The place of nonconceptual information in university education with special reference to teaching literature

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Abstract

This paper assumes that crucial mental activities involved in scientific discovery and literary reponse are nonconceptual. Some of the greatest scientific discoveries were made in states of extreme mental passivity induced in "the Bus, the Bath, or the Bed"(Köhler 1972: 163). Universities usually teach techniques and conceptual systems required for scientific research, but have no courses in achieving moments of extreme mental passivity, that is, taking a hot bath or dozing off on a rocking bus. I have adopted from the psychology of perception-and-personality the notion of "delayed closure" (here applied as "delayed categorization"). Delayed closure is an essential condition for adequate adjustment to reality in everyday life, as well as in scientific research and literary response. Some people display intolerance of delayed closure, whereas rapid closure may involve loss of important precategorial information. The problems of "teaching" delayed closure are explored in the context of teaching literature in a university setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-330
Number of pages22
JournalPragmatics and Cognition
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Keywords

  • Intolerance of ambiguity
  • Leveling-and-sharpening
  • Literary response
  • Logic of scientific discovery
  • Logic of the completed scientific report
  • Nonconceptual education
  • Precategorial information
  • Rapid and delayed closure
  • Sensuous information
  • Teaching literature

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