Monday, December 7, 2009

doubts everywhere

It is often noted that the last few centuries have undone some of the formerly stable truths.  Galileo and other scientists are said to have changed the picture of heavenly powers controlling everything that goes on.  Both the telescope and the microscope showed new worlds not previously suspected.  I read that the Pope gets scientific advice and updates all the time, which is a big change from the persecution the church gave Galileo.  Something like 400 years after forcing him to recant his findings and placing him under house arrest, the church forgave him and admitted its error.

Darwin further undermined certainty and the place of humans in nature with the realization of the evolution of organisms.  Modern genetic science is hard at work further understanding life and its methods and possible modification for particular human purposes. 

Freud and others showed that our baby natures still influence us when we are old and today we are well aware of the importance of the upbringing a child gets both from parents and from age peers.

Odd things from the study and theory of art and interpretation emerged during the middle of the 1900's and climaxed in scholarly areas about 1980 in "postmodernism" and related ideas.  Whenever I try to tell about this wave of thought and doubt, I look for short and clear statements as to what it was (is) about.  I say that it started in France and was part of a smooth, natural development of thinking about how to interpret writings and other art.  When you look up postmodernism, you often find odd mixtures of references to art, philosophy and political thinking.  I was in school before the climax of the movement and during doctoral studies in both psychology and philosophy, I never heard the word mentioned.  I was too early in my development.  But when Lynn got her doctorate, she ran smack dab into it. 

You might think in a field such as instructional technology and computing, there wouldn't be much call for theories that emerged from literary criticism and scholarship, but on many modern campuses, the search for hidden motivations and cultural influences is part of most research and formal conversation about everything.

So, this is another side of human thinking that has come to doubts and a grasp of how much is relative, temporary and mere convention.  It is not just cosmology and biology but all human thinking and history that is the subject of doubt and debate.

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