Link to What's New This Week. Issue for Week of February 12, 2006

Dear Habermas Logo and Link to Site Index A Justice Site

Dear Habermas

Academic Resources OnSite - Daily Site Additions
Lectures - Lecture Notes - Texts - Discussions - Self Tests
Visual Sociology - Internet Speak - Graduate Exam Study
POST TO: Tutoring - Learning Records - Transform-dom
SEARCH: Topics Index - Site Index - Issue Archives
Google Web Search - Google Site Search

Current Issue: Volume 26, No. 4 , Week of February 12, 2006

You Mean I Have To Think for Myself?

jeanne's first version of think for yourself

NEWS and Announcements Site Map
News and Announcements from the Department of Criminal Justice, UWP
News and Announcements from the Department of Sociology, CSUDH


California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 9, 2006
Latest Update: February 10, 2006

E-Mail Icon

Topic of the Week:

Humility of Knowledge
Yep! You're Gonna Have to Think For Yourself

I know, I know, we fuss when you think for yourself. Dominant discourse, folks. Stand up for your rights, and don't let us get away with it.

You can only know the world through your own experiences and senses. I can only know the world through mine. So we have to share what we think and know, to get some sense of what we can all sort of agree on, and then rely on one another to be predictable. On Wednesday I lectured on Learning How to Differentiate Between Illocutionary, Instrumental, and Governance Discourse.

Illocutionary discourse is about listening to the Other to see if you and the Other share values and beliefs, so that you can trust that you want to share the Other's knowledge. You have to do that whether the Other is a newspaper, your mother, an expert who claims to "know," a textbook, the TV ads, the TV programs, art, music, whatever. When you accept what the Other tells you, you are making the unstated assumption that you and the Other are alike enough that you accept and trust the Other's perspective, as well as your own. You can trust or support the Other, and still reserve the right to decide if you agree with the Other on every single issue.

You may vote for Bush, yet not support his agenda on eliminating safety nets. You might support him because you agree with him on the fear he says we should have of terrorist attacks. But if you agree with him on tax breaks to the wealthy, which deplete our budgetary resources AND result in no money to support our safety nets, then you are inadvertently supporting his agenda on eliminating safety nets. This is what Lakoff is calling the need to sort out the real issue that often goes unchallenged because we don't see how tax breaks to the wealthy relate to eliminating safety nets. What Lakoff is really saying is that we gotta think for ourselves on these issues if we don't want to be complicit.

It's on that basis that I say that we are complicit in President Bush's actions to weaken and delete our safety net programs unless we use our answerability to stand against such weakening and deletion. If we do nothing, either in actions or in thoughts, except passively accept his agenda, then we have passively agreed with it, and are, in part, responsible for it. That is an existential view of accountability and responsibility, based on Bakhtin's insistence that we each have a voice, though we may be so oppressed or constrained that we cannot use that voice effectively in governance decisions that concern us. If that is the case, we still have the feelings that the gift of answerability assures us. With struggle, those feelings eventually emerge as voice that may one day gain the power to make itself heard. That is why Bakhtin says that the question he must always ask himself before he speaks is "What will the Other answer?" (answerability.)

Answerability doesn't mean that we are held to answer. It means that we possess, each of us, the gift of voice through which we respond in some way to everything that happens to us. Maybe it's just terror, maybe we cringe. Some of us can express that response articulately, with great skill. Some of us have been taught silence, without which we would be harmed. But all of us, even those who are silent, do respond. And when we are finally held accountable for what others have done in our name (our parents, our nation-state, our family, our school, whatever), we are complicit, if we accept in silence when we had the power and skill to stand up for what we really believed in. No one stands up to oppression all the time. I'm not suggesting that one must. But for me, it is essential that we develop an awareness of the power of answerability and that we stand up when we are able to. If the Other says "You took away my food stamps, and now I am hungry," and I voted for the tax breaks for the wealthy, or for legislators who voted for those tax breaks, then I can't answer the Other, "Oh, no. I didn't. That was just the federal government that did that. I didn't have a choice." Yes, I did. That is the sense in which we must hold one another accountable. Not for blaming and retribution, but for collaboration and government discourse in making better decisions and in realizing the costs that our decisions exact from Others.

Since accepting in silence without questioning makes us complicit in governance decisions, you need to think for yourself. Are you willing to be held responsible when the Other who was harmed holds us accountable. That is the question to which your beliefs and values must answer. This is based on the premise that morality and ethics are viable concerns that we all share. If one believes that one's government is not morally accountable for harming Others, then one may not feel the need to think such issues through for oneself. But if Others who are powerful hold one responsible, then one may have to defend one's position of one's governance decision-makers not being accountable for morality. Governance decisions are decisions we take collectively. My personal take on that is that since we are each accountable for morality and ethics, we must be accountable for the decisions we take collectively through our representatives in representative democracy. This goes back to the trials at Nuremberg after the Second World War, when so many said "I was just following orders." (Dialog on Reposnibility; Silence and Complicity:Violence Against Women in Peruvian Public Health Facilities Available free for access on as PDF files. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader.

There's another problem here: affect. Once you've searched and thought, and come to some conclusion, you've expended a lot of energy. To justify all that work, you've got to believe it was worth it. Then someone comes along and disagrees with you. Affect jumps up and you and Other shout rhetoric at one another. Of course, you do. And if you had fun learning and coming to your conclusion, the more attached you will be to that conclusion. So you defend your conclusion passionately. Cognitive dissonance theory predicts it, and it happens regularly. Interestingly enough, the more fun you had, the less intensive and anxiety-producing the learning was, the more passionately you will defend your conclusion.

Because we were beginning to discuss the death penalty on transform_dom in our ignorance, I felt it was essential to get information to you as quickly as possible. One of the requirements for illocutionary discourse is enough humility to know where the bounds are between what you know and what you don't. The age is long past in which any of us can "know" all things, sometimes even in our own fields. We live in an age of information explosion. So before you become passionate, check out Death Penalty Index.

NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Events Discussion Topics:

  • Joining Discussion and Learning Records Groups on Yahoo:

  • Grade Corrections, Fall 2005:

    We processed lots of grades, removing the Incompletes on Wednesday. It'll take them a few days to go through the channels and get posted. I haven't picked up the new messages on learning records yet. Will try to get to these tomorrow.

    These incompletes were the resulto of my inability to pick up your messages from transform_dom when we hit almost 10,000 messages. I need you to post them on learning records jeanne January 25, 2006.

    Note that jeanne's e-mail is not functioning properly. That's Reach me at tranform_dom until I can get it fixed.

  • Grade Corrections, Fall 2005:

    We processed lots of grades, removing the Incompletes on Wednesday. It'll take them a few days to go through the channels and get posted. I haven't picked up the new messages on learning records yet. Will try to get to these tomorrow.

    These incompletes came about because I couldn't find your posts when we hit almost 10,000 posts. I need you to post the numbers of your posts or just submit another copy of them to learning records, so that I can post them on the site for your future access. This was a computer glitch that occurred when we had to use Yahoo for our listserv. Please don't give me a printed version. I can't possibly retype those. From learning records, I can cut and paste them to our learning records. jeanne January 25, 2006.

  • Learning Records, Fall 2005:

  • New Office

    Our office is across the hall from where we used to be, SBS -B325. They moved us out of SBS B326 during the last week of classes, while I was having a reaction to the radiation therapy. All our stuff got moved across the hall, but it's in no condition for immediate use. We hope to get moved in by late January. jeanne

  • Syllabi for Spring 2006

    Syllabus for Sociology 395_01: No Child Left Behind Undergraduate Section. In Room SAC 3162, in the Old High School Buildings parallel to the Gym buildings.

    Please use the undergraduate syllabus until I can get the Graduate syllabus up. Quite enough there for you to start with. Friday, February 3, 2006. jeanne

  • Sites You Might Want to Check Out: Quackwatch, a website maintained by Stephen Barrett, M.D.

    "Quackwatch, Inc. . . . is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies. Its primary focus is on quackery-related information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere. Founded by Dr. Stephen Barrett in 1969 as the Lehigh Valley Committee Against Health Fraud, it was incorporated in 1970. In 1997, it assumed its current name and began developing a worldwide network of volunteers and expert advisors. . . . "

  • Call for Papers
    Casazine - Online Magazine for members of Casa. "CASA offers a platform for people to discuss and combine efforts and information working towards social transformation. For more information on CASA 2005 Borders, Markets, Movements and to find out about the summer meeting CASA 2006: Constructing Social Change go to" Jeanne joined this group a couple of years ago, though she couldn't make their summer meeting. I think our goals fit. Some of you should consider following this. I think their summer meeting this year might be in Montreal. Check out the site. Contribute a paper to CASAZINE.

  • Conference in June 2006

    Please check out the proposal I submitted on Christmas Eve. If you want to go, we need to start thinking about money NOW!

  • The Ecstasy Exhibit at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art through February 20. Just a few weeks left. jeanne
    "Ecstasy" is the trippy, messy, highly entertaining survey put together by Paul Schimmel of the Museum of Contemporary Art here. It sprawls through the Geffen Contemporary, the museum's cavernous warehouse in Little Tokyo, which too often begs for attention but is now jammed with blissed-out mobs.

    Visual Sociology

      jeanne's imaginary of The Culture of Denial: Villon, 15th Century, Courbet, 19th Century

      The Culture of Denial: Villon, 15th Century, Courbet, 19th Century
      The Ballad of the Hanged - Ballade des Pendus
      by François Villon (1431 - 14-?)
      Around the time of Jeanne d"Arc

    • In the computer image above I was trying to capture the the culture of modernism, and perhaps of postmodernism as well, that came to accept images of horror, like the dead rabbits, deer, chickens, etc. or the skulls, that were often a part of still life scenes along side a bowl of fruit. I borrowed the bowl of fruit from Courbet, but it hardly looks like his, as the links will show you. Then I called it the Culture of Denial.

      I think what I had in mind about five years ago, when I did that image, was the crazy juxtaposition (postmodernity) that we came face to face with as we realized that the enlightenment wasn't all we had thought it would be. I think I meant, or at least I can reinterpret today the cognitive dissonance of old ideas of gross cruelty nestled contentedly next to ideas of peace and respect for mother earth.

      This interpretation, along with a card featuring the computer image, would be an excellent favor to offer a stranger with whom you would like to talk about this strange juxtaposition of violence and peace.

      And then there are the beautiful lines,

      Frères humains qui après nous vivez, n'ayez les coeurs contre nous endurcis . . .
      (frair u men' ki apray noo' vi vay, nay yay lay ker' cone tra noo' on dure see . . . ) transliteration - the French sounded out roughly

      Human Bros who live long after we have gone,
      let not your hearts be hardened against us . . .

    Lectures, Notes, and Texts

    Academic Resources

  • SquiggleResource Literacy

    • Urban Legends Reference Pages. They post rumors and scams and phony e-mails circulating, to offer you a quick check. It worked for me. I entered "Fat Boy" as a google seacrch, and when I saw the link, I knew it would help, and it did. To not check your sources is as grievous as to plagiarize someone else's information and writing. A Page from Urban Legends As an Example.

    • Good quick reference site with many of the artists, art schools, and visual approaches to present social issue that we discuss. Added April 8, 2005.

    • Plagiarism Watch site. The intelligent and effective use of resources means that you have to be careful not to plagiarize other people's material. We have several files on plagiarism, but I think the one that might make the most sense to you is this complaint on They give you samples of sites that have taken their material without citation, even at colleges, and they also give you examples of sites that have used their material with proper attribution. I find the irony poetic, and hope that their message will get through to you the importance of attribution. Dr. O'Connor on his Mega Criminal Justice site led me to and noted that others frequently hack into the site. For that reason I have created a backup copy for your use in case you cannot access the actual site. Please be sure to attribute any citation to jeanne Backup.

      You might want to consider also the information on Dr.Woo Suk Hwang of South Korea:

      "Therapeutic Cloning Was a Fraud"
      By Hsien Hsien Lei, PhD | Related entries in Genetic Engineering

      One of the year’s biggest stories in bioscience appears to have been make-believe. In May, scientists in South Korea announced they’d been able to clone eleven embryonic stem cell lines containing the DNA of patients who suffered from diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. The hope was that the cloned stem cells could be used therapeutically via transplantation without fear of rejection.

      Now Dr. Woo Suk Hwang has admitted to fabricating the results. Nine of the 11 colonies of stem cells featured in the study published in the journal Science apparently don’t exist and the other two may not have been real either. The researchers involved have asked Science to retract their paper." From, consulted on December 26, 2005.

    Using Academic Language Effectively

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

    and Careers

    • Resumes:

    • Letters of Recommendation:

      • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
      • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

    • Career Options You Might Not Have Considered

      • visual media and their interdependence with other means of knowing to understand that we are not totally rational creatures deciding things apart from our feelings and values. Wolfowitz (new President of the World Bank to aid developing countries AND principle advocate of the Iraq War) might feel very differently when he is exposed to visual and aural images of the poor developing countries that have not before been his primary concern. So we want to know how best to present those developing countries visually. And we might find that we can have a career doing that sort of thing, so it does reflect on us as individuals. Added April 2, 2005.

    That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

    Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've ever come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs, oh, and Faupel's Flying Fish.:

    • Icons and acronyms and what they mean in Internet Speak

    • Index of Nice Things We've Said to Each Other

      • I Was Scared of Statistics

      • It Feels Good to Make a Difference

      • The Site Goes On - You're Always Welcome Back
        • From Angelique Hawley on December 16, 2005: Message No. 9072 on transform_dom.
          Merry Christmas! Jeannne and Pat and all the marvelous students at CSUDH that has shared in "Naked Space"

          I wish I had a lot of money so that I could reward all of you properly. Transform_domDigest is so wonderful.

          I can recall when being one of the first users in 2004 and I see we are at digest 594. my how time flies when we are learning and having fun.

          Jeanne you and Pat are the bomb!

          I continue to read the digest although I am not taking any of your classes now. The digests have been more informative than the school paper. Please continue to keep it going.

          Get rest ! I hope to see you .

    • Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in this or any other class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.