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Jackie Marano's picture

Class trends

      I find it rather interesting that in the first half of this course, everyone thought Darwin was boring and that Dennett was more interesting and dynamic. Now in this second half of the course, most of the class believes that Whitman was boring and that Hustvedt is more dynamic and refreshing. It seems as though we like to see a series of ideas evolve (Dennett) or a story evolve (Hustvedt), and that we are bored by mere descriptions (Darwin) or representations (Whitman) of evolution at any scale. Maybe we don't enjoy evolution consciously, that is we find it boring to read peoples' accounts of it, whether large-scale or personal. Instead, we prefer to read things and acknowledge more passively that something is evolving, whether the story is good or not.

     In some ways I think this sort of 'passive' acknowledgement of evolution opens just as much inquiry as Darwin's scientific story...do we enjoy 'passive' evolution in stories because it happens within hours, days, weeks, and lifetimes? Does the common reader have less interest in Darwin and Whitman because their ideas are too abstract, intangible, or timeless? Maybe we prefer to control or actively participate in the evolutionary process as authors, readers, and storytellers, rather than to feel that we represent the biological or psychological process itself? It seems that there's plenty of room for inquiry here...generally a good source for evolution of any type. Maybe this sort of inquiry would lead to evolution we can feel or recognize? I think this course is a source and a product of evolution, as are all humans. Recognizing that we are directing the evolution of this course and causing each other to evolve in thought is, itself, a great source of inquiry. I think that's why this course hasn't stopped evolving, and neither have we.  There is something very intriguing about controlling and experiencing evolution, perhaps more intriguing than simply studying it, it seems. 

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