20 12 2006

This is a post I’ve been thinking about making since, oh, sometime in October I think. It was ruminating a lot more profusely in my head back then, but hopefully I can muster up enough gusto to make this sensable.

Lately I’ve been struggling with the worth of academia – that is, scholarly knowledge. First, the basics: obviously in this day and age, education is very important if you want a good job and you want to raise a family, et cetera. Yet, there are definitely varying levels of dedication to one’s education. I think most people see education as a stepping stone, a necessary step to take on the road to that elussive “Success”. Success probably entails an exciting career obtained through that education, and the exciting plasma TV/car/house/private jet obtained through that rewarding career. Others see academia as a way of life. Life-long learning. Hmm. I’ve kind of lost track of what I’m trying to say here.

Let me say this: next semester I’m taking some courses that one might call a little “out there”. (Out where? Left field? I don’t know.) One of them is called Elementary Symbolic Logic. (I’ve posted about all of them on here before.) What on earth is the practical use of formal logic? The only thing I can think of is: Lawyer. Fair enough. That seems to be the extent of it though. What brought this idea to the front of my mind again was the discussion I was having below with Pete in the post just below this one about the movie Apocalypto. Pete and I have these discussions all the time because we both love arguing about that kind of stuff, even though it doesn’t really matter. One time when my parents were picking me up from my place in Guelph, I suppose I was unpleasant and they noticed. When asked what my problem was, I replied that I’d just been having an arguement with Peter on MSN. “What about?” The honest answer was, “we were arguing about the most acceptable method of arguement. What kinds of statements are acceptable, and so forth.” My parents laughed. Then my dad said something that really made me think. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of:
“Nobody in the real world cares how you argue. If you’re right, you’re right. I don’t know. Have a disagreement with some guy? Kick him in the balls. There, you win!”

I think this statement is a good summary of the way most people think. Nobody in the real world cares about the Official Laws of Logical Reasoning and Discussion. If you’re arguing with a representative from your insurance company, and he or she says, “we’re not going to cover you for this reason,” and you respond with, “Ah! But that’s a…logical fallacy!” (Don’t actually know any terms, haven’t taken the course yet.) If you respond like that, most likely the guy you’re arguing with is going to say, “I don’t care, that’s the way it is.”

I guess I’m trying to expand this idea to a lot of areas. I’ve studied a lot of Theatre this year, and I’ve written essays on how messages and themes existing in a script are reinforced and even parodied in clever set design. I’ve learned that it may not be the messages portrayed by media that are important, but rather the medium that is chosen to portray it. I’ve learned that children of a certain age, (I think it’s between 2 and 7 years old) cannot grasp the concept that a rolled up, small-looking ball of clay which is then flattened into a long, worm-like piece is the same quantity of clay. But does any of this really matter? Sure it’s interesting, but how will it serve me?

I think I’ve gotten way off track here, and this post must be a pain to read. I’m sorry. One thing I originally wanted to touch on, (hinted at in this post’s title) is the idea of scholarly knowledge, and a love of demonstrating that knowledge, turning into snobbishness. I guess the important thing is your attitude and how you choose to act with your knowledge.

Ok, I’m tired of this post now.




One response

20 12 2006

I can definitely understand what you mean. People try to sound all smart and such to say something simple – it’s somewhat annoying. In the real world efficiency and clarity is of prime importance. I was going to say if you become successful and such you would have a right to be a snob, but then no one would really like you at all. I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here…oh well

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