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There are many ways of knowing. Really?

You know, the debate on postmodernism (po-mo) on another thread got me to thinking. It also reminded me of the one and only occasion when I was in uni. and I attended a lecture on po-mo ism. It was not a very memorable lecture, but two things stood out for me. There were two, not one, lecturers in the room. (It is as though they needed two people in order to carry the bullsh:t that was about to be delivered.) And we spent the entire lecture talking about a can of coke (really, I'm not making this up!).

Anyway, mid-way through the lecture a horrible feeling began do dawn upon me when I realized that all we were going to discuss was the coke can. The two lecturers were on good po-mo form and proceeded rather predictably (though impenetrably, to me) to talk about this discourse and that plateau or up yonder paradigm versus this here inter-textuaLITY of the drinks can.

As the double act rambled on and on, I began to think more about the coke can. I then realized that,you know what, we could be having a perfectly intelligent and intelligible discussion about these cans. I mean, imagine that I was an design student. It is entirely plausible that we could be in a deep and meaningful debate about design in the 20th C. Or, indeed, if I was a law student. In this case we could have a ding dong about the intellectual properties of the can (patents and what not that some designer or inventor had applied for for the can). Imagine, if you can, that we were engineering students, materials science majors, geology nerds or, even, physicists or mathematicians; any of these subjects would have tonnes of interesting and illuminating things to say about that can of coke sitting on the table between po and mo. Instead, alas, I was ensconced between art majors and English majors and cultural theory majors all of who were intent on mindwanking (TM) over a can of bloody coke (I stopped drinking the stuff after that lecture).

My main point is this. Are there so many ways of knowing? Are the literary criticism lecturers equally knowledgeable about that can of coke in the way that, say, an engineer is? Are their opinions about it equally valid? Or, as I suspect, is one side talking sense and the other balls?

What about other ways of knowing? We often hear the religious talk about knowing god, or the mystics talking about knowing...whatever. How many kinds of knowing are there? Has anyone ever counted? Is it even possible to do such a thing? The people need to know!



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