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Posts Tagged ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”*…

 

 

school

One quibbles with Jacques Barzun, the author of this post’s title quote, at one’s peril.  Still, as Lapham’s Quarterly points out, disrespect, even disdain for formal education has a long history.  In this season of school’s end, LQ reaches back to the 17th Century for an example: an excerpt from Nicholas Breton’s The Court and Country, in which the then-popular author argues that on-the-job training, in the fields where husbands know their wives and farmers know their cattle, is all the learning anyone needs:

Now for learning, what your neede is thereof I know not, but with us, this is all we goe to schoole for: to read common Prayers at Church and set downe common prices at Markets; write a Letter and make a Bond; set downe the day of our Births, our Marriage Day, and make our Wills when we are sicke for the disposing of our goods when we are dead. These are the chiefe matters that wemeddle with, and we find enough to trouble our heads withal. For if the fathers knowe their owne children, wives their owne husbands from other men, maydens keep their by-your-leaves from subtle batchelors, Farmers know their cattle by the heads, and Sheepheards know their sheepe by the brand, what more learning have we need of but that experience will teach us without booke? We can learne to plough and harrow, sow and reape, plant and prune, thrash and fanne, winnow and grinde, brue and bake, and all without booke; and these are our chiefe businesses in the Country, except we be Jury men to hang a theefe, or speake truth in a man’s right, which conscience & experience will teach us with a little learning. Then what should we study for, except it were to talke with the man in the Moone about the course of the Starres?

* Jacques Barzun

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As we celebrate the onset of summer, we might send back-to-nature birthday greetings to Ralph Waldo Emerson; he was born on this date in 1803.  The essayist (“Nature,” “Self-Reliance,” et al.), lecturer, and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, he was one of the linchpins of the American romantic movement, and friend and mentor to Henry David Thoreau.

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Written by LW

May 25, 2016 at 1:01 am

Dude!…

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A request for submissions from the venerable academic publisher Blackwell:

Black Sabbath and Philosophy

Edited by William Irwin

The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series

Abstracts and subsequent essays should be philosophically substantial but accessible, written to engage the intelligent lay reader. Contributors of accepted essays will receive an honorarium.

Possible themes and topics might include, but are not limited to, the following: “Am I Going Insane?”: Madness in Sabbath and Foucault; Purging Fear and Pity with Sabbath and Aristotle; “War Pigs” and Pacifism; Gods who can Dance: Nietzsche, Sabbath, and Dionysus; Sabbath’s Sonic Meaning and the Devil’s Interval; “Fairies Wear Boots”: Drugs and Transcendence; “Push the Needle In”: The “Hand of Doom” and Addiction; “Solitude”: Existential Alienation and Despair; Working Class Heroes: Sabbath’s Politics; Spiral Architects and Rock Poets; “My name is Lucifer, please take my hand”: The Occult and the Virtues of Blasphemy; Sweet Leaf and Snow Blind: The Epistemology of Addiction; Is it still Sabbath without Ozzy?: The Metaphysics of Band Identity through Time; The Godfathers of Metal: Genre and Influence; Iron Man and The Wizard: Sabbath’s Mythology; “Tomorrow’s Dream”: Existential Freedom and Rebellion; Johnny Blade and Hypermasculinity; Why Scary Music Makes Us Feel Good: Sabbath and the Paradox of Horror; “Dirty Women”: Gender and Sexuality in Black Sabbath; The Fifth Member in “Creativity and Performance: Is Sabbath more than the Sum of its Parts?; “Lord of this World” and the Problem of Evil.

More (including, for interested readers, submission guidelines and a link to the series’ site) at Christopher Shea’s “The Philosophy of Heavy Metal.”

Ozzy Osbourne (in his pre-reality show days) and mates: Black Sabbath c.1970

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As we search tirelessly for meaning, we might send homey birthday wishes to the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott, teacher and transcendentalist philosopher, and Abigail May, social worker and reformer: Louisa May Alcott was born on this date in 1832.

While Louisa May was largely schooled by her father, she received instruction from Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Fuller– all family friends.  She worked as a seamstress. a governess, and a domestic, then as a Union nurse during the Civil War, before her writing was successful enough to support her.  A committed abolitionist and feminist, she was the first woman to register to vote in Concord, Massachusetts.

Success– and lasting fame– came to her with the publication of Little Women…. the heroine of which, Jo March, was, like her creator, born in the “difficult month” on November.

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I’ll take the low road…

source: Argonne National Laboratory

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg sketched ironic paeans to parsimony– cartoons depicting the simplest of things being done in the most elaborate and complicated of ways.  His whimsy inspired Purdue University to hold an annual Rube Goldberg Contest, in which teams of college students from around the country compete “to design a machine that uses the most complex process to complete a simple task – put a stamp on an envelope, screw in a light bulb, make a cup of coffee – in 20 or more steps.”

New Scientist reports on this year’s meet:

Who ever said a machine should be efficient? The device in this video was deliberately over-engineered to water a plant in 244 steps, while illustrating a brief history of life and the universe in the meantime. Created by students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, it sets a new world record for the most complex Rube Goldberg machine – a contraption designed to complete a simple task through a series of chain reactions.

The machine was unveiled in March at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Championships held at Purdue University. The competition, first held in 1949, challenges competitors to accomplish a simple task in under 2 minutes, using at least 20 steps.

Although this machine used the greatest number of steps, it encountered some problems during the contest so was disqualified. But the team tried it again afterwards and it worked – too late to compete in the championships but still valid as a world record entry. They should find out this week if Guinness World Records accepts their record-breaking feat.

For more Rube Goldberg machines, check out our previous coverage of the championships, watch this cool music video by OK Go or see how an elaborate Japanese device could fix you a noodle dinner.

As we savor the sheer silliness of it all, we might recall that The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was founded during the Revolutionary War, was chartered on this date in 1780.

Established by by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and its Constitution, the Academy’s purpose was (in the words of the Charter) “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Over the years, just about everyone a reader may have encountered in a U.S. History text has been a member: The original incorporators were later joined by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and others. During the 19th century, the elected membership included Daniel Webster, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John J. Audubon, Louis Agassiz, Asa Gray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Alexander Graham Bell.  In the early decades of the twentieth century, membership in the Academy continued to grow as other noted scholars, scientists, and statesmen were elected– including A. A. Michelson, Percival Lowell, Alexander Agassiz and, later, Charles Steinmetz, Charles Evans Hughes, Samuel Eliot Morison, Albert Einstein, Henry Lee Higginson, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  (Current members are listed here.)

Today the Academy is (in its self-explanation) “an international learned society with a dual function: to elect to membership men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, and to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.”

The Minerva Seal (source)

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