ISSEI #3

Yesterday I chose to join the workshop entitled Man and Machine: The relationship between Humans and Technology in Philosophy and the Arts. Speakers discussed the notion of non-work and the nostalgia for the factory. I took from this that our current neo-liberal obsession with producing economically viable units of production to serve the dominant discourse of employabilty and skills fails to take account of the nature and daily grind of work. This is illustrated by the reminiscences from GDR workers of the period before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite the worklessness of today’s citizens labour conditions that would appear to many to be akin to slavery are viewed with rose coloured glasses. I cannot offer a discussion arising from this paper, but it has disrupted my common-sense view of the search for work of any kind, simply to be in employment. Maybe the phenomenon of the intern, or the volunteer teacher could provide a fruitful way forward.

The next two papers, Technology and the Body, and Marinetti, Superman and Machine can be taken together as they both pointed to the human as cyborg, rather than the machine and the human being subject and object. I reflected on the observation that rather than the Internet resembling the neural connections in the brain (see Chaos theory, fractals and the mandelbrot model), it has been produced that way entirely because it has been designed by humans. We both own and become the machine. We are not in its grip as some would caution.

Today we learned about research into teaching and teacher education at the University of Cyprus. PCK surfaced again, and in a simplistic, positivist way once more, but this was countered by a deeply nuanced paper about applying contemporary psychological theories in teacher education. Curriculum evaluation was also well considered by young researchers in the department of education (see Eisner 1985).

As I write this I am way out of my depth listening (well not really as am writing this blog) to a philosophical discussion about the nature and narrative of history. I am grateful to have the words wash over me however. It reminded me of the famous quotation from The History Boys – ‘History is just one f***ing thing after another’. I want to offer this as a foil to Husserl, Kirkegaard, Hegel, Kant and the like. Stop my hand going up please. The questions after the paper helped to demonstrate that philosophers can fight with the best of us, no blood was spilt, but plenty of mano-a-mano. I was pleased that was able to connect with a discussion about narrative history, teaching, testimony and subjectivity, following Ricoeur into Bernstein and Fricker’s notion of epistemic injustice. well done me.

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