A Woven Agenda
November 9, 2009  Volume 41… Number 24

Intent Sources Action Knowledge
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When you are in San Francisco please join us
11-12    New York Times Weekly Summary MSNBC
12-1:30  Deliberation on the week

Cup and Cake
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Copyright Border Studies Associates 2009    www:.borderstudiesassociates.net 


Sources for Consideration

From Journalism

The Tuesday elections had the effect of giving pause to liberals in the United States.
The outcome of Afghan election confusions left everyone unclear.
Prospect of a Health Reform bill in the US seemed more likely.

From the Arts

Three movies on women, marginalization and related matters

Amelia, The Beaches of Agnes and Coco Chanel all deal with the remarkable success of these women in the face of severe obstacles.  Watch how this can affect our knowledge of how status and role operate and how questions of justice intrude.  If you accept that there is a rational element in shaping your actions, you will want to take very seriously how all of these considerations affect your actions, not only in terms of gender, but in terms of race and age and disability and migration.

From the interweave of ordinary knowledge and extraordinary knowledge

In the form of 40 million religious persons being part of global support for the UN millenia goals’


Constructing Knowledge or Consciousness

Under “Sources” we suggested several items for consideration in public discourse or common experience.  The approach we are taking assumes that the arts play a crucial part in shaping how we look at life and how we will proceed to affect life.
We choose as a focus the issue of marginalization of those occupying various roles, and status like gender, age and race.

Now  we must insert our new knowledge into our old  knowledge and then act

The Sunday Morning Talk Shows predictably focused on the election.  If our “Human Nature Knowledge” includes some sort of approximation of the charts and diagrams the talk shows use, we probably up-dated the ’08 election, to show that Obama supporters do not seem to be following through on their convictions of a year ago—they did not vote!

For some, this is a crisis of justice versus continuing abandonment of the 40 million without health coverage, except emergency rooms.


Constructing Intent or Conscience

As we move toward the conclusion of our work with Sandel, Harvard and the Boston
TV station, we need to focus on how this ties in with our effort.  Sandel’s final four points speak to this issue:

Citizenship, Sacrifice and Service
The moral limits of markets
Inequality, solidarity and civic virtue
A politics of moral engagment

Scott elaborates on our sharing the Sandel dialogue:

It's been difficult for me to come up with an easy definition or response for Sandel's justice series.  I was struck by how much of the early discussion had to do with property, but how many ethical or moral situations and dilemmas raised by the questions are different from that.  Mary Astell from the mid-1700s, challenged Locke's concept of "natural" and its exclusion of women.  Rawls contextualized justice from a fairness perspective.

The varied perspectives led me to look to see if anyone else had synthesized concepts of justice in one place other than the Dictionary of the History of Ideas (well-written).  I did a search on "liberal justice" to get started and found a site (http://science.jrank.org/pages/7804/Justice.html#ixzz0WN6F4oZq) that summarized five different perspectives on the issue.  I find these to be representative of the "weave" notion borderstudies has been emphasizing.  What's striking are the differences in seeking commonality.

<quoting> "Reasonable resolutions of such disputes require critical evaluation of the alternative conceptions of justice available to us. Philosophical debate at the beginning of the twenty-first century supports five major conceptions of justice:

  1. a libertarian conception, which takes liberty to be the ultimate political ideal;
  2. a socialist conception, which takes equality to be the ultimate political ideal;
  3. a welfare liberal conception which takes contractual fairness or maximal utility to be the ultimate political ideal;
  4. a communitarian conception, which takes the common good to be the ultimate political ideal; and
  5. a feminist conception, which takes a gender-free society to be the ultimate political ideal."

Read more: http://science.jrank.org/pages/7804/Justice.html#ixzz0WN6F4oZq


Acting accordingly

We have developed the idea that “Woven Agenda” means allowing our intent, our sources and our knowledge, to comingle as the basis of our action.  To illustrate:

I (MMcA) had tea at sunset last evening, at the beach, with an admiral in the Coast Guard who also owns, with his wife, 160 acres of an almond ranch in the Central Valley of California, just off the I-5 freeway from Mexico to Canada.

Mike immediately identifies himself as a conservative.

I (MMcA) respond with “How do you feel about the Republican Health Reform bill that leaves most of the 40,000,000 still uninsured”.

Mike responds “I do not believe any statistics”.

What is converging here are:

Intent—    what do you mean by justice?

Sources— how do you react to the news of the Republican Health Reform bill?

Action—  is conversation a form of action?  Like elections?  Like demonstrating?

Knowledge—what do you know about health care for all of us or some of us?


So why would you keep at the question of serious deliberation and its recognition?

For 40 years we have fretted over the issue of the structure and process.

A Mid-October Woven Agenda referred to border studies as an inquiry into several disciplines crucial to relating our
sources > knowledge > intent > action.
A working list could include disciplines crucial to .the relations we focus upon:
journalism, medicine, law, technology, finance
anthropology, psychology, sociology
the arts: visual, auditory, literary; history; biography
geology, biology, ecology
cultural life, political life, economic life

It was proposed, reluctantly, that the crucial issue is to be a “Jack of all trades and master of some”.  One appears as an impert rather than an expert, but it is the price that must be paid for relating
sources > knowledge > intent > action.

Last week referred to the Adjacent Schools, as a vehicle for treading the narrow line between serious, but informal study and academic recognition.  21st Century people, being who they are, may cherish the opportunity for recognition in a graduate research enterprise.

Legally, there is no “instruction” but only the ongoing border studies research.  We ask that half time colleagues contribute a day a week plus an online or offline session with others.  This same participation is barter so that the resources and services are free.

When we say “contribute” we mean bringing to bear a border studies approach to where you live and work and play and share power.
The Primer develops this idea further, suggesting that we take ordinary knowledge and intermingle it with extraordinary knowledge, adding expert derived knowledge as a complement to our own limitations.  Philosophical type reflection enhances this foundation for the continual transition from cultural to political to economic life.


A half unit a week for 8 hours of shared serious reflection

Our model for this experiment is the weekly New England Journal of Medicine.
At the back it has a four  page set of questions about an article in that issue.  The object is for  the reader to answer  the questions and get a unit of Continuing Education Credit
It is all done on the honor system.

Of course, a medical doctor has a large  stock of information and skill as her or his point of departure in dealing with just one article.  Our problem is different.  We want to demonstrate that intent, sources and  knowledge all converge on action.  We focus on just one sixteenth of the framework we propose in our Primer each week, the matter of intent is more total than just a fragment and the sources bubble up with fresh material every week.

You will recall the suggestion was that you share your reflection by contributing through the blog system.  The nest and last page suggests 7 questions.  Hopefully, they apply to anyone of serious concern.  In  terms of  way the world works, they could even point toward a Continuing Education unit rather than an academic unit.

One thought aside, it was mentioned in an earlier Woven Agenda, that the 1/2 unit-8 hours was derived from the “Bologna Process”.  This is a system widely  used in Europe and elsewhere on the planet  to provides structure for evaluation of higher education.  They proposed that one spend 30 hours a week in serious activity, like lab work or work at a field station, in order  to generate a full unit of credit.  It seemed that could be reduced if one stressed the gravity of deliberation and reflection.  A half unit seemed more palatable to the constituency we have served the past 40 years.  That yields 8 hours plus a couple of  hours of deliberation on or off line.

So, the next page presents 7 questions that grow out of the Primer and its use in a 4 month long course that is offered three times a year, continually.  Perhaps the term “Body of Knowledge” best  suits the idea of bringing all you know into a given discussion.  The same applies to your aesthetic and ethic and  to your  perception of the day's developments.


In your locale from the vantage point of the roles you play:
1)How do persons set the stage for constructing ordinary knowledge and their own knowledge acquired from experts?

2) How do they handle the sources of  their extraordinary knowledge?

3) How would you characterize their ordinary knowledge,  especially their view of  human nature?

4) What about extraordinary knowledge and its relation to ordinary knowledge?

5) What about expert knowledge?

6) How much philosophical reflection is there?

7) What about the swirl of everyday roles?

For a response to your responses or to contact us:
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415 632 9222

Last modified: Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 07:14 PM