Skip to main content Skip to search
The Contemplative Classroom, or Learning by Heart in the Age of Google
Buddhist-Christian Studies
Format: Journal Article
Publication Date: Nov 30, 2012
Pages: 3 - 11
Sources ID: 81851
Notes: ISSN 0882-0945; ISSN 1527-9472
Visibility: Public (group default)
Abstract: (Show)
In his provocative essay “Slow Knowledge,” David Orr outlines the countervailing assumptions of what he calls “the culture of fast knowledge.” Among these are the widely shared, though rarely examined, beliefs that “only that which can be measured is true knowledge; the more knowledge we have, the better; there are no significant distinctions between information and knowledge; and wisdom is an undefinable, hence unimportant category.”1 If all this were true, it would follow that computers are fast overtaking humans as the next intelligent species. Or, to put it differently, the two species have been colluding for some time to produce smarter machines and dumber people, as we humans abdicate more and more of our mental tasks. Moreover, when it comes time to weigh values—to ask not how quickly or efficiently some task can be done, but whether it ought to be done at all—we are strangely disinclined to challenge digital fatalism, which has become the default logic of late capitalism. Whenever a new digital option appears, we assume that if it can be done and someone somewhere is doing it, then it should be done and we ought to do it too. So even the local hardware store has to be on Facebook so customers can “like” it, and the AAR needs a Twitter account to send weekly tweets. We seldom pause to ask questions about means and ends, unintended consequences, or the sheer mindless clutter of our lives—let alone the implications of this or that new app for our descendants down to the seventh generation, or the enlightenment of all sentient beings. Surface obliterates depth; instant stimulation trumps mature reflection; short-term profit overrules the long-range good.