, while Phillipa Boyens has a BA in English and History from Auckland.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1395 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I think the way in which you described re-evaluating your contributions showed a lot of generosity of spirit, Ben, and I'm frankly not sure I would be able to do it.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I confess that when Victoria offered the LOTR course I died a little inside. Especially after I read the syllabus. It looked like a very conservative course and not at all challenging; a little exploitative, too. But taken in isolation of course it's a straw man.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    I'll bet they just wanted to be accountants (not that there's anything wrong with that)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Just to be absolutely clear what (and whom) we're talking about here: Danyl is extrapolating from a single summer school paper taught by Otago to the 100% negative utility of the study of the humanities at large in Aotearoa?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1431 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Oh - Vic offers one too? It is the end of the world, humanities-wise.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1431 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to BenWilson,

    I've been pondering it, Ben, and I'm not sure I can answer it without substantially reframing your question.

    The last time I had an argument for fun was over here (Lynn Prentice, Dick Rule). In general I don't argue for kicks, and I vastly prefer non-combative discussion, where everyone is listening to everyone else and it's difficult to discern "sides". I'll only fight over things I care very deeply about.

    Then it's a question of whether I can be bothered expending my energy, and whether I think it'll do any good. So I have a "do not engage" list of people who, over time, I have seen exhibit tactics I can't be bothered with, like shifty shifty goalposts or simply not responding to anyone else's points. And how am I feeling, how much Argument Energy do I actually have to expend?

    The weight of opinion around me, how it's distributed, is one of those factors, because it's always harder to push the rock uphill. But it's just one of those factors.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4378 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Jolisa,

    It probably is. My friend, colleague and supervisor (all one person) and I wanted to teach a course on "The Philosophy of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Admittedly, we were going to do it for the adult education market and we were going to use Douglas Adam's flights of fancy to cover issues like the mutual intelligibility and translation of radically different languages, issues of personal identity, probability theory and the like, but after the funding cuts it become impossible to get past the relevant personnel.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    In fact Fran Walsh has a BA in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington, while Phillipa Boyens has a BA in English and History from Auckland.

    Well, Danyl's 33% correct, which must be some comfort.

    So, wait: 2 x BA (at 1980s prices) = 66% of the money made by the LOTR franchise? That's like, a Lotto jackpot ratio of profit awesomeness, relative to original investment. (Disclaimer: I am not an entertainment lawyer or accountant so my numbers may be wildly off).

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1431 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Jolisa,

    Oh - Vic offers one too? It is the end of the world, humanities-wise.

    It did some years ago, briefly. I wasn't impressed with the course as it was presented, which is not to say I don't think it might be worthwhile to study Tolkien per se. (ETA: in fact I covered a lot of so-called genre fiction in my doctorate, so it would be a little hypocritical of me to make that particular claim.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    I ... would much appreciate insights into how people handled being the outsiders in some debate in this forum.

    Much the same as you, without gaining any of the insights :) Unlike you, it meant I felt less engaged, and consequently became less engaged.

    Not for the first time, I have to say big props to Ben for that comment.

    Me too. Community vs debate is fascinating cos it hits at the heart of many things that make us human.
    Our species of primate evolved in tribes for - I dunno, a couple of million years at least? Tribes have great evolutionary advantages. They can do all sorts of things individuals can't.
    And they're the source of much in our nature that's good (selflessness, community, empathy) and much that's bad (us vs them, bigotry, obsession with status).
    Many forces in modern life obscure our tribal origins. But sometimes one can see these forces played out on the pages here with great clarity :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1599 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to HORansome,

    "The Philosophy of the Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

    Do it. Now. Online course would work too with iPhone App with the requisite 'Don't Panic' screen which changed to 'Panic' during exam times.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • st ephen, in reply to Jolisa,

    Just to be absolutely clear what (and whom) we’re talking about here: Danyl is extrapolating from a single summer school paper taught by Otago to the 100% negative utility of the study of the humanities at large in Aotearoa?

    No, the negative utility statement came first. The single summer school paper was brought up by someone on the other side of the argument, no doubt causing Danyl to push the ledger even further into the red.

    For the record, I did an applied science degree. Much of the material covered was essentially ephemeral, and not much use to me or the economy today. The way we covered it still provides direct benefits to me, the government and the private companies I work for. But if you accept the proposition put forward here previously that Non-exporters are freeloaders, then I suspect that Danyl can lump me in with the BA (Eng Lit) majors now...

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 207 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to Jolisa,

    Oh – Vic offers one too? It is the end of the world, humanities-wise.

    You mean Oh the humanities?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 281 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    HA-cha! Well played sir.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    (I still find most philosophers totally incomprehensible, in a way that most scientists aren’t, so I am not entirely sold on his point.)

    Just to go off on a slight tangent on this topic (being the proud owner of a BA in Philosophy): you know who calls out philosophers who write incomprehensible philosophy most often? Other philosophers. John Searle's takedown of postmodernism is passionate and clearly stated. Philosophy is an attempt to develop strategies to get people to agree with each other, which is where its central value lies. If a philosopher writes a book and noone agrees with him or her (especially if noone can figure out what they're trying to say) then chances are it's bad philosophy, and worthy of as much derision as bad science.

    I've used the skills I was taught in philosophy in my last couple of jobs to the benefit of the companies I've worked for: everything from being able to critically think about processes and policies and providing improvements, to knowing how conditional statements work so my Excel spreadsheets do the work of three people with the click of a button.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Question: how many of you here are Usenet veterans, and is that where you learned your culture of internet argument?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    Philosophy is an attempt to develop strategies to get people to agree with each other, which is where its central value lies

    I beg your pardon?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • JLM, in reply to BenWilson,

    I find it extremely hard to believe that I’m unusual in this respect, and would much appreciate insights into how people handled being the outsiders in some debate in this forum.

    I lurk, and make up speeches in my head which are models of persuasive argument which I never post because they're not really.

    Judy Martin's southern sl… • Since Apr 2007 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I beg your pardon?

    That is a plausible gloss on Philosophy; one of the members of my Department likes to give talks about how hard it is to pithily define what it is that philosophers do (it is, after all, a subject that ranges from debates about what Art is to the discussion of what constitutes identity across logically possible worlds) but central to the discipline is arguments which, hopefully, have plausible premises leading to interesting conclusions based upon sound reasoning which others can follow.

    Of course, other philosophers will disagree, usually with recourse to a good argument.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Question: how many of you here are Usenet veterans, and is that where you learned your culture of internet argument?

    I am one of those. That's where I learnt that if you suggest that Deckard might have been a replicant in Blade Runner, you die.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Greville Whittle, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Question: how many of you here are Usenet veterans, and is that where you learned your culture of internet argument?

    The newsgroups (rec.games.frp and some of it's descendants) I used to lurk in had a similar culture to here, but had a small group of regular posters.

    I bowled on over to the nz.general and nz.comp ones and soon left afterwards due to the way disagreements got pretty personal very quickly.

    Hamiltron • Since Oct 2008 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • HORansome, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I used to be fairly active on alt.games.ultima.dragons back in the day, which was a little like here; whilst the group was meant to be about the Ultima series of computer games most of the discussions where political or sociological in nature. I learnt a lot about engaging with people on Usenet and I still check in to the group (now on the rec. branch) to see who is still there.

    Tāmaki Makaurau • Since Sep 2008 • 424 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to HORansome,

    That is a plausible gloss on Philosophy

    Isn't it a little limiting? I'm pretty sure Nietzsche's aim wasn't to get people to agree with one another. I'm rather partial to one of the standard dictionary definitions. "Investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods."

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

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