Intellectual standards and competence26 May 2022 23:04
Attention conservation notice: Essentially unchanged in text since the first round of these notebooks, which I somewhat arbitrarily date to 3 October 1994, when I was 20. I'm still interested in the questions, and have added references and linkage, but would at the least write very differently today. (For one thing, I have much lower expectations of undergraduates.)How well have people thought in different places and times? What are the standards by which thought has been judged?
For instance: Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man is obviously the product of a very bright and well-read man; but if I got it from one of my students, I'd say he had the critical sense of a magpie, and an appalling habit of twisting other people's words to fit his outlandish notions. (I was rather like that myself as a freshman, being under the influence of Joseph Campbell.) Yet this work was extremely well-received at the time, and seems --- based on my admittedly limited exposure to Renaissance humanism --- at least par for the course. Did nobody notice? Did nobody care? Is there something I'm missing?
- Richard Hamilton, The Social Misconstruction of Reality: Validation and Verification in the Scholarly Community
- Joseph Heath, Enlightenment 2.0: Restoring Sanity to Our Politics, Our Economy, and Our Lives
- Larry Laudan, Science and Values [i.e., cognitive values; exhibits Laudan's concern with how people reflect on, and modify, their own standards about what counts as a good argument]
- Karl Popper, "Toward a Rational Theory of Tradition," in his Conjectures and Refutations
- Stephen Toulmin, The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts
- Modesty forbids me to recommend:
- CRS, "The Domestication of the Savage Mind" [Nominally, a review of James Flynn's What Is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect, but very much concerned with this point]
- To read:
- Daniel Calhoun, The Intelligence of a People
- Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Arguments about Arguments: Systematic, Critical, and Historical Essays in Logical Theory