Thursday, January 8, 2009

Culture, Art and Technology - UCSD podcast review

One of the most exciting lecture series has kicked off: UCSD's CAT 2, Culture, Art and Technology. Last year, I was alerted to this course by DIY Scholar, but once I subscribed, the course had nearly finished. Before I knew it, UCSD took it off line and I had only a few unrelated lectures to go on. It goes to show how important it is, when you decide to try a course on UCSD, to download all lectures as soon as possible and store them for later use.

The feed delivers at this point two files, lecture 1 and lecture 2. Lecture 1 is empty and lecture 2 is actually the first encounter. Professor Tal Golan, who delivers the course, uses this lecture, as do so many other instructors, to introduce the assistants and go over a range of household issues relevant only to the students in the room. By Lecture 3 it will become much more exciting.

It is worthwhile to endure the largely superfluous content of this lecture, nevertheless, because Golan gives a few teasers to warm you up. He does not however define the course as such. It is probably not so easy to define. To call it a history of thought, or a dialectic of knowledge and culture, or the parallel of knowledge construction and social construction, makes it sound fancy, but have a certain level of abstraction that it also either covers too little or too much. Golan avoids such terminology and throws a couple of examples to challenge and entice the audience. How could Aristotle be influential for 2500 years, when science and thought has always reinvented itself (and most thinkers? Why was the switch to a heliocentric picture of the universe so important? By all means this is going to be a thrilling, if challenging, ride of wonder, of a whole different way of looking at the construction of culture.

About the previous course:
The dialectic of knowledge and culture.

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