Re: congratulations mike lieber

Alx V. Dark (avd5863@IS.NYU.EDU)
Tue, 8 Nov 1994 16:53:53 -0500

On Mon, 7 Nov 1994, Daniel A. Foss wrote:

> Smartness-Stupidity is socially constructed, made up, just as race is.
> The essentiality of cognitive correlates of race is, by convention among
> you, loathesome. The essentiality of Smartness-Stupidity, on the other hand,
> is taken-for-granted, part of the Natural Order Of The Universe. I note, in
> passing, that only people who assumed the latter a priori could have supposed
> that as "levity," comic relief, your, plural, iterative citations of under-
> graduate Stupidities were *totally unrelated* to the IQ debate. (No more
> outlandish than your, plural, own conjectures, and you, plural, know it.)

Although clearly a political issue, I'm not sure cognition, intelligence,
creativity, and other mental attributes are so easily reduced to one
number (in a parody of science) or Retarded/Normal/Genius (in a parody of
politics). While race has been used as the foundational division of
people as persons or property, intelligence has usually been one
attribute among others through which elites have evaluated (and found
wanting) their subordinates (there has not been a society of Alphas and
Deltas, as Huxley described, at least not yet). Secondly, I reserve the
right to poke fun at undergraduates. They are often taxing, even more
often interesting, but none of this has to do with cognition. It is
rather a matter of education, a resource which we should hopefully
possess more of than our students, or what's the point? I could throw
any evaluation of others' education aside but that would be patently
hypocritical, since I live and die by education as a professional
academic. Again, unlike race, education may be unevenly distributed (it
is, of course), but it can be redistributed. One hopes the student of
"mid-evil surfs" has gone somewhere since that essay. . . without
denigrating the very real intelligence of that person, he or she needs a
spelling lesson (and students often need a lot more than that).
Education is a social construction of course! But I get a little
exasperated with the notion that criticism or interpretation are the same
thing as opinion -- perhaps when our conception of civil society and a
democratic forum have been successfully reduced to the talk show, they
will be. What people think, as it is expressed, can be evaluated. If
people are to grow more mindful, it had better be.

______________________________ ____________________________
Alx V. Dark Department of Anthropology
internet: New York University
"Wash your brains, think 25 Waverly Place
again, double check" -- H3O New York, NY 10003 USA