Intellectual Savages? Liberal Arts 101 and Argument Kip Wheeler April 29, 2008
Professor James Boren: “This term, you will be working with intellectual savages.” Sample Freshman-->
His point about freshmen? Not that freshmen were stupid. Not that they were malevolent. Not that they were unmotivated. Merely unfamiliar with etiquette Unaccustomed to scholarly expectations Unfamiliar with peer review Unaware how that changes from discipline to discipline. Noble Savage ? Benjamin West: The Death of Benjamin Wolfe.
What LA 101 should provide such savages…. Contrast models of education Provide sense of academic etiquette Offer practical intellectual tools for wide variety of disciplines (i.e., sense of argument and evidence)
Useful Experiment: Prompt #1: Why did you choose a Baptist college like Carson-Newman rather than a secular college? Prompt #2: Why did you choose a liberal arts college like Carson-Newman rather than a Bible college? Prompt #1 is easy for them. Prompt #2 is not
They will need a contrast: Vo-Tech –(“Your degree will give you skills for a high-paying job.”) Public Colleges and Universities –(“To produce thoughtful and prepared citizens capable of engaging in their civic duties in the state of Tennessee.”) Bible Colleges –(“To reinforce the students belief in God and help them better understand the tenets of Christian faith.”) Liberal Arts –(“To teach students general intellectual skills applicable in a wide number of fields, to support inquiry and critical analysis, and to encourage the life of the mind.”) i.e., argument!
Academic Etiquette of Argument Why footnotes? Why different styles of annotation? Why no name-calling or appeals to authority? Why are different types of evidence required in different fields? Why, if original thinking is good, do we research in the library what old dead professors said forty years ago?
College as a 2,600 Year Conversation: Kenneth Burke the Venerable Bede
Bede’s Allegory of the Sparrow To download a copy of the tale... then click on “Bede’s Parable of the Sparrow”
Kenneth Burke’s modernization: Intellectual life as a discourse “Life is a conversation that began before we were born. It will continue long after we are dead. We cannot ignore the previous discussion, or ignore how the discussion will need to develop after we are gone” (Burke 243).
Connotations of Argument? Anger, Fighting, Confrontation, Insults? Entertainment purposes? Opinionated bluster? Solipsism? Politicization? Loudest argument wins? Should we even avoid the term “argument”?
Intellectual Argument as.... Polite? Not about “winning”? (pace forensics!) Crash-testing ideas cooperatively? Rational thought as self-defense? Antidote to solipsism? FOR MORE INFO...
Practical Intellectual Tools.... Logic as a means to weigh evidence Logic as a means to crash-test ideas FOR MORE INFO...
Practical Intellectual Tools.... Logic as a means of self-defense against wishful thinking. (We think; therefore, we err.) Logic as a means to protect thinkers from downright deceit…. FOR MORE INFO...
Logical Fallacies: The Gentle Art of Intellectual Self-Defense
“Wax On, Wax Off, Daniel-san!” Handouts: Fallacies of Relevance Component Fallacies Fallacies of Ambiguity Fallacies of Omission Occam’s Razor
Works Cited: Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1945. Image Daily Services. “Crash Test Dummy.”. 5 May 2007. 29 April 2008. Keyword=“Crash Test Dummy.” NBC News release. “Pat Morita Dies at 73.” MSNBC. 25 Nov 2005.. West, Benjamin. The Death of General Wolfe. 1770. Oil on Canvas. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada.