Naming according to their kinds…the telos of the disciplines

Thanks, Bethany, I will get the “homework” posted (over on Pages) for those of you who are doing the lit theory course with me, and also very soon, Session Two, on “The Classical Greek Thought-world,” which is all about “the elegant formalities of things,” something that the Danish-bred mare “Matine” understands so well in the video I presented in my last post (below). I’m glad so many of you viewed it.  What a high!

The animal trainer and philosopher I mentioned is Vickie Hearne, and I was sad to learn she is now deceased. Her book is Adam’s Task: Calling the Animals by Name — “calling the animals by name” being something I talk about in Session One, part 4, in terms of Hebraic scriptures and Plato and Aristotle reflecting to us the same deep insights into what we are as human beings. 

We are those who name the kinds, and both naming and kind-ness, as those Athenian philosophical founders of the arts and sciences understood them, offer us much wider and more inclusive ways of understanding and affirming what it means for human beings to engage in disciplinary knowing, which we are doing every day of our lives. (It is not just for professionals in narrow fields.)

“Matine” has come to know so much about the human joy and love of formal elegance that her “trainer” is now entirely dependent upon her to fulfil the possibilities of the dance they are doing together. Hearne believed in the joy of the most intense disciplinary work both for human beings and for the animals who come into closest contact with them.  She showed how search dogs and other highly trained animals enter into human language and the human world, gladly joining (with the most profound comraderie) in coming to know the possibilities of kindness, or as Bethany reminds me, “the thinginess of things,” as humans quest to know them

How tragic that our elitist and scientistic late-modern theory of “fields of knowledge,” impersonal and empirically based, and full of Cartesian mind-body dualisms, lack the dynamism and depth of  the earlier Greco-European theory of knowing, which was robustly pluralistic and questioning and open-ended, as opposed to our own stultifyingly repressive constructions of knowing that cause our students to find advanced study or personal thought uninteresting….

If only our grade-schoolers could be welcomed into the protean human quest as respectfully and joyously as Matine has been…. (See my sessions for these opposing theories of education.)

Now on another level of the naming of things, here’s an excellent post from a freelance journalist with a good weblog pondering the implications of the term “moderate Muslim” and exploring how the same insights being offered about this term might also apply to various groups of Christians and how they name themselves. Go to blog below and read “Sunday Sermonette.”

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