Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Noddings 5-7

Chapter 5

Formal Logic is important for developing the skills needed in upper levels of education. When facing the daily problems of life it is also useful; however, in this case I see it more as an additional "tool" in one's "toolbox" for solving life problems. The other "tools" are more abstract; such as intuition, empathy, etc.

Formal logic will always be bound to a context. In order to select the "True" or "False" in a statement, you need to know the context to judge it. And even when you know the context, bias may emerge.

Taking a very simple example, the expression "If I eat hamburgers, then I will get fat". You have to know who is the "I", what type of hamburgers are we talking about, the physical exercise and condition of the person, what it means to be "fat", etc. When you have defined the context, then you can make a decision of the outcome of the expression.

The perspective of Jane Roland Martin, as discussed by Noddings between pages 101-103, was interesting for me: the idea that critical thinking is meant also to connect with others in order to transform the world in a positive way. In addition, I found interesting the discussion of the problems arising when critical theory is applied to critical literacy. When the newly literate starts to read and think critically, they may see his or her true condition and might work to change his or her condition. The discussion ends informing that, as Freire and other philosophers have found, the former oppressed turns to be the actual oppressor.


Chapter 6
Of this chapter, it drew me more the discussion of "what is the truth" and "constructivism". I agreed with the statement of K. Popper that, as quoted by Noddings, truth is a ""regulative ideal" -- something unattainable toward which we nevertheless strive". Meaning that the quest to find the absolute certainty is unreachable; however, you can use probability theory to obtain the degree of certainty. It is like if we were measuring the degree of the truth of something. I did also find interesting Dewey's forward-looking-epistemology, because the weight he places in the consequences of one's beliefs against the justifications made through past conditions.

Constructivism is the philosophy that states that "all knowledge is constructed; knowledge is not the result of passive reception" (Noddings, p.126-127). What I do not agree here is with the view that the construction of knowledge is through a generic cognitive machine, identical in all individuals. My view is that every individual constructs the knowledge based on his or her idiosyncratic way.

About Piaget's work, I did agree with those who point out that, instead of emphasizing in the manipulation of objects, the focus must be the interaction with people. This reminds me of the preference that many people have to ask questions directly to another person; even thou they can search for the answer on the Internet. Web sites such as Yahoo Answers try to address that necessity of direct contact with a person, although the quality of answers rarely is the ideal one. :-p

Chapter 7
Of this chapter I will comment about the discussion of Noddings: the metascience domain and the questions that Kuhn addresses. Some of these are:
1) Which problem do scientist need to resolve with more urgency?
2) Should they need to consider the effects of their research on individuals, communities, and the world?

Noddings (p.138) discusses: "Some scientists argue that they are not responsible for the uses to which their science is put. Science is employed to advance knowledge. Discussions of how its products are used belongs to the domain of politics or moral theory. Can this sharp separation be supported, or can we find difficulties in it?"

I have to admit that when I started the Master's degree and began to be more familiarized with the research labs, research topics nowadays, etc... I told to myself: "this is pointless... for what these [x] researches will serve to alleviate the most important social problems nowadays? Why they are not focusing their energies in solving xyz social problems instead?" That reality made me almost quit Computer Engineering 2 years ago.