Saturday, May 24, 2008

"The 'Trials' of Theoretical Curiosity"

(Image from Yonsei University)

For those of you interested in such things, I should mention that I'll be offering a course on "curiosity" at Yonsei's Underwood International College next fall. Here's the official description of the course, which I think can be accurately categorized as "intellectual history":
The 'Trials' of Theoretical Curiosity: Free Inquiry and its Potential Limits

The course will deal with Part 3 of Hans Blumenberg's tome in intellectual history, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age. Originally in German but translated by Robert M. Wallace into English, Part 3 is titled "The 'Trial' of Theoretical Curiosity." Blumenberg's historical analysis traces the vicissitudes undergone by "curiosity" from Socrates to Feuerbach. The course will be intellectual history but with larger implications for views on the origin and character of Modernity and its emergence from the Medieval worldview. The fundamental lesson would concern the difficulty encountered by curiosity as a legitimate intellectual pursuit. Students would likely draw their own inferences as to current threats -- or even understandable limits -- to curiosity in our postmodern times, whether from the political correctness advocated by radical multiculturalism or from the fundamentalist resurgence predicated upon the revenge of God. Readings will include selections from Blumenberg as well as articles to be supplied at the beginning of the semester. An essay with thesis statement, citations, and bibliography, initially as a first full draft and then as a final draft, will be required.
As I explained to John Frankl, the UIC's Assistant Dean (or perhaps: Common Curriculum Program Chair):
Blumenberg's argument on the trial of theoretical curiosity would likely be of intrinsic interest for students. Moreover, I've been familiar with Blumenberg's works since 1984, and I've been doing a research project with Professor Warren T. Reich, editor of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics, who is working on a history of care and wants to include the etymologically related term "curiositas" in his work, so I've become something of an expert on this topic and will be working on it even more over the next few months.
Frankl asked only that I shorten the title, which I have: "The 'Trials' of Theoretical Curiosity."

Now, we just have to see if students are interested.

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At 5:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"so I've become something of an expert..."

Just wondering. Only because I've uttered somthing of the same sort in a slightly different context.

Was he impressed?

(By the way, should your reply contain the rhetorical-not overly so.)


At 5:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Impressed? I don't know because that was what I wrote in an email. Otherwise, I wouldn't even recall the exact words.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it you're awaiting a reply?


At 5:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

From the students, you mean? The course itself has been approved. Now, we just have to see if students are interested.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the students. That it has been approved suggests that the horn tooting was sufficient.

My own occasion when I uttered much the same started out rather poorly and my employer began to doubt my "expertness", in the end however (once I was empowered to terminate specific employees) the project did end quite expertly.


At 2:23 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well . . . that's why I was careful to say 'something of' an expert. As a partitive expression, I could mean (theoretically speaking) that I'm merely a fraction of an expert.

And that would be partly correct.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having had a night to sleep on it I think I may've hit on why I bothered to comment on it in the first place.

JK has a tendency during job interviews and the like, to be somewhat less than shy about whipping out the resume' and shouting, "See I am an expert!"

However (in JK's experience) Professor Jeffery seems to be content in letting that sleeping dog snooze.

JK notices anomalies and in so noticing, falls back to his "expert analysis" mode and makes major what is actually trivial.


At 4:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Now that I've considered my words about expertise, I'd probably not use them again, for I can't truly claim expertise . . . yet.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, no, you employed a "qualifier." I most (heck always omit one).

Well. I'm off to somewhere that I might more appropriately view Indy. With a short detour to ensure that my own "vehicle" shall be sufficiently lubricated in order that my eyes see everything in proper context.


At 6:24 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Enjoy those 'lubrications' . . . if they're the sort of things that one should enjoy.

Jeffery Hodges

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