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This article is taken from PN Review 94, Volume 20 Number 2, November - December 1993.

Realism and the Defence of Consciousness:on the work of Raymond Tallis Michael Grant

There is a contemporary orthodoxy to the effect that the development of computers must inevitably change the nature of knowledge. Jean-François Lyotard has argued (in The Post-Modern Condition) that only that which can be translated into the language or logic of computers will be accepted as knowledge.

We can predict that anything in the constituted body of knowledge that is not translatable in this way will be abandoned and that the direction of new research will be dictated by the possibility of its eventual results being translatable into computer language.

One result of this will be a significant alteration in the way in which we conceive of subjectivity. Jacques Lacan has written:

We are very well aware that this machine [a computer] doesn't think. We made the machine, and it thinks what it has been told to think. But if the machine doesn't think, it is obvious that we don't think either when we are performing an operation. We follow the same procedures as the machine.

Lyotard predicts for education 'a thorough exteriorization of knowledge with respect to the "knower", at whatever point he or she may occupy in the knowledge process. The old principle that the acquisition of knowledge is indissociable from the training (Bildung) of minds, or even of individuals, is becoming obsolete and will become ever more so.' The lived-through, inner experience of making knowledge one's own, formerly inseparable from an enduring possession of thought and culture, is ...

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