Knowledge vs Knowingness

Lead and Gold excerpted a very interesting article by Michael Kelly, the Atlantic editor who was killed during the early days of the Iraq war. In the article, published in February of 2002, Kelly draws a distinction between knowledge and knowingness;:

Knowingness, of course, is not knowledge—indeed, is the rebuttal of knowledge. Knowledge was what squares had, or thought they had, and they thought that it was the secret of life. Knowingness is a celebration of the conceit that what the squares knew, or thought they knew, was worthless.

(go read the entire excerpt)

It strikes me that many trends in today’s society–especially in academia but by no means limited to it–are at least partly about enabling the attitude of knowingness.

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Sherman — Stoic Warriors

Sherman, Nancy, Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind, Oxford University Press, 2005. 242pp.

A recent article in the New Yorker discussed the repeated use of torture on the TV program “24.” Portraying torture as an effective, speedy means of extracting critical information from prisoners is flawed, it claimed. The program’s producer, Joel Surnow, continues to make torture a key dramatic element in 24’s “ticking clock” format, despite informal requests from the US military to avoid doing so. The military is concerned that young soldiers will decide that Jack Bauer‘s repeated brutalities are indeed a useful emergency tool on the modern battlefield. A contrary point of view about whether “24” is innately conservative is outlined in this article in TCS Daily.

Two questions lingered after reading the New Yorker article. (1) Is torture ever useful for gathering information on an urgent basis? (2) Does the American public’s apparent comfort with the fictional torture in “24” indicate some unrequited desire for retribution and intimidation, and/or reflect an unacknowledged (and untapped) group resolve?

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First Amendment Symposium

This weekend past, a First Amendment Symposium was held at Loyola Law School in honor of esteemed alumnus Steven Shiffrin. It was attended by eminent constitutional law scholars, including Erwin Chemerinsky, Kurt Lash, and Eugene Volokh. The topic was commercial speech, particularly in the context of Kasky v. Nike, Inc., 27 Ca. 4th 939 (2002). I’ve broken down just a hint of the arguments that each of the distinguished speakers made.

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