11.0113 contributions to Humanist

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 20:25:33 +0100 (BST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 11, No. 113.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

Date: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 07:57:57 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk>
Subject: contributions to Humanist

Here is a matter with which the philosophers amongst us can help. It
concerns the contributions to Humanist (or to other online seminars) that
advance an argument or otherwise add to a discussion rather than those
supplying factual information.

In several exchanges I have had with members of Humanist -- or is it in
exchanges I have wanted to have with them? -- I've been reminded that the
point of such contributions is not to be right but to clarify the discussion
as a whole, to advance the discussants' understanding in some way, even to
provoke them into thinking a bit harder about something important. Once,
that is, one moves from monologue to dialogue, what matters is the whole
conversation rather than any of its individual parts. I would suppose that
the same is true of the difference between a lecture and a seminar.

Do we not have a particularly clear case of this in an electronic seminar,
disembodied and shared among discussants who may never meet each other?

Apart from the philosophical questions the above provokes, I mean this as
encouragement to all who have only lurked on Humanist because they felt they
did not know enough to say something that is true. Lurking is of course
fine, but I would not like to think that anyone lurked in the conviction
that he or she had to be right. One only has to avoid being dull!
Fortunately for us all, here decorum seldom if ever seems to be a problem.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk