Kukoistussyöte

David N. Perkins: The Intelligent Eye, J. Paul Getty Trust, 1994

This little book by Howard Gardner's colleague from Harvard's Project Zero project is a delightful, illuminating and accessible guide to "learning to think by looking at art" (as the subtitle of the book indicates). Over excellent fruit juices and a latte at SisDeli at Kalevankatu, I complete reading the book on this Sunday morning with growing enthusiasm and sense of the essential.

I gain insight into art.

Also (please bear with me on this somewhat self-centered thought) I gain insight into my own efforts with "elevation pedagogy" as represented in my Paphos seminar and in my experiential lecture style at the Aalto University. Elevation-oriented life-philosophical lecturing, philosophy of the everyday as a form of positive philosophical practice, is a theme that concerns me more and more, also in the aftermath of  the very encouraging response I got to my lecturing at the GoodWork/Project Zero Conference last week. Howard Gardner's closing words at the conference echo in my mind.  "We will never forget Esa and elevation", said one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

For the benefit of the education of thinking, Perkins in his highly stimulating book suggests, the point is to create a "supportive context" for "sensory anchoring", "instant access", "personal engagement", "dispositional atmosphere" which helps to "cultivate thinking dispositions - broad attitudes, tendencies, and habits of thinking", "wide-spectrum cognition" and "multiconnectedness which "allows and encourages rich connections-making" (p. 5). This is what art provides, as articulated by Perkins. This, I venture to say, is what I at least try to do with my elevational life-philosophical lecturing.

At the focus is the cultivation of thinking dispositions which Perkins defines as "felt tendency, commitment, and enthusism". This is a resource in us that does not take care of itself but requires scrutiny and tender cultivation. It is the source of tender dynamism, it seems to me - the space in which reside the better angels of our nature.

 

Kirjoitti Esa Saarinen, 17.03.2013

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