SCHOLAR ISLAND*

Copyright 2007  Arthur Allan Armstrong

         This project is for the autodidact, the polymath, the scholar gypsy, researcher, writer. reader and the Cultural Omnivore. It is in the original sense a University*-meaning an educational establishment concerned with exploring the whole of creation, encompassing spiritual as well as material values and systems. It is a cyber-galaxy dedicated to  collecting, indexing, summarizing, storing and sharing of knowledge. It is a portal into the world of Culture..  A work-room of the world-mind.

       Arthur Allan Armstrong

Emeritus Chancellors: Thomas Jefferson, Will Rogers, John Comenius, Leo Tolstoy

 

 

 Part of the Ongoing Conversation of the Planet Earth.....

 

 

Dedicated to "John Comenius"..."Teacher of Nations---.."Comenius' name may not be familiar to most English-speaking readers, but in central Europe he's a national hero. His birthday is a national holiday. In Hungary, a teachers' college and an adult education program are named after him. Rembrandt painted his portrait. Although a symbol of Czech nationalism, Comenius is an international figure as well, as is appropriate for a Rosicrucian thinker. he was asked to be the first president of Harvard University, and UNESCO offers a Comenius Medal for outstanding achievements in education. With this in mind, his epithet of "teacher of nations" is apt...."

-Gary Lachman

Politics and the Occult

 

 

                     "...A scholar is the favorite of Heaven and earth, the Excellency of his country, the happiest of men."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

"Scholar Island*"Started as a Commonplace book and has grown into a  'template' of  an idea originally suggested by H.G. Wells in 1938, when he recognized the need for a 'world brain' encyclopedia, that would 'bring together in close juxtaposition and under critical scrutiny many apparently conflicting systems of statement, as a sort of clearing house of misunderstandings.' A Command over the inherited knowledge of all the ages., a Cyber-Xanadu-the magic place of literary memory.........a celebration of human intelligence, creativity, and the ongoing Great Conversation.

Arthur Allan Armstrong   Mind Cartographer

 

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*"Compared with the medieval university, the contemporary university has developed the mere seed of professional instruction into an enormous activity; it has added the functions of research; and it has abandoned almost entirely the teaching or transmission of culture."

-Jose Ortega Y Gasset

 

 

 OUR PRINCIPLES: The principles of this Chrestomathy are 'Amplitude' &'Copia.* "Amplitude" connotes the desire to see a given topic from every possible perspective; it also connotes curiosity about and compassion for the minds of other people and other ages. The genre is Aphoristic.**

  * "The rhetorical term "copia" ("abundance," "plenty:) was employed by Roman writers (Cicero, Quintilian) to describe a special virtue of great literature: its enthralling, overwhelming richness in terms of detail, variation and figures of speech."

(taken from ON DIALOGUE by Robert Grudin)

* *See explanation of "Aphoristic" genre. Aphoristic expression itself implies an entire philosophy and worldview. (Scroll to bottom for more on the 'Aphoristic worldview)

 

 

 

Our Subject:

"Culture is the sum of all art forms of art, of love and thought, which, in the course of centuries, have enabled humanity to be less enslaved." 

-Andre Malraux

 

 

"A well cultivated mind is made up of all the minds of preceding ages....it is only the one single mind educated by all previous time."         

           -Fontanelle

 

 

"I became more and more astonished by the ignorance, and especially by the cultural, moral  ignorance of our society....All our education should be directed to the accumulation of the cultural heritage of our ancestors,

The Best Thinkers of the World."

Leo Tolstoy

 

 

OUR METHOD----"Commonplacing"........."Little minds are interested in the extraordinary; great minds in the commonplace."

Elbert Hubbard

                                    

  "The World faces a revolutionary Transformation. We must all learn to communicate with one another on every topic. The true division is between the self-satisfied specialist in every field and those restless minds in all realms of inquiry who seek a deeper meaning of their discoverers in a more comprehensive frame of reference."

       - Andrei Sakharov

                                    

The Comprehensive

"Human knowledge extends on all sides farther than the eye can reach; and of that which would be generally worth knowing, no one man can possess even the thousandth part.

   All branches of learning have thus been so much enlarged that he who would "do something" has to pursue no more than one subject and disregard all others. In his own subject he will then, it is true, be superior to the vulgar; but in all else he will belong to it. If we add to this that neglect of the ancient languages, which is now-a-days on the increase, and is doing away with all general education in the humanities-for a mere smattering of Latin and Greek is of no use-we shall come to have men of learning who outside their own subject display an ignorance truly bovine.

   An exclusive specialist of this kind stands on a par with a workman in a factory, whose whole life is spent in making one particular kind of screw, or catch, or handle, for some particular instrument or machine, in which, indeed, he attains incredible dexterity. The specialist  may also be likened to a man who lives in his own house and never leaves it. There he is perfectly with everything, every little step, corner, or board; much as Quasimodo in Victor Hugo's Notre Dame knows the cathedral; but outside it, all is strange and unknown.

   For true culture in the humanities it is absolutely necessary that a man should be many-sided and take large views; and for a man of learning in the higher sense of the word, an extensive acquaintance with history is needful. He, however , who wishes to be a complete philosopher, must gather into  his head the remotest ends of human knowledge; for where else could they come together?

   It is precisely minds of the first order that will never be specialists. For their very nature is to make the whole of existence their problem; and this is a subject upon which they will every one of them in some form provide mankind with a new revelation. For he alone can deserve the name of genius who takes the All, the Essential, the Universal, for the theme of his achievements.......   

Arthur  Schopenhauer

 

 

The Specialist education

 

  " I sat with a classmate from Harvard Divinity School who is now a theology professor. When I asked her what she was teaching, she unleashed a torrent of arcane academic jargon. I had no idea, even with three years of seminary, what she was talking about. You can see this retreat into specialized discipline across the country. The more these universities churn out these stunted men and women, the more we are flooded with a peculiar breed of specialist who uses obscure code words as a way to avoid communication. This specialist blindly services tiny parts of corporate power structure he or she has never been taught to question. Specialists look down on the rest of us, who do not understand what they are talking and writing about, with thinly veiled contempt.

   By any standard comprehensible within the tradition of Western civilization, as John Ralston Saul points out, these people are illiterate. They cannot recognize the vital relationship between power and morality. They have forgotten, or never knew, that moral traditions are the product of civilization. They have little or no knowledge of their own civilization and do not know, therefore, how to maintain it. "One of the signs of a dying civilization." Saul writes, "is that its language breaks down into exclusive dialects which prevent communication. A growing, healthy civilization uses language as a daily tool to keep the machinery of society moving. The role of responsible, literate elites is to aid and abet that communication."

Chris Hedges

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the triumph of Spectacle

 

 

 

"Specialization is a social ignorance arrangement. The stereotypical explanation for specialization is that it arises when there is too much for any one person to learn everything. but viewed from an adaptational standpoint, specialization is an example of spreading risk in three respects. First, the risks of direct learning (versus vicarious learning, which is less risky) are spread across the population by diversifying learning. Second, the risk of being ignorant about crucial matters is spread by diversifying, ignorance. third, the risks associated with bearing knowledge also are diversified. As with any kind of risk spreading, specialization requires various forms of social cooperation to yield these benefits. "

-Michael J. Smithson

"Social theories of Ignorance" 

Agnotology: The making & Unmaking of Ignorance

 

 

The Method---Twilight Twitter!

        **   "Only one possible literary genre can accommodate what seem to be alternative, though to the ancients not incompatible, worldviews: the "collection" of randomly arranged, self-contained aphorisms. In this form, the wisdom of more than one age and more than one temper can be stored side by side. It is not merely the literary form of the collection, however, that allows for this ecumenical generosity. Aphoristic expression itself implies an entire philosophy and worldview. According to this philosophy, experience and thought about experience can be stored best in independent short sayings and poems. The aphoristic worldview also implies that no systematic exposition is intended, for any systematic arrangement or exposition would endanger the independence and originality of an insight stored in a small literary unit. The masters of wisdom have no interest in or conception of completeness or logical presentation of their insights and indeed avoid it. Perhaps one can explain the underlying idea in terms of the distinction  between "systematic" and "aphoristic" thought. Systematic thought tends to doctrinalism and the development of comprehensive, complete, and finally closed ideologies. Aphoristic thought, by contrast, remains open-ended and fragmentary. One can always add to the corpus of aphoristic expression, for it can never be complete. Thus aphoristic thinking is more a style of thought than a particular doctrine. As the anthropologist Clifford Geertz explains, "It comes in epigrams, proverbs , obiter dicta, jokes, anecdotes, contes moraux-a clatter of gnomic utterances-not in formal doctrines axiomized theories, or archetonic dogmas.' "

Bernhard Lang

The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity

 

A Collectanea                   A collection of passages

An Anthology                     A gathering of various authors

A'na                                  A collection of information relative to a subject of curious interest

Studio generalia                Resort of scholars

Symposium                       A collection of articles on a single topic by various authors

                                                                                                  

 

2011

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