Tuesday, November 16, 2010

There is knowledge and there is knowledge

I really like the book, Five minds for the future, by Howard Gardner.  I find the emphasis on scholarship, teaching, and learning quite inspiring, refreshing and challenging.
However, I do have  a minor bone to pick with something I just read.
Chapter 3, "The Synthesizing mind" begins
In the Western sacred tradition, the story of human beings begins in the Garden of Eden, when Adam was enticed to take a first bite of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. For the generations that immediately followed the biblical Adam, knowledge accumulated at a sufficiently slow rate that it could be passed on orally....
I think this represents a significant misunderstanding and  misapplication of the Genesis narrative. I do not think it is not about academic knowledge but something very different, a loss of moral purity and innocence. The text of Genesis 2 and 3 actually says:

16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."....

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" 2And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" 4But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. 

The image is Temptation and Fall by William Blake (1808)

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