Life Studies Blog (Old)

November 30, 2004

A new member (posted by Morioka)

I have invited a new team member, icono-clast. She is a graphics designer living in Ankara, Turkey. She has posted comments to my previous posts. Welcome, icono-clast!

Recently I have been concentrated on modifying the design of the website, International Network for Life Studies. I think I will show you a new version soon.

Photo: A cafe near my apartment (8)

* We moved to the new blog. Please visit:


  • As I mentioned in my profile, I am interested in philosophy and ecology and this is what brought me to this blog. I am now attending a course on Human Ecology as a guest student in the Sociology department of METU (Middle East Technical University). It is a subject I am really interested in and Dr. Rittersberger has made a good reading list, including almost all important writers on the subject. While attending the classes I realized how boring it is to be an undergraduate student – not a guest student like myself but an official one. Human ecology is an elective course and except two people in the class everybody is only looking forward to fulfill the extra credit they need by taking this course. They are not really interested so much in Human Ecology. Most of them never participate in the discussions, that is why only we three guests’ voices are often heard in the class. I can understand these students, they are so alienated because of the educational system in our country. In Turkey, an undergraduate degree means the basic qualification to apply for a “decent” job. That is why most people are determined to get a diploma just for the sake of getting a good job. In this system you have to get the diploma in some way or the other, preferably in the easiest way. You do what you are required to do by your instructor and you are not expected to be creative or even so much participative. Just get good marks from the exams and assignments, and at the end of 4 years, get your degree and go away. Only the ends are important. This is the summary of a whole life style in fact: You are always concentrated on the ends and what you are required to do to reach these ends. You do not have freedom to decide about the requirements, they are pre-determined by some “authorities”. Alienation in such a system is not something surprising. In the book “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” (the strange titled book by R. Pirsig I read last summer) a similar situation is described. Phaedrus, the hero of the book was an English teacher in a college, who was obsessed with the notion of “quality”. He argued that forcing the students to study by means of giving them marks, stands in the way of reaching “quality”, because motivating people by the dialectic of “carrots and stick” – rewards and punishment is not the appropriate way to reach “quality”. But although he tried to abolish giving marks in his course and caused some of his hardworking students to have a nervous breakdown, he could not really offer an alternative teaching method, as the whole way of living and the mental structure of the people in the society he lived, supported the established educational system.

    By Blogger icono-clast, at 5:13 AM, December 03, 2004  

  • I have heard the title of the book,“Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”somewhere before, but I have not read it yet. I believe the most important thing for a researcher or student is to study driven by the strong desire to know something important to him/herself, or to him/her own life. I think what you wrote above is very similar to the reason why I have advocated "life studies" so far. I appreciate your comment.

    Human ecology is a very stimulating discipline. The relationship between humans and the environment, relationship between humans and the city, the relationship betweem human psychology and the landscape, etc. Lots of themes come to my mind.....

    By Blogger Masahiro_Morioka, at 9:42 AM, December 04, 2004  

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