Monday, October 10, 2005

"What is 'Reality'?": An update

In a previous post, I shared with you that I'd be playing around in class with the Allegory of the Cave and other descriptions of Reality as a way of introducing the notion of argument to my Comp I students. I also said that I'd let you know how it went. Well, since I'm delaying my return to grading (see today's earlier post) for a while, I thought I would let you know.

I think it went well. Something as simple as staring down a long hallway and agreeing that, yes, what we SEE is not in fact what IS (and, for that matter, reminding them that the heliocentric description of the solar system runs counter to what our senses tell us is happening) worked well as an entree into the discussion. Some were also intrigued by the idea that the man in the Allegory is initially slow to accept a new explanation of reality; one student, in fact, is making that the subject of his paper.

I said the things I wanted to say, but I mostly let the conversation follow its own course. I wanted the students to try and navigate those waters; my guiding them would have defeated much of the real point of the day, which was to encourage them to really think about what they know and how they know it.

As for those who left comments on that earlier post, I must also thank MoleculaRR for his anecdote about his prof's introduction to Hume and the idea of discussing the difference between "fact" and "truth." That will be perfect for my Comp II class, which begins next week. Thanks as well to Veach St. Glines for teaching me a new word. "Chatoyance," in fact, would be a great name for a blog . . . Finally, thanks to Ariel for the kind comment. It's an easy sort of discussion to have in a Comp class, and an appropriate one to have, at that.

2 comments:

fearful_syzygy said...

That's a new one for me too, but, without trying to be too pedantic, shouldn't the noun be chatoyement?

Raminagrobis said...

I think the 'correct' scientific term for the phenomenon is 'photochromism', but I'd agree that chatoiement is preferable, if only for the sake of poetry. As in these verses of Verlaine:

Riches, les vêtements des seigneurs et des dames
[...]
Chantent l'ode du luxe en chatoyantes gammes