Monday, March 07, 2005

Jean-Jacques, not Jean-Luc

Jean-Jacques, not Jean-Luc


Er, no. I am sorry that you are unable to work with me on the idea that the best way to read historical documents is to read them in the context of their times. Really, I am. It makes my life hell, too. And I do understand that you are trying to bring meaning to the documents by looking for comfortable analogies. But please, trust me on this. When Rousseau talks about alienating one's rights for the common good, it is not analogous to the offer the Borg make to those who stand in their way. Yes, I understand that they are offering more technology, knowledge, etc., if one gives up one's rights. But they are a hive. They are not giving more freedom. They are asking (and really, not asking, because I don't remember Picard having much choice in becoming Locutus) civilizations to joing the Hive and give up all their freedom and individuality for a nebulous "something greater." Rousseau never suggests people make that kind of sacrifice. So please, trust me on this one. Not a good analogy.

Oh, and class? When I pointed out that you can't understand history if you don't understand the words? Really, I meant that, too. So when Rousseau is talking about civil religion, he doesn't mean "pleasant" or "polite." Really, I am even happier than you are that this is the last week of class. And I don't think I've ever felt that way before.

4 comments:

Ancarett said...

Hah! Locutus of Geneva!

Yes, you're right -- it's great when students try to make analogies and links. But what do you do when they're totally off base?

/headdesk not being an option, that is!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Dang! That's what I should have called the post. In this case, since I really understood the non-analog, I could explain -- although it was clear that the student neither understood STTNG nor Rousseau. And the rest of the students had no idea, but with this particular student, you have to go there, because she is just going to keep going back until you shut her down.

Rebecca said...

Hee hee, ADM. I love those moments when someone comes up with something so...wrong, that you just absolutely have to stop the conversation then and there before anyone else gets confused. Something similar happened to me when I taught Western Civ...we were talking about the secular clergy, and one young woman offered up a definition...clergy who weren't part of the Christian religion. Eh?

As for the Borg, I always thought they represented Marx, reducto ad absurdam. But, I could be wrong!

bitchphd said...

Arg. And especially when they're doing it in the last week of the quarter. Early on, ok, but at this point there really isn't much excuse....