Friday, September 28, 2007
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
A week or so ago, I referred to an essay by the Israeli philosopher, Joseph Agassi. As I sit here (procrastinating) with a stack of nine books (not articles) I want to read, not including Charles Taylor's A Secular Age, which just came out and is almost 900 pages, but which I have yet to order, I take some heart from Professor Agassi's advice in his essay, Scientific Literacy, on the art of browsing, which I recommend browsing. Except when you are browsing, don't skip the introductory paragraph from this student of Karl Popper:
The central end of all my research activities was the effort to break down the walls of the academy. The wall is defended by the idea that not only do experts possess knowledge beyond the ken of lay people, which is trivially true, but that there is an unbridgeable gulf between the two. The aim of this presentation, then, is to discuss the possibility of building a bridge between the ordinary educated citizen and the expert.
This is apropos to legal academia, in particular, for three reasons: (1) the issue of walls and the breaking (or construction) thereof implicit in "law and..." disciplines; (2) the particular position of legal academia between scholarship (the expert?) and professional training (the ordinary educated citizen?), and (3) the fact that most of us, experts and ordinary educated citizens alike, are in fact simple ordinary educated citizens with respect to MOST of what we know, as almost any Tuesday or Thursday law school faculty lunch presentation will demonstrate.