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HPSCHD-L  November 2004

HPSCHD-L November 2004

Subject:

Re: More reflections on Europe trip

From:

Julian Holman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sun, 28 Nov 2004 01:43:59 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (86 lines)

>
>
> The Enlightenment was one turning point in the development of Western
> thought and philosophy, but not the first and not even, perhaps, the
> most important.
>
> First came Humanism, the philosophical lever that broke our
> civilization away from Medieval thought patterns, one of which was
> the belief that (I paraphrase) God's will is immutable, we cannot
> direct our own lives, all inspiration comes directly from God, and it
> would be sacreligious to take personal credit for our artistic
> endeavors.  (This is the fatalistic philosophy of "insh'Allah" that
> still permeates the Medieval branch of Islam.)  Developing realism,
> including vanishing point perspective, was part of Humanism's legacy,
> as was the exercise of our God-given minds, brains, and curiosity
> that led to scientific advancement and increased exploration during
> the Renaissance.  Humanistic academies in the 15th century provided
> some of the best education available, but not, of course, to girls or
> the poor or non-Christians.
>
> The Enlightenment was possible BECAUSE of Humanism, and was really
> the practical application of many of the same principles, leading
> (eventually) to the concepts of universal education, and then to
> publicly-supported education, and then to the inclusion of music in
> school curricula, and eventually to the Carnegie Foundation Report in
> the late '60s which said that schools should concentrate on the
> basics, "and the Arts are basic."
>
> >Is the
> >level of interest and education in Europe that John describes also an
> >Enlightenment phenomenon?  If so, does the connection between science and
> >the arts figure into the discussion?  I think that is at the root of my
> >question.
>
> You have to differentiate between universal education, which we take
> for granted thanks to the principles of the Enlightenment, and the
> education of the upper, ruling classes, most often through the
> church, which goes back much, much farther.  I think it's been said
> that the Renaissance was the last period during which an "educated
> man" could claim to know everything that was knowable, and that's
> certainly pre-Enlightenment (although not pre-Humanism).  And that
> "everything" most certainly included science and the arts, as they
> were known at the time.  (I might mention in passing that this
> particular "everything" would not have included the practical matters
> protected and taught within the crafts guilds, including harpsichord
> making!)
>
> So yes, I'd say that there's a very long history of this view of
> education in Europe.  European settlers in the New World, on the
> other hand, tended by and large NOT to be the best educated unless
> they were younger sons of the educated, ruling class who tended to
> stay on the East Coast in the seaports that were in regular contact
> with Europe.  Those who went in and opened up the North American
> heartland were not the best educated, and they had plenty to do just
> to survive, so the upper class ideals of education never made it to
> most of North America until much, much later.
>
> >And what if anything does this have to do with so-called "post
> >modernism?"  We saw some stuff in Vienna that reminded me of "Da Da,"
> >insofar as I understand what that was.
>
> I'm fortunate enough not to understand what "post modernism" is
> supposed to be, so I couldn't care less!!

so called Post modernism (it could  be called contemporary scepticism) comes
from finding potted histories, such as the one above, ideological myths, which
collapse if you prod them critically - ie if you interrogate Any of their
central terms ('medieval' for instance), asking where they come from / in what
context  they were initially deployed. I'd say, roughly, that the story above
is more or less a version of the ideological justifications of the transfer of
political power from landed interests to commmercial ones ('medieval' is an
18th c. term); and that your Humanism is just the echo in historical texts of
the dissolution of traditional social relations, based on blood or creed and
their associated hierarchies, and their replacement with relations derived from
developing markets for goods and labour , which are fundamental to modern
states (education being all about the creation of a standard disciplined unit
of industrial labour power in the 19th c., though in Descartes and Hobbes' day
it was about disarming the elite, turning them from a military into an
intellectual(&managerial) elite). For a 'post-modern' study of the concrete
processes of Enlightenment, Foucault's 'Discipline and Punish' (Surveiller et
Punir) is highly recommended.  Oh, I forgot, you "couldn't care less!!"

Why a double exclamation mark?

Objectively,  John, you are participating in a 'post-modern' revaluation, in
celebrating pre-classical music, dont-you-know!

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