[Humanist] 25.23 in denial

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue May 17 07:18:59 CEST 2011

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 23.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 16 May 2011 10:54:47 -0700
        From: Jascha Kessler <urim1 at verizon.net>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.22 in denial
        In-Reply-To: <20110516052446.E46E4144D46 at woodward.joyent.us>

While I am happy to agree with Prof. Rocchi — in the abstract, of course —
the understanding of even the most primitive of tools, say the principles of
finding the right flint, slate, obsidian, the chipping and making of a
spearpoint, a knife for dissection of the mammoth, another flint for a spark
for a cooking fire...all those aspects of feeding, the culturing of my
tribe, and children, whether I am woman or man, is already divided into the
tool-makers, and users, who need not know how to chip, or even hunt, if the
hunters go out.

On the other hand, Rocchi's concern re those who might want to know how to
make gasoline, after refining crude oil, after drilling for it, after
hunting for it, after studying geology at university, and so on back, might
be useless tomorrow.  I recommend Lem's haunting novel, FIASCO.  S. Lem was
both an engineer and highly-cultivated European style Humanist.  I wont go
further with that novel here, because it has to be read, to be felt, felt to
be contemplated, contemplated to be understood, and understood to make my
argument about denial/acceptance; ignorance/knowledge, etc.  All the
understanding of anything whatever is as nothing to the newborn child, who
will, one way or another grow up the same primitive being whose bones may or
may lie in the vicinity of the earliest cave-dwelling painters of hunting
magic, if that is what those image are.

Jascha Kessler

On Sun, May 15, 2011 at 10:24 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 22.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>        Date: Sun, 15 May 2011 12:52:24 +0200
>        From: procchi at luiss.it
>        Subject: on tool
> Recently I read:
> The car is a tool,
> The motorcycle is a tool,
> Radio is a tool
> TV is a tool
> ….
> The computer is a tool
> Everything you want to use as a tool is a tool.
> Obviously one learns how to use the object that he/she will adopt, and
> attends a course. Concepts are unnecessary to such a course which delivers
> operational contents. However if you change your mind and mean to discover
> the how and the why of your tool, if you like to examine the root-causes of
> this instrument, the principles that embody this implement, you attend
> university lessons that will improve your knowledge and will make you better
> conscious of your professional actions. As an example the driving school
> teaches the layman to drive a car, if he likes to be aware of the combustion
> engine the layman attends lessons on thermodynamics and rises the level of
> knowledge in motoring.
> This is not the case of computers.
> Thousands of operators deliver courses that are operational however if you
> like to go deep into computing, universities do not offer satisfactory
> lessons, they are unable to enhance your culture in the field, they do not
> broaden your view over technology.
> The reason is easy: theoretical researches on the principles of computing
> are stuck to the pole since decades. Despite great emphasis and
> presupposition experts refer to theoretical models alien to a number of
> modern digital solutions, they cite authors who lived more than fifty years
> ago, they assume as exhaustive theories that cover narrow areas. Humanists
> are sensitive to cultural values and should not ignore the current state of
> the art. I quote the recent debate “What is computing? What is information?”
> hosted by the ACM Ubiquity (http://ubiquity.acm.org/symposia.cfm)
> Best
> Paolo Rocchi
> Docent Emeritus
> via Shangai 53, 00144 Roma
> Professor
> LUISS University
> via Alberoni 7, 00198 Roma

Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature, UCLA
Telephone/Facsimile: 310.393.4648

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