Sunday, December 01, 2013

Blog 12: What is a student? A philosophical inquiry into inquiry

As I see it, the concept of "student" lacks general identification, being only meaningful to the extent that "a student" is applied to a particular realm with a field of knowledge (i.e. an objective orientation within a scope of inquiry; what we might call a realm, which is, in any case, a field of effectively demarcated discourse, even if boundaries remain implicit). To be clear, "a student" lacks signification without designating scope: "a student" is therefore always only "a student of _______ [within a field of knowledge]"

This is a necessary quality on pragmatic grounds because the generalized form "a student" takes (without a particularized field designation) implies a generalized absence of acceptance (of assumption, in other words) or of "states of knowing"; that is, to the extent that one knows X about Y, one is not a student of X about Y (though one may be a student of Y with respect to other dimensions of Y).

Having established the necessity to associate a student with some "of," my definition of a student proceeds as follows: A student is someone in a state of questioning, who strives to identify lack within a particular field of knowledge, whose action contains three conditions (which may vaguely constitute steps of learning):

(1) questioning (implicit or explicit);
(2) a desire to learn in conjunction with a willingness to listen and absorb formerly lacking data, perspective, and/or possibility.
(3) acknowledgment that there is knowledge that one does not know;
(4) active engagement in discourse (verbally, written, or otherwise) attending to sources proclaiming the knowledge one acknowledges to be lacking.

In most cases, to be a student is ephemeral: to be a student ceases with the questioning's resolution.

Everyone is a student, in the formerly disposed generalized sense, in that everyone emerged from an infantile state. Everyone becomes a student of, at one point or another, in various capacities, within a variety of contexts (which entail either open or closed scopes of inquiry).

To be student is always relative, however, to the object within the scope of the student's inquiry; that is, a student can only be identified in relation to his or her wanting knowledge, which is distinct from his or her claimed knowledge.

If I am correct, then with few exceptions, a student may be most obviously identified in terms of its absence. If we accept that everyone basically contains knowledge with respect to his or her life circumstances, to the individuated extent that each man or woman has claim to knowledge, he or she is, with reference to the knowledge claimed, not a student. Moreover, without any of the four conditions I take to constitute a student (assuming particularization), one cannot be a student.

To have any title (formally institutional or otherwise social) is to cease to be a student concerning the field over or in which the title resides. The title itself designates proficiency, which negates some or all of the listed conditions.

A student of language: A foreign exchange student who continually pursues supplementation of lack, contributing to an increasing presence of his or her knowledge with respect to grammatical normality. His or her being a student ceases when his or her questioning ceases.

For some students, the book never formally shuts, but the number of days, months, and then years separating the vanishing moments in which the book is opened grow only longer.

One's end of being a student is always imposed; being a student is never completed, only abandoned.

For most, assumptions converge with the distorted memory of once-questioning, while infrequently remaining moments of transient inquiry operate in terms of their immediate function; being a student is asphyxiated in the routine integration of dispassionate knowledge with subsuming indifference otherwise, all of which generally account for mass life.


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