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>The notion of disruption is not inherently anti-intellectual. The notion that whatever society or structure under discussion has reached a local maximum, and must be torn down somewhat to be built back up is not to say that a society is worthless, or wrong at it's fundament, but rather that sometimes, change is not possible from within.

I'm not really sure what you mean here. Tearing down what--books? Schools of thought?




I could be wrong, and I certainly don't want to speak for anyone else really, but I think he's talking more in general principle. That you can't assume that more improvement isn't possible, that sometimes it takes a radical change of direction which can't be seen from a position of orthodoxy. I don't think he was suggesting the death of books or similar, more a reflex towards an open mind.

For what it's worth, the conflation of some extreme "post-modern" views such as "Experts do not deserve any special role in declaring what is known. Knowledge is now democratically determined, as it should be.", with some quite distinct and by no means dependent views questioning the value of forms of rote memorization was to me quite insulting. There is a world of possible nuances between views like these.

I am aware that the intention of that particular section was to (in my opinion clumsily) provoke. However to avoid engaging with the issues with intellectual honesty seems to me to be as anti-enlightenment as anything he ascribes to the anti-intellectual movement he apparently sees.


Sure, i mean all of these things are about the process which produces stuff. So i mean the institution of the book. For example, that the majority of academic publishing be measured in books (some fields definitely do this). Or that the "great" works of literature are inaccessible to the vast majority of the public and that there are more worthwhile things that could be done with one's time than reading "War and Peace".

That is not to say that reading "War and Peace" is wrong, or that it has no value, but that we should reassess whether reading "War and Peace" is somehow a metric of serious thought. This is the same sort of bullshit that people doing pop culture research have had to deal with for years. Whether it's research into comic art (and yes there are research libraries for cartoons – i spent 3 years working in one), contemporary art, or journalists using twitter, their existence is not (inherently) a zero-sum game with the old order. It is a threat to orthodoxy, but it is not a threat to academic inquiry or knowledge.

It'd be like claiming that Martin Luther was a great threat to religion and faith, because he sparked the reformation.


I don't think reading "War and Peace" is in itself a metric of serious thought so much as it is a test of literacy and of attention span.


Or sheer bloody mindedness. If you read "War and Peace" to improve your mind, more power to you. If you read it because you think it will make you better that someone else, you're just engaging in more social signaling.


I don't think people ever do that. Not with War and Peace, anyhows.




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