A&O Class Notes for April 16, 2019



APRIL 16, 2009


Today’s check-in:

  • Weekly Wonder
  • What stood out from YOUR experience of presenting
  • What stood out from the presentations of others … the entire experience at our “symposium”


We have only two more meetings:  April 16 & April 23.  The 16th we’ll meet here as usual, the 23rd we can’ty meet BUT I’d like to host you at my place on wed 24th, Thurs 25th, or Fri 26th  (driving instructions handed out in class)

  • Last week, April 9, I checked in with MY METAPHOR for this class (used the day before as part of a presentation to the Teaching Learning Center’s Conference)


  • MY METAPHOR was “Abstract Art”  (all about selective emphasis on your view of what’s most relevant) –but I was only one of the members of the research team making the presentation,  here are the metaphors used by the entire team:
    • Greenberg: ABSTRACT ART
    • Smith: MISSIONARY
    • Brenda: HEALING
    • Brian: BALANCING ACT


And then members of the audience—like you—contributed their personal metaphors.  YOURS are

    • Nick: A PARK
    • Kelsea: MAGIC
    • Lauren: TREE TRUNK
    • Jessica: SPIDER WEB
    • April: PETRI DISH
    • Solly: DIAMOND (synthesis & distillation)

Metaphors in past years

    • Rabbit Hole
    • Hall of Mirrors
    • can of worms


This was a stealthy exercise because it brings together individual, authentic feelings and ideas with large scale generalities AND THEN by MIND-MAPPING your metaphor, you discover unsuspected connections.  


Connecting metaphors–seeing where their mind-maps touch–enables us to put the aggregate of OUR PERSONAL meanings and connections (cognition—memories, concepts, & processes) into the service of the other, enlarging both.  Connections (although sometimes indirect or circuitous) are discovered (or invented?)


[What would happen if we regarded ART as a METAPHOR for SCIENCE?]

Click here to read what Maria Popova calls The World’s Most Lyrical Footnote: Physicist Richard Feynman on the Life-Expanding Common Ground Between the Scientific and the Poetic Worldviews


Remember pleiotropic genes and polygenic traits?  how great simplicity can cascade into incomprehensible complexity?  METAPHORS are pleiotropic—like genes that have widely distributed effects, not the simple one-to-one gene influence on a specific trait that dominates thinking in evolutionary terms—hence many collateral or ancillary but unnoticed effects—spandrels, side-effects (sensu Gould & Lewontin 1979; Gould 1997)—that may have been useful at some time in the past (the “environment of evolutionary adaptedness”—EEA) and also can be the raw material of future adaptive change. (Spandrels are architecturally enforced byproducts of primary changes. But spandrels may then be subsequently coopted for highly fruitful use—leading to the result that Gould and Vrba (1982) called exaptation.)


The butterfly cascade (idea explored with Solly) shows how delicate and unexpected connections can be.   (“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state [the butterfly flapping its wings in China] can, in  a deterministic nonlinear system result in large differences in a later state [a tornado in Kansas]”)


Solly found an interesting twist on Goethe’s “you only understand that which you first love.”  In the Science Fiction novel  “Ender’s Game.” Orson Scott Card wrote, “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him.”


Loose ends:



We have only two more meetings

  • April 16 & April 23.  The 16th we’ll meet here as usual,
  • the LAST WEEK : APRIL 23 is NOT available for an off-campus meeting SO I’d like to host you at my place for a last class meeting on Wed 24th or Thurs 25th or Fri 26th  or Sat 27th  or Mon 29th (driving instructions handed out in class) 

Spring Recess: Friday April 19

Classes End Friday April 26

Study Day  Monday  April 29

Exams  Tuesday – Tuesday,  April 30, May 1, 2, 3, 6, 7   [May 4-5-6 in Atlanta for Strauss ceremony]

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