A friend just passed me a book by Aldous Huxley, “The Human Situation” (actually a series of lectures he presented at UC Santa Barbara in 1959). Now I feel bad blogging about it since I’ve only read, ahem, 10 pages, but they’ve been great!
pon∙ti∙fex – latin for ‘bridge builder’
Now, I think originally the Romans used this in a religious context building a bridge between the material and the spiritual, but I think this word should come back into fashion.
Huxley used the term to show his dissatisfaction with highly specialized learning and its pitfalls for dealing with human problems (the more deep you go into one subject, the less able you are to understand another).
I couldn’t agree more.
It’s not just that I’m now a pondering PhD student (in the deep waters), but I think it’s a fundamental problem that holds us back from solving complex problems. In a University, when knowledge is in such close proximity, why am I so distant from the engineers, the teachers, the sociologists etc. when their knowledge combined with mine could really get somewhere in solving a big problem? Where are the ‘bridges’ between faculties? Between students with different knowledge and skill sets? We talk a lot about collaboration but it rarely happens in practice. Even the marketing student can feel distant from the accounting student.
So we need some bridges between:
ARTS and SCIENCES and BUSINESS and TECHNOLOGY and EDUCATION and…
Last year at my University here in Finland, I organized an event called JYU Talks to kind of pilot something in my head… my head is spinning with ideas (it’s now just a matter of building my own bridges to the talent that I need to get something lifted!)
More on pontifexing next post. Thanks Ben for the book – this word is just too cool for school;)
On a personal note, can’t believe it’s been 2 months. I went back home for a few weeks traveling around Canada, watched my sister drop the Porter name and become a Carey:), and now just prepping for what looks like a busy Fall. And yes, I’m still in Finland – at least for another year… but life questions abound…