The Question


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Date submitted: 11/13/98

"I am not certain I understood Mr. Bohrer's assertion. Is he saying that academic teaching cannot be an aesthetic experience? Is he saying that one cannot teach or impart aesthetic experience through academic teaching?

If there is a conflict between academic teaching and aesthetic experience then teaching becomes not only a logical impossibility, but an altogether futile attempt in any academic institution.

Consciousness, or the quality of aesthetic experience, is learning in the philosophic sense. To learn and to live is to experience consciousness. If no aesthetic experience were rendered in academic teaching then teaching would become impossible philosophically. Teaching would then be reduced to the accumulation and dispensation of information without reference and regard for living experience. Philosophy then, would be subordinated to the ethos of scientific quantification and cold laboratories. This seems unlikely and unnecessary.

I have yet to teach in an academic institution, but it appears that the right kind of classroom or auditorium, made with appropriate materials in the right colours, a student body alive with interest, and a teacher with proper attire, could easily convey an atmosphere condusive to aesthetic experience provided, and this is the final element - not the sole element - that the teacher spoke deeply, intently and passionately about his subject. Student participation, of course, would enhance the quality of the teaching, and in turn the overall aesthetic experience.

Therefore, I don't see any necessary incompatibility between academic teaching and aesthetic experience, as I've understood the assertion.

Furthermore, if there is no incompatibility between corporate board meetings and aesthetic experience, there shouldn't be any in academic teaching either, and vice versa. A lunch meeting in a parking lot is not the same as a conference in a lush hall. If there was an actual incompatibility between aesthetic experience and academic teaching, one would have to argue either that the teacher prevented or barred the aesthetic experience by speaking (given the environment was aesthetically suitable); that though aesthetic experience was possible for the student, the teacher would not be able to experience things aesthetically himself; or lastly, that the teacher could experience things aesthetically but the students could not.

I look forward to comments or clarification."

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