Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Coming Return To The Issue Of Synthetic Experience And Historical Pedagogy

I've hit a point in AZI that has brought me full circle to the issues I have been pondering for a little while now. The issues are history as a form of education. The power of the imagination to replicate the effects of experience. The difference between the historical imagination and other types of imagination. The importance of the historical imagination.

The imagination as the ability to use consciousness to creatively recombine traces of experience to form new things. How else do new thoughts and new imaginings happen? Only by using traces of previous experience and recombining them to make new things.

I, for example, have fallen five feet before. So I know what it feels like to fall. I've also felt physical heat from fire, have been burnt, have felt pain from falling and from being burnt. I have all kinds of traces of experience about those things that help me imagine falling, being burnt, being hurt. But am I capable of imagining falling 100 feet from a burning building onto a street below?

I read a historical account of someone falling from a burning building. And I asked myself if I could imagine that experience in any way that is serious and meaningful. Is the historical imagination powerful enough to replicate the effects of experience?

In short, the issue is that of synthetic experience and the way that history and the rest of the humanities can provide it.

Synthetic experience. I hope the phrase doesn't sound too opaque or cold. I think it serious business. How else do we learn from other people's experience, or from the humanities, if it isn't through something that can reasonably be called synthetic experience?

I intend to finish AZI. After that I hope to turn my reading more explicitly to history, the issue of historical pedagogy, the issue of synthetic experience. I also intend to look more seriously into graduate school programs. Perhaps I will apply at the end of 2011, after all.

Over and out.

Time to drink some Supergoose with some friends. Thanks, SB.

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