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RhetCanada
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RhetCanada, a.k.a. The Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric, is a society of scholars dedicated to the study of rhetoric.
RhetCanada, a.k.a. The Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric, is a society of scholars dedicated to the study of rhetoric.

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Can we use Adorno to think about today's promises and perils of technology? With Adorno's life in classical music and philosophy, it is no surprise that he defended high culture and was suspicious of the rest. Here is an essay by University of York's Owen Hulatt, author of Adorno’s Theory of Aesthetic and Philosophical Truth (Columbia UP, 2016).

Hulatt writes, "Adorno insisted on high standards–culture was not merely a matter of technical progress (in composing more beautiful, more complicated music, for example) but also (if indirectly) a matter of morality."

Considering Adorno's historical times, his distrust of technology makes sense, especially with the political applications of technology in the 1930s and 1940s. Hulatt notes of Adorno: "He claimed that capitalist popular culture...manipulates us into living lives empty of true freedom, and serves only to distort our desires. Popular culture is not the spontaneous expression of the people, but a profit-driven industry–it robs us of our freedom and bends us to conform to its needs for profit."

Thinking about Adorno today could seem appealing, considering our current technology, in they way it socially surrounds us and frames virtually all of our interactions. If Adorno, as Hulatt states, "indirectly" supported high cultural standards as a "matter of morality," how does this apply (can it?) to our experiences with technology today?

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What is reality?

From the New York Review of Books, a conversation on consciousness between Riccardo Manzotti and Tim Parks.

Tim Parks states, "With the advent of the stream of consciousness in twentieth-century literature, it has come to seem that the self is very much a thing made of words, a verbal construction forever narrating itself [ . . . ] [where] it is assumed that this all takes place in the brain . . .".

In light of Parks' opening, he asks Riccardo Manzotti, "[Y]ou have been presenting quite a different theory of consciousness, which suggests that there is nothing 'stored' in the brain. No images, no sounds, and, I assume, no words."

In short, this conversation asks where our cognitive systems fit in the role of knowledge and expression, and how language and perception factor into these processes.

(Manzotti has been an MIT Fulbright Visiting Scholar and currently is Professor in Theoretical Philosophy at Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione IULM. Parks is an author, translator, and essayist of many works, such as 2015's Where I'm Reading From: The Changing World of Books and, notably, 1997's Europa, which was shortlisted for the Booker prize.)

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RHETORIC academic job postings! Deadline coming up soon. Assistant Professor in Rhetoric and Digital Media; Assistant Professor in Science, Culture, and Writing; Associate Professor in Rhetoric and Communication; Two Lecturers in Rhetoric and Technical or Science Communication...

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Julian Baggini, founding editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine and author of the latest A Short History of Truth (Quercus 2017), reviews Kierkegaard's foresight as well as his value to our present age. Baggini states, "Kierkegaard insisted on . . . recognizing that honest intellectual work requires a sincere attempt to see things as they are and an authentic recognition of how one’s own nature, beliefs and biases inevitably shape one’s perceptions."

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What should thinking be, what can it be, and why? Additionally, do the best varieties of thinking require ethical acts? Chad Wellmon, associate professor of German studies at the University of Virginia and the author of Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University, reviews How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds by Alan Jacobs, Baylor University's Distinguished Professor of Humanities. Wellmon reports, "For Jacobs . . . thinking well is a matter of character: the character of the thinker and the character of those whose claims and arguments are being assessed. Learning to think well, [Jacobs] writes (channeling John Stuart Mill), is to become 'alive in all your parts and therefore ready to perceive the world as it is.'” Wellmon adds, "The notion that there are multiple ways of knowing should not be dismissed as a naïve or lazy relativism . . . . rather . . . no vision of knowledge can ever be fully 'adequate to what the world is really like,' because the world is so wondrously ordered that no single vision, however internally coherent, could ever subsume it. Call it an ethics of knowledge for a post-Newtonian world."

In addition to "channeling Mill," How to Think's "ethics of knowledge" seems to reorient, maybe re-educate, readers senses with Quintilian's Institutio Oratoria, which is fitting for both the ancient and "post-Newtonian world."
Let Us Think Together
Let Us Think Together
weeklystandard.com

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Gillian Darley, a writer and broadcaster that specializes in architecture and landscape and is co-author of Words in Place (Five Leaves, 2013), writes of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space: "‘Bachelardian’ has become cultural shorthand for the lyrical possibilities of conjuring memory from buildings, and it is this book that brought it, and him, to prominence outside France." In this essay, "Intimate Spaces," Darley reviews how "Gaston Bachelard created a philosophy of at-homeness, rich in emotion and memory." One question we might make in consequence of this essay might be about language itself: in addition to how Bachelard engagingly addresses his topic, how does Bachelard uses language itself to create a sense of "emotion and memory"?

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On The New York Public Library: "The stacks...can hold 4 million books." While this is grand, how are we to distribute knowledge when some of the most rare and important ideas are singularly in archives? Discussing this topic is James Somers' article, "Keepers of the Secrets."

Somers writes that according to archivist Thomas Lannon, The New York Public Library's Acting Charles J. Liebman Curator of Manuscripts, some ideas that don't yet exist in journal or book form also "aren’t digitized." Thus, the "only way to find out what’s inside them is...to hold the old papers in your hands." According to Lannon, this is "the paradox of being an archivist....to help others to know [something]" but, at the same time, not "to impose...knowledge on anyone else."

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From The Times Literary Supplement, a book review of Anthony Gottlieb's The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy. A sequel to Gottlieb's popular The Dream of Reason, reviewer Jonathan Clark states, "[in] this elegantly written and insightful survey of selected [enlightenment] thinkers...Gottlieb argues for their key role in the formation of the Enlightenment [...] The new science is central to this book, but proves to be a source of contention as well as of common cause."

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Combining form and world: responses to aesthetics, beauty, and politics through 18th and 19th century continental philosophy, by Justine Kolata, founder and director of The Public Sphere, and the co-founder and co-director of The Bildung Institute.

"In a global culture that appears increasingly obsessed with radical individualism...and incendiary political rhetoric, it is hard to imagine that society once cared about the beauty of the soul [...] the beautiful soul is far more than a beautiful idea. In turning towards aesthetics, the philosophers of the German Aufklärung (Enlightenment) did not naively evade political realities. Instead, they offered a holistic theory"
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