Confinement, Education and the Control Society

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Foucault, the “panopticon guy”, is characterized as a thinker of power, discipline, and punishment. But as Deleuze (1995) points out, Foucault also believed that we are increasingly moving away from being societies based on discipline to societies based on control. According to Deleuze’s reading of Foucault: “We’re moving toward control […]

Video Games, Authority, and Problem-based Thinking

[UPDATE: Raph Koster has replied to this post over at his blog, and Gus offers some interesting thoughts as well.] The September 2006 issue of Harper’s Magazine (contents not online, unfortunately) has a piece titled Grand Theft Education: Literacy in the Age of Video Games. It is a conversation between Jane Avrich (author and English […]

Virtual Freedom and Tolerance: The Perils of Uniform Diversity

Britain’s Mass Observation project consisted of hundreds of people keeping journals of their daily lives in order to generate a sociological snapshot of British society in the 1930s. Today, researchers are probably already undertaking similar studies of our societies by looking at blogs.

Anyone engaged in such research would probably find that our societies are not lacking in diversity. Every ethnicity, ideology, religion and fetish known to humankind is probably represented in cyberspace. But does this diversity translate into more tolerance? Given the general state of affairs in the world, the answer would seem to be resoundingly negative. … more

Technology and Blindness to Suffering

Surely there is no more blatant sign of dehumanization than the inability to react to suffering. And yet, underscoring technological progress throughout the ages is the drive to obliterate the experience of suffering. We want to be immune to the suffering of others, and we want to be immune to our own suffering.

Pierre Flourens, a French physician living in the times of Victor Hugo, wrote the following about the effects of anaesthetics: