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Noam Chomsky on the Purpose of Education | Brain Pickings


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On technology:

Technology is basically neutral. It’s kind of like a hammer. The hammer doesn’t care whether you use it to build a house, or whether a torturer uses it to crush somebody’s skull.”

On the importance of having a framework for what matters when engaging with the the information economy — or, one might say, the essence of what great curation should be:

You can’t pursue any kind of inquiry without a relatively clear framework that’s directing your search and helping you choose what’s significant and what isn’t… If you don’t have some sort of a framework for what matters — always, of course, with the provisor that you’re willing to question it if it seems to be going in the wrong direction — if you don’t have that, exploring the Internet is just picking out the random factoids that don’t mean anything… You have to know how to evaluate, interpret, and understand… The person who wins the Nobel Prize is not the person who read the most journal articles and took the most notes on them. It’s the person who knew what to look for. And cultivating that capacity to seek what’s significant, always willing to question whether you’re on the right track — that’s what education is going to be about, whether it’s using computers and the Internet, or pencil and paper, or books.”

You can't get what you want till you know what you want.

Chomsky is obviously a high level thinker. However he does not think in universal terms. 

A hammer is not neutral.  A hammer is not sentient but it is not neutral. It did not spontaneously manifest into being.  Materials were mined, there are production facilities and distribution ..... People worked to create it and people made wages and profit that were used for other purposes. A hammer made in a Chinese labor camp is not equivalent to one made in Ohio. 

Technology is even less neutral.  Not only does it have the same hardware production issues, it is chaotic in its application because it is not bound by time and space like a pure material good.  

Say I engage in a consensual  act of sex.  It may be positive negative or neutral for the people involved and while we are all connected it is diluted like a rain drop in a lake.  

If I with technology make porn, technology transmuted sex into porn by making an act that would otherwise dissolve, into a entity that can multiply indefinitely and boundless in time and space. 

That in no way "neutral" and in fact it can spontaneously multiply making it nearly sentient.  

But then again nobody asks me. 

To his specific points on education.  He falls into a common if not the most common intellectual trap. 

He does not see the "indoctrination" as the causal seed of the "enlightenment" (which is not enlightenment at all). He also does not see anything beyond his own thinking. 

There is an ancient way to better understand.

There are three ways that in essence have the same goals but different views to get there. 

Renunciation is similar to indoctrination.  There is a poisonous red mushroom in the Forrest. Do not eat it! But some might be too tempted so we must destroy the mushrooms.  This will protect our lives. But there is a similar looking mushroom so we should probably destroy it as well, while we are at it nobody should eat any mushrooms. 

 Transformation is like western "enlightenment".  Yes the mushroom is deadly, but if we dilute its essence or combine it with other things we can create medicine.  We need to understand the purpose of the mushroom. 

Spontaneous Clarity. That mushroom has been around far longer than human beings.  Clearly it is not a threat as humans and animals alike since they did not kill themselves off by eating it. There is a natural sense of what is food and what is not. Additionally, the mushroom is not going to jump out of the ground and into my mouth. 

Just leave it as it is. 

We still need to know what is helpful and not helpful, we still need to be able to seek transformation of unhelpful. 

My education is to use all means to teach spontaneous clarity and then help those that just can't leave it alone. 

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