Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rancière, Kierkegaard, Heraclitus and Godard

“Knowledge is not intelligence.” Heraclitus

The separation and/or difference between teacher and student have been discussed by philosophers aplenty.

Rancière discusses intelligence equality, the distribution of the sensible, and social emancipation. He pursues an interrelation between art and the proletariat and effectively attracts the distinction between knowledge and intelligence while abolishing the hierarchy between teacher and student. For Rancière intelligence is equal for all. People can equally gain intelligence by defining and recognizing signs. Everyone has the same potential of gaining intelligence. The schoolmaster is ignorant if he believes inequality of intelligence to be inherent.
Kierkegaard makes a similar argument in describing the essence of the teacher as a learner. “To be a teacher does not mean simply to affirm that such a thing is so, or to deliver a lecture, etc. No, to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner.” The Point of View for My Work as an Author (1848).

In addition, Heraclitus wrote in 5th century BC “Let us therefore notice that understanding is common to all men.  Understanding is common to all, yet each man acts as if his intelligence were private and all his own.” This quote may be easily compared to Rancière’s 2009 quote “He does not teach his pupils his knowledge, but orders them to venture into the forest of things and signs, to say what they have seen and what they think of what they have seen, to verify it and have it verified.”

There seems to be a similar philosophy amongst Ancient Greece to 19th Century Denmark to Modern-day France, where intelligence is on an equal playing field and all are capable of accessing it.  Godard, however, challenges this idea. As a Maoist, Godard is in favor of the proletariat. However his art attracts the educated because his references are literary as well as philosophical and this can isolate the worker. A differentiation exists in the way these philosophers describe intelligence and Godard’s exclusivity. Intelligence may be equal, yet Godard’s oeuvre contests this philosophy.


1 comment:

  1. There is some confusion here over Ranciere's argument. You write, "The schoolmaster is ignorant if he believes inequality of intelligence to be inherent," but Ranciere affirms (rather than critiques) what he calls the ignorant schoolmaster. The ignorant schoolmaster is one who doesn't profess to know more than the pupil. He is thus the goal. But, at the same time, to profess equality doesn't mean that one (the schoolmaster) should feign ignorance. Godard reads poetry; he reads philosophy. And he shares these readings with his viewer. He wishes to re-integrate "art" into everyday life, everyday culture, and he believes this art can be experienced by one and all. This is the reverse of elitism.