of intellectual doldrums & filipino voices
in a speech on publishing in the regional languages that poet professor Ricky de Ungria delivered in cebu’s academic publishing fair last july, he dared point out, bully for him, what ails the intellectual life of the filipino, which i dare say is true for mainstream media and the blogosphere as well.
“I refer not only to the appalling lack of criticism or critical frameworks by which standards of quality, excellence in craftsmanship, good judgment and taste are defined and observed in the production and appreciation of works.
. . . . for good or ill, our country appears to be a place where everybody is or wants to be an artist and no one wants to be a critic. A good ninety percent or more of the literary books published are creative works; the rest, on a good year, would be critical work.
. . . . this is an unhappy situation: for without the rigor and passion of critical thought that puts up certain standards of excellence in literary productions and points at directions that our many literatures could take, all we will have would be back-patting and mutually admiring literary coteries producing more of the same year after year, contest after contest.
. . . . the fact that of the total number of higher academic institutions wehave in the country, only three or four regularly make it to the lower rungs of the top universities in the world should tell us something about the state of affairs in our education sector.
Would it be too much to conclude from these that there is no viable intellectual or artistic climate in our country where ideas come freely and are grist for the mill of the mind- except for the political that passes off as an activity of the mind?
Would it be too much to put down as a corollary that we don’t have an intellectual climate, nor can we bear to support one simply because we have lost the passion for truth because truth has turned out to be manipulable and changeable and undependable?
Or perhaps because we have not shaken off our feudal cast of mind and psyche that inhibits us from critiquing the ideas of the “elder statesmen” in our fields as a result of a kind misplaced measure of deference or respect for elders, and that allows us to accept conveniently their word as “law” so we don’t have to bother with it anymore as we go on quietly with our own desperate lives?
. . . . year after year, we hold conferences and workshops on the state of this or that industry in the country, and we end up hearing more or less the same old things being said as if anew.
. . . . There being no such thing as an intellectual climate in the country, there is little knowledge production going on at all. If we can’t even get our facts down pat, how do we even presume to advance to the next step of knowledge creation?
When we debate, we debate with persons and not ideas. Disagreements take on the unhappy form of personal affronts and become desultory and, in some instances, life-threatening. Then again, how can we be assured that the knowledge produced so far is legitimate, given that much of the valuable information about us is in the hands and shelves of foreign funding agencies and foreign scholars?
. . . . If, as with the fate of colonized countries, the colonial language remains the main means of intellectual discourse and knowledge creation, …in our particular case there still appears to be no decent intellectual discourse and knowledge creation in English, or our version of it, even in Manila, and still lesser, though emergent (the word “inchoate” came to mind) discourse has come about in Filipino. . . .”
CUT to the blogosphere’s filipino voices, a political group blog offering news, politics, and social commentary, that’s been getting raves from a circle of political bloggers and their followers/commenters but where the discourse is quite, well, “inchoate” comes to mind, just because freedom of expression is the only value and critical thinking stops short of seriously discussing and crafting options and solutions that could contribute to knowledge production and nation-building.
to my mind fv is just an extension of manolo quezon’s blog, featuring as it does mostly bloggers cited now and then by mlq3 in his daily dose, but nothing more: no unifying thread, no consensus on anything, no attempt at synthesis to sift the grain from the chaff, writer blogger as well as reader/commenter left on his/her own, sink or swim, ang pikon, talo. good job :-(
Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, is about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, he argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group.
The book presents numerous case studies and anecdotes to illustrate its argument, and touches on several fields, primarily economics and psychology. The opening anecdote relates Francis Galton’s surprise that the crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts).
The book relates to diverse collections of independently-deciding individuals, rather than crowd psychology as traditionally understood. Its central thesis, that a diverse collection of independently-deciding individuals is likely to make certain types of decisions and predictions better than individuals or even experts, draws many parallels with statistical sampling, but there is little overt discussion of statistics in the book.”
interesting nga, if it’s true. and if it applies to all kinds of decision-making. and if it works in the third world as well. and if it actually applies to filipino voices, where no one is keeping track of anything, no one is doing any “averaging” of any opinions on any issues, so how can anyone, writer blogger or reader/commenter, know that/what the group is contributing to anyone’s decision-making, if any?
but wait, here’s more from nick himself:
Here is something, if even on the concept alone, that can help us understand the usefulness of how groups can contribute to a better understanding and a better result in terms of decision making, and in our case, maybe in terms of our views and analysis on issues of great importance.
The wisdom of the crowd can only work, if each individual contributes independently of one another. To rely, solely on others’ views and opinions can not only turn this theory upside-down, but can inevitably lead to what could be termed as “The Stupidity of The crowd”. The stupidity of the crowd, in my opinion lies when individuals cease to think independently of one another. If we can isolate the views and opinions of individuals, then we have a better shot at arriving at a better outcome.”
oh my. ano daw? independent thinking and endless debate lead to wisdom? relying on the views of others leads to stupidity? clearly fv’s nick needs a crash course on dialectics.
In classical philosophy, dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is controversy: the exchange of arguments and counter-arguments respectively advocating propositions (theses) and counter-propositions(antitheses). The outcome of the exercise might not simply be the refutation of one of the relevant points of view, but a synthesis or combination of the opposing assertions, or at least a qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.”
keywords: “qualitative transformation in the direction of the dialogue.” until he gets it, he should stop with the intellectual pretensions muna because, really, buking na buking that he’s in way over his head.