Sunday, March 27, 2005

Fish heaps

Homo ludens is alive and kicking, or so I've gleaned from Arthur Krentz's Play and Education in Plato's Republic. (For a staidlier view of Socratic pedagogy, seeEducation in Plato's Republic, by Ariel Dillon). The weak link in Krentz's exposition is of course Glaucon. Nobody in their right mind takes Glaucon seriously, which rather throws the whole kaboodle into doubt, and some of the kit besides. What kind of education is Glaucon receiving, really?

Plato's soft spot for submental dialectical interlocuters undercuts all sorts of nifty conclusions one might wish to draw about Socratic method--but that's according to a student of philosophy. Yaks can be a little slow at times.

Consider the following passage from Frederic Jameson's The Prison-House of Language, which also plays upon the allegory of the cave in its way:

Perhaps for the layman nothing illustrates the dependence of the mind on such binary oppositions so well as the apparent excepetion, in which our differential perceptions click on and off in the void. Thus, by thinking the words "fish" and "sheep" rapidly over, first in the singular and then in the plural, the mind can be felt instinctively to work up a feeling of opposition where none is physically or materially present.
Had Professor Jameson had chosen a Yak instead of a layman to be his imaginary interlocuter, he surely would have concocted a clearer example to make his point. "Fish heap?" "Fish heaps?" All I get are images of fish heaps--until I let my imagination roam of flounder or whatever it is that it does with fish heaps--Numerate? Envision? Drift off to sleep?-- Fluffy coy dream bubbles orange orange orange....Who has the baskets? Who has the baskets?

Perhaps I've illustrated what Plato meant to admonish against by his distinction between frivilous and serious play--just a minute--Serious play? And Plato wants us to believe that the sophists are what? Wrong? So long as humankind's great thinkers rely on Glaucons and their ilk to make their points, this is probably the best you can expect. Fish heaps.

posted by Fido the Yak at 7:16 PM.


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