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On Why and How

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  1. On “Why” and “How” The Power of Words, The Decadence of Western Educational Systems and a New Role for Aesthetics Marino Maiorino – IFAE – 18/06/2009

  2. Summary • Childish and Mature Questions: “Why?” And “How?” • Meaningful and Effective Communication • “The Ancient Greeks, They Sung!” • Homer, the Bards, the Minstrels • The Secret Power of Words • Mnemosine • Language in Educational Systems • The Peripathetic School • Cloysters and Deambulatoria • The Present Day Western Educational Systems and Their Role in Society • Good Tools for No Purpose: Latin at School • Expression: NOT Only A Matter of Language • Is there a place left for Aesthetics? • Functional meaning of Aesthetics • Conclusions

  3. Why? – Pourquoi? – ¿Por qué? - ¿Per què? – Perché? Denotes the wish to know the for what reason an event happened. This reason may be a natural law, a free will, anything. How? – Comme? ¿Como? - ¿Com? – Come? Denotes the wish to know the effective cause that led some event to happen. “How” excludes free will from the possible causes. “Why?” and “How?”

  4. Meaningful and Effective Communication • Language is a Communication Protocol • Mastering of Language is Mandatory for Proper, Meaningful and Effective Coomunication • Improper knowledge of language may lead to: • Misunderstandings • Mistakes • Troubles • Health Troubles!

  5. “The Ancient Greeks, They Sung!” • Heard quite often by Latin and Greek teachers for NO GOOD REASON; • Not an example of bad communication: the base of this presentation; • Did the Ancient Greeks really sing? • “the Muse has taught them the pathways, since she loves the company of singers” Homer, Odyssey 8.481 • How did the Greeks preserved their cultural heritage over the centuries? • Oral tradition!!!

  6. Homer, the Bards, the Minstrels • Greeks (classical tradition) did not write themselves! • Poems were seldom repetitions of the same sounds in similar words, so that they could be remembered more easily • In Celtic Europe, bards needed an apprenticeship of 16 years before getting their “grades” • Their tradition passed to the Minstrels of the “Chansons de Geste”

  7. Homer, the Bards, the Minstrels • Butrica, J.L., “A PLEONASTIC USE OF KAI AND ET IN EPIC SIMILES”, Mnemosyne, Volume 53, Number 2, 2000 , pp. 129-138(10) • A pleonasm is a device that entails the use of a word superfluous to the literal meaning of a sentence, and which therefore could be deleted without affecting the sense of something. • A comparable situation is observed between the titles pontifex maximus and archiereus megistos. Arch-iereus would be enough, because arch- already gives the idea of maximus, like iereus that of pontifex: but yet we find in addition also its full form, even if pleonastic, probably because archiereus megistos is rhythmically and phonetically close to pontifex maximus. • Iliad, Odissey, Beowulf, Kalevala… ”Enkä lähe Inkerelle, penkerelle, pänkerelle;

  8. Homer, the Bards, the Minstrels • Roman Battering Ram • In latin Aries = Ram

  9. The Secret Power of Words • “In the beginning there was The Verb…” • Most magic (and sacred rituals) requires the spelling of a spoken formula. • In English, to spell = to pronounce, to mean, to enchant • A word pronounced by a bard or a druid could stop the foes in a battle, make them flee away… • According to some sources, the true name of Rome was not known: Rome was given around so that foe sorcerers could not curse the name and therefore the town!!! • The Power is in the Transmission of Thought: Telepathy!!!

  10. Mnemosine • Words are shells for concepts • How do we remember concepts? • Assonations, rhymes (sound help) • Poems, songs (memory help) • Word formulas (tricky but enjoyable help) • Numerical formulas (successions, series) • Memotechniques (Pico della Mirandola, Dominican Monks, Jesuites Priests) • Mandatory: proper language development

  11. Language in Educational Systems • Learning by memory is pure notionism… • Spoken examinations are stressful… • Speaking is being reduced to a minimum, useless, bad joke • Ortography errors (not to mention problems in proper sentence construction) are overly tolerated • General philosophy: teaching quality is measured by the number of students passing the examinations, therefore… • …set the teaching standards to a lower level in order to allow more students to pass the exams!!!

  12. The Peripathetic School • Pythagoras had his disciples walking under the stoà (covered corridor around the agorà, whence the name of “stoic” school) while he was discussing with them. • The idea behind this: the repetition of concepts in the form of poems or rhymes while walking between cadenced columns, helps focusing on the subject and repeating the concepts

  13. Cloysters and Deambulatoria • In middle ages, monks walked in their buildings while reading the Bible. The decorations often followed a logical order. • The monks could remember the books they were reading by simply looking at the decorations they had nearby.

  14. The Present Day Western Educational Systems and Their Role in Society • Education is: preparing young generations to be active members of the society • Nowadays this means: kids have to know what to do in a factory • Freedom of the individual is the advertised target • Responsibility towards oneself and the others, self-motivation, inner self-growth are of no value • Life may be tough at times. This is simply wiped out by a diffuse acceptance of mediocrity as a life style. • No death, no war, no sickness, no unemployment, no problems…

  15. Good Tools for No Purpose:Latin at School • Dead Languages are useless? • Latin/Greek teachers are able to teach? • Coded grammars are focused to the educative task? • What are “cases” in latin and why there are “complements” on top of them? • Exceptions CONFIRM the rules? WTF? • Deeper knowledge of the matter needed! • Think about the language: think what you say, in order to express correctly your thought!

  16. Expression: NOT OnlyA Matter of Language • Literature • Poetry • Painting • Music • Architecture, engineering • Your everyday life • Hobbies…

  17. Is there a place left for Aesthetics? • Aesthetics makes our life merrier • Objects today designed for function (they say) • Must we survive with functional, foul objects?

  18. Functional Meaning of Aesthetics • Aesthetics makes things more appealing (Apple vs. PC’s) • Working with “nice” tools makes the work more enjoyable (productivity improves) • When developing tools, software, think in the user satisfaction, not only the function • Embed aesthetics in function!

  19. Conclusions • Express properly • Express nicely • Express through your work