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Friday, December 10, 2010

Questions from the Classroom

Questions from the Classroom

Following are the questions that have come to me from the classroom while teaching various courses. I do not have answers for them, either because of my lack of exposure to the disciplines, or schools of thinking from where these come from, or because of the limitation of my own intellectual work, or ….

I put them here so that they are not lost to me or to someone else who might be asking similar questions.

I wish to address them either through guest lectures, or through falling back on accessible resources. In case someone out there wishes to help us from any part of the globe with a guest lecture via skype or similar technologies, you are most welcome. You may also refer to a book or essay which we can read.

Your response can
a. help us understand or articulate the question better
b. resolve the issue raised in the question.

While giving out the questions I will also attempt to give the title of the course where the question came up, the essay that gave rise to the question and the date and place. Names of the those who came up with these questions will be disclosed only with prior permission. However, some acronym will be used to identify the person in case of need for further clarity in the future.

The Questions
1. Can we have experience without a linguistic referent for it? Can we understand an experience without having a signifier for it in language? Can there be signifieds without signifiers? Do we understand a word only because of its linguistic property or because of other concrete experience. E.g. How do i understand the word justice. Don’t I require a situation to understand it?

2. Do feminists, esp. Cixous and Irigary believe that experience is accessible only through language?

3. How are sense perception, experience, thought, and language different?

( All the above questions come from Translation Studies Course taught for MA English while discussing Roman Jakobson’s “On the Linguistic Aspects of Translation on 10 Dec 2010 @ CU. Came in the discussion with DR) 

4. What is knowledge? Is there a difference between knowledge in sciences and knowledge in social sciences? Is social science knowledge not sound?

5. Is all knowledge, including that generated by science, male knowledge? If so is feminist epistemology possible/conceivable? 

6. What is language? Can we think of thought and language as two independent domains? Can language truly capture all our emotions and feelings? Are feelings and thoughts separate cognitive domains? what is the difference between idea, concept, thought.
(These questions came from II BA JPEng class while teaching American Literature course in the last week of August 2010 during the interaction with SS, N, and others)

7. Can we distinguish between feeling and thought? Are they the same or are they different, if the originate from the same place – brain/mind? Does one follow the other – does feeling come after thought or though after feeling? (Nidhi v Krishna, 12 Jan 2011)

8. Even after understanding our positions within structures that govern us, most importantly ideological, why do we go back to the same subjective positions knowing that these structures and positions are oppressive/oppressing? (Nidhi v Krishna, Dec 2010)

9. Is there a difference between calling something 'theoretical' and 'philosophical'? In other words, what is the difference between theory and philosophy? Within Kantian epistemology, isn't philosophy supposed to do what theory is doing today - Reflect on and issue/subject?

10. What is the philosophic distinction between emotions and thoughts? "Tagore was keener on expressing his emotions rather than strictly translating his Bengali work." In this sentence how do we know we really are referring to emotions? (23 April 2011, Anil)

11. What is the distinction between thought, idea, concept, word, term, category? (6 July 2011, BA English Honours class, CU)

12. Do we have translation a concept for translation? If yes what is it?  (6 July 2011, BA English Honours class, CU)

13. What is the difference between ideology and discourse?

14. When and why did the ideas of holistic renaissance humanist scholar change? (14 July 2012, IMA English class)

10 Sept. 2012 (MPhil Psychology)
15. Can sensory experiences be quantified?

16. What do we quantify in research in psychology?

17. What is the purpose of quantitative research in psychology?

18. When did psychology feel the need for quantitative research?

19. What is the value of geometry to psychological research?

20. How do you establish truth through empirical research methods

21. What is the need of quantitative research in psychology?

22. Is psychology trying to imitate science through quantitative methods? If so, why does it  need to imitate? 


Divya said...

Thanks you for posting the Qs Mr. Pinto. :)

funnyguy said...

What is language? Can we think of thought and language as two independent domains? Can language truly capture all our emotions and feelings? Are feelings and thoughts separate cognitive domains? what is the difference between idea, concept, thought.

Let me try to answer these questions one by one:

what is language?

The clich├ęd answer would be language is a tool for communication and to simplify it further, it is just meaningful sounds (in spoken form) and meaningful signs (in written form).

Can we think of thought and language as two independent domains?

My nebulous answer would be no because most of us think only through language. At times one can even think in terms of colors, shapes, and even actions for artistic and logistic purposes...but when they are reported you need a language to explain them. Therefore, my answer is no.

Can language truly capture all our emotions and feelings?

Certainly no...human mind is capable of complicated, subtle feelings and emotions that are indeed ineffable...there may be terms related to such feelings but not a precise term to clearly describe them.

Are feelings and thoughts separate cognitive domains?

Don't you think feelings are more of involuntary kind and thoughts can be created voluntarily?

what is the difference between idea, concept, thought.

Thought: a process to create an idea.

Idea: an uncertain design/plan which one want to use

Concept: a notion that has got a bit of recognition...yet nobody is deterministic about it.

You can have one more term as bonus: Theory: an idea,concept about which people are deterministic...


hope this helps...for comments and suggestions:

Shruti Kedia said...

Sir, this is in reference to the first question. I do not believe in "language constructs reality" as proposed by structuralism. This is reality beyond language and the only reason why our mind fail to perceive that is because we are limited by our sense organs. For example when your in the presence of utmost silence an inner peace, a sense of pure reality, a moment of bliss is conjured. To understand the emotion one has to experience it. Just because there is no appropriate word to justify the feeling does not mean that it does not exist. So language or linguistic only binds us; limits our horizon!!

Anil Pinto said...

Question of language and its relation to feelings/perceptions is extremely daunting for me. All the same, will attempt a response to Shruti. Language constructing the 'reality' is fundamental arguments of phenomenology, to my mind. To be precise, Husserl. However, if it is true that mind-body divide is a European divide and a particular cultural response to understanding 'self', and that if such a divide is already sufficiently challenged, then we can't talk of 'realities of mind'. If the access to 'perception' is only through language, then paralinguistic notions of experience and perception are impossibilities. Having said this, let me admit the this domain is still a maze for me.

Meera said...

Is all knowledge, including that generated by science, male knowledge? If so is feminist epistemology possible/conceivable?
A reading of Sandra Harding would be interesting from her book. I time permits I will post a summary.of her essay

Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women's Lives

Anil Pinto said...

A summary would be brilliant. Could you also suggest a reading list? Also a list of books that we can procure for the library in this area. That will help further engagement with these questions