4.0230 Meditations on Knowledge (2/44)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 27 Jun 90 17:17:42 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0230. Wednesday, 27 Jun 1990.

(1) Date: Wed, 27 Jun 90 09:35:32 BST (11 lines)
From: Donald Spaeth <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 4.0215 Meditations

(2) Date: Tue, 26 Jun 90 18:00 PDT (33 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0226 Knowledge: Permanent and Transient

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 90 09:35:32 BST
From: Donald Spaeth 041 339-8855 x6336 <GKHA13@CMS.GLASGOW.AC.UK>
Subject: 4.0215 Meditations

Has the study of Classical Hebrew really not changed? The Hebrew
itself may not have, but I'm sure interpretations have. My own
field (early modern English history) has changed significantly
over the past 45 years--several times--although I grant not
as much as computing.

Don Spaeth
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------156---
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 90 18:00 PDT
Subject: Re: 4.0226 Knowledge: Permanent and Transient

I rather think Corre was expressing something else: the economics of it
all. The fact is, one invests in learning something, like his
Classical Humanist subjects over years, and also years in learning
computer procedures, which fade faster than a Pasadena rose. He mourns
the "waste" of time. Thoreau has many lessons to teach on this head,
in WALDEN. The first chapter, on ECONOMY. What Corre was also getting
at is something only age teaches one: that the very same things, the
very same proverbs, apothegms, saws, tropes, choruses, prayers, songs,
become ever deeper in meaning and significance, while the procedures of
input were never more than 1 micron thick in signficance. Furthermore,
computers are but the latest example of something more profound, since
science itself functions by disproving and forgetting what it once
labored to learn. Not maths, I guess, but the understanding gained by
more primitive instruments: the procedures of Leeuwenhoek are not useful
to the electron microscopist. Life itself is expensive too, in terms
of time. Most of what we have learned is quite forgettable, though it
too often comes up out of the lower depths in hours of fever or delirium,
as we all know. So, the analogy of the urn is of course false; only
our littel children wonder if our heads are stuffed up, with useless
knowledge; but then as we get older we say, If only we knew it was to
become obsolete. But then the joy of learning to use the instrument is
part of the long road. Pity that learning so manmy things is wasteful
of our strength and time, but some things are expensive. A poet often
finds, as I have, that lots of reading of all sorts sometimes comes out
as a phrase that condenses it all, and the rest of the work goes for
naught; but without all effort, that phrase so full of pith would never
have come into existence. We are indeed very strange creatures, and not
like my 20 meg diskdrive at school that is full of mere programs and so
very slow to execute anything as a consequence. Kessler at UCLA