Critique, Thinking and the Shock of the Encounter


Larval Subjects concludes a well thought out and interesting response/diagnosis to student malaise (as well as some of the issues raised here, here and here):

In light of the foregoing, it seems that we are faced with two possible pedagogies. If we assume that thought is a natural attribute, an innate disposition, then we will pursue a pedagogy that assumes it is sufficient to explain in order for students to engage in certain forms of intellectual engagements. This seems to lead to much frustration, for in the humanities and social sciences, at least, we discover that very few of the students seem capable of benefiting from our explanations. However, if we begin with the premise that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that disrupts our habitudes, then we will not be surprised that students have a difficult time distinguishing rhetoric from arguments, recognizing ideology, or discerning deeper strata of texts. Such students have not made the transition from the immediacy of the being in question (language, social organization, texts), to the reflection-into-self that problematizes these phenomenon and turns them into a question.

Since I’ve been on something of an Althusser kick as of late, this kind of materialism and the suggestion that thought is an involuntary result of an encounter that interrupts our habitual formations seems by and large quite correct to me. I don’t have too much time this morning, but here a few thoughts. Continue reading