Lehrer: Merging Art and Science; The Ludic Self: Merging Wisdom Schools and Technology

11:41:00 PM

This post is from ongoing research notes for a paper under current development for a class at NYU entintled, "Self in a Ludic, Digital Culture."
In reading through Lehrer's Proust was a Neuroscientist, it strikes me how he has applied his training in neurobiology to classical literature. In the prelude to that work, it's clear that, for him, the concept was a novel one, stating, "I would often bring my copy of Swan's Way into the lab and read a few pages while waiting for an experiment to finish. All I expected from Proust was a little entertainment, or perhaps an education in the art of constructing sentences."

It would seem, his venture into classical literature was a newfound experience. To be sure, there was some prompting from his profession to begin an exploration into fiction, but that it would lead to a broad-sweeping, interdisciplinary conclusion that artists, in fact, had been privy to the secrets of science long before a modern laboratory had been build was a revelation for him. His book testifies to the awe and reverence such an epiphany can have.

Likewise, the "Ludic Self in a Digital Culture" will present a similar "revelation." That is, long before science came to be considered the definitive source for the metaphysical claim, "This is how we know that we know," - epistemological truth - the Buddhists of pre-literate civilizations had already done an exhaustive inquiry into the nature of self. It's doctrine is about "the self." There conclusion is stated succinctly as the concept of anatman or non-self, and scores of scripture document their proof that the self is an illusion.

Ludology, the study of play and a new academic discipline, likewise, is addressing the concept that the self is plastic in nature. There are, to be sure, social roles, personality/persona's (a concept dating back to ancient Greece), and a reason to believe that self does exist, but only within a sociological or ritualistic contexts. That is, the academic discipline is attacking or undermining the objective notion of self as a static, continuous entity.

Jean-Paul Sartre's famous discussion of the Parisian café waiter in his book, Being and Nothingness, alludes to the notion that the waiter's generalized sense of self is temporarily displaced by a person playing a waiter with all the mannerisms, rituals and customs that implies. He undermines self in the conflicting triumvirate of being - being in-itself, being for-itself and being for-others - in the irreconcilable notion of self that exists in a perpetual state of what he labels "bad faith." Post-modern, western philosophy has taken several whacks at the piñata of modern concept self as well.

Like Lehrer, who unites the findings artistry and empirical science together, perhaps in defining the Ludic Self in a Digital age, what will be required is to broaden the scope of the lens beyond just mere scientific, academic research, but also include both occidental and oriental philosophy and dogma in our inquiry as well.

Let's blend wisdom and technology. Let's unite our belief systems with social systems . Let's play.

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