Saturday, 27 June 2015

What is a mainstream scholar

We are lucky in these days to have interactions online with scholars from around the world and through the centuries. I have had more interaction with these people than I ever did with professors in University. Anthony LeDonne has posted a question on what is a mainstream scholar and then looked in Wikipedia to find his answer. (Read his post. I am sure you will see that A LeD has a good sense of humour.)

His post suggested in me some rules of thumb that determine for me if I will take what I hear from a scholar at its face value. These are the first five rules that came out of my head
I am not sure I like adjectives anyway, but here's my take on what is a scholar, mainstream or otherwise. 
  1. Scholar asks questions, especially about S's own assumptions.
  2. S seeks clarity rather than seeking to be obscure.
  3. S admits changes of mind, aka mistakes maybe.
  4. S recognizes that S does not know everything.
  5. S does S's homework at least some of the time.
These 5 are off the top of my head - there maybe more rules of thumb (rots) where these came from.
My sources are: for
  1. Northrope Fry (The Great Code introduction),
  2. The principles of system design, press where there is lack of clarity - there's where the errors lie.
  3. The Bible, turn, return, etc (Psalm 80 or Lamentations Ierusalem, convertere ad Dominum Deum tuum)
  4. This one is hard - I don't want to recognize it or allow that I have a source for such knowledge.
  5. I have finally gotten this far at least once in my life. The lesson can only be learned, not taught.
And I have just thought of a sixth. A scholar does not perseverate, i.e., constantly repeat a thesis and sometimes just because no one is listening to the scholar's answers to big questions. I call to mind some Biblical translations that seek to prove a particular sectarian assumption. Perseveration is an understandable product of some kinds of brain damage and other insecurities. It is caused when feedback from normal communications cannot be perceived by the one who is perseverating. The loving person will listen even when it is very difficult.

Of course I have and have had my own axes to grind.

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