Sunday, October 10, 2004

Gadamer's Truth and Method.

Actual Event Date: 6 September 2004 (Mon)

I agree with Gadamer that ‘we cannot have experiences without asking questions. And that asking the ‘right' questions is more difficult that to answer them' Gadamer further describes ‘ someone who wants to know something cannot just leave it a matter of opinion, which is to say that he cannot hold himself aloof from the opinions that are in question… until the truth of what is under discussion finally emerges.' In other words, the person who seeks to understand the real truth will not accept the ‘truth' gathered from the masses, ala doxa. But instead he will seek to discuss the issue until the real truth finally emerges and accepts it.

Relating this to social software

Should one be able to follow the model proposed by Gadamer, he may be able to ask the right questions, and post it on his blog, mailing list, webpage, etc. However, I do not see any of those social software as a way to uncover such ‘truths'. Wikis on the other hand seem to be heading in the right direction. The nature in which no one has absolute control, and in which doxa has little or no bias gives the wiki a platform in which such Socratic dialogue can occur.

The majority of blogs out there on the web (check out randomly selected blogs from LiveJournal or Blogger ) are those that pose questions that ‘ engage in dialogue only to prove himself right and not to gain insight… ' We see it in the form of kitty blogs(link), where people just rant about their cats all day. I felt guilty at this point of writing, because as hard as it was for me to embrace blogging, majority of my posting ( link ) were just a self-reflection of what I did and observed. Although comments were available, I wrote the pieces without knowing what I did not know. I do not wait for a decisive answer, I just putting my thoughts on paper and post it on-line. Does that mean that blogging in terms of self-reflection is fundamentally flawed?

Time lapse between sending a letter & receiving an answer was forever changed with the introduction of email and the internet. Gadamer believes that speeding up this form of communication has led to a decline in the art of letter writing. We only have to look at oldaily site ( link ) to see the number of misspellings in his posts. So, we agree that letter writing form has deteriorated over the years, but have the ‘quality of responses' gotten better as a result of this new advancement in communication?

Dave asks, ‘ Many online classes have a mandatory comment posting requirement. This course has a mandatory question posting requirement. Just what does that mean?'

The prior inst 7150 class I attended had mandatory blog postings & commentary. It started out bad for me. Reasons on why I choose not to blog are succinctly summarized by Dan Appleman ( link ). However, since then I have learnt to blog, in fact I blog more often now without rules enforcing me, then I did during Wiley's prior inst 7150 class.

Some researchers belief that the quickest way to kill a discussion posting is to make it mandatory. They believe that compulsory posting are adverse in promoting online interaction through discussion boards. But is it really such a bad thing to have a mandatory posting requirement?

I now look to blogging as a personal reflection medium in which I can express & review my thoughts. I don't write for a specific audience (although some blogging gurus will violently oppose that belief). I do not ask questions that are undetermined, awaiting for a decisive answer. I believe that there is no one ‘right' solution to every question. Hence, I like to reflect by writing open-ended questions. From what I read in Gadamer's article, I follow none of his ‘right' way of asking questions. Does that make all my questions on self-reflection ‘weak' ones?

According to Gadamer's article, it is always ‘ more difficult to ask questions than to answer them '. What has this got to do with INST 7150's mandatory posting of blogs? Well, if Wiley still firmly believes in what Gadamer says, then he probably assumes that ‘commenting' on a blog (responding to questions) is easier than ‘posting on a blog', i.e. asking the tough questions. And that at the end of the semester there will be more comments than blog postings.

As Gulfidan ( link ) rightly pointed out, ‘Commenting' is not a course requirement of this inst 7150 course, but blog entries are. I too am curious to see the course blogging & commenting output at the end of this semester. The devil's advocate in me is going to guess that despite all of Gadamer's questioning being taught in this class, that the total number of comments in this entire 7150 course will be less than the number of blog entries (questions asked). Any takers?



“Have you talked to your best friend recently?”


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