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When it becomes popular to be unpopular - Or the neglect of the socratic method of teaching

von Thomas Trautzsch

The School of Athens - Rafael
The School of Athens - Rafael
Now that the 4th installment of LPACs Leibniz Series has passed into the land it becomes painstakingly clear that the whole endeavour misses by some margin what it originally set out for. So it was promised in the 1st installment that people could have a discussion about the matters that where concerning Leibniz, his activities, great political and scientific achievements and his meaning for the modern world's development and people were invited to join that discussion. The discussion was supposed to take place in the comment section of LPACs youtube channel.
At the beginning I was actually quite excited about it and expected some multilateral conversation about Leibniz's works taking place and a few people actually started off discussing things in the comments, probably expecting some open bilateral exchange of views and facts.

Now, at the 1st and 2nd installment the outset was communicated that, among other things, the "Real Calculus" was to be treated and interestingly it was those installments to which people from the outside responded most in the comments. I can only speculate that the reason for this turn out and elevated interest is the fact, that the calculus and it's meaning are still somewhat mysterious to most people. I am pretty sure that the Larouche people condemn that fact and will blame people of being merely sense-oriented mathematically thinking animals. People probably have less difficulties grasping Leibniz' meaning for the eurasion integration question, than they have understanding the principles, which lead to the discovery and development of the calculus. Unfortunately, the series did not live up to its own promise to shed some light onto that question and by now it is very clear that the series did not set out for a real discussion on Leibniz's works themselves, but rather for using Leibniz legacy of a genius, who sponsored eurasian development for a promotion of the Transatlantic-Eurasian Integration Project. That in itself is not problematic and most worthy of anyone's support, but then it should have been labeled and presented as such right from the beginning. In that context, the aim of the production obviously is to educate people more about the principles of creativity and development for the common good of mankind, based on natural law, of which, what we call morals, are the most profound reflections of. You can be a moral and knowledgable person without knowing the calculus, sure, but as soon as you start to elevate yourself to a morally superior position and you are consciously making Leibniz discovery of the calculus a part of that, you should at least make sure that you perfectly understand its true origins, because otherwise your credibility for the conveyance of your actual message will suffer.

Sometime between the 1st and the 3rd installment I started having an exchange with Jason Ross, where I complained about his utterly incomplete presentation of the calculus and the fact, that he was very obviously not paying attention to the details of how it came about. I argued that if someone fails to recognize the details, which allow for a proper and correct description of the calculus, how can that person speak with authority about the big moral questions of human interaction and development? I am always amused, when someone, who does not understand the most elementary of things, is trying to explain the world to me. That does not necessarily mean that this someone is wrong, but his authority is certainly undermined in a crucial way, which probably does not really contribute to an enlargenment of an understanding audience. The amount and distribution of the Youtube-Comments of the Leibniz-Series "Discussion" tell their own story, which is certainly supporting my point to the fullest.

A socratic discussion looks different

In the above chart, I depicted the number of actual commentators and the number of comments made in the Youtube-Comments section. They show clearly that a number of people were actually quite interested at first to have a discussion about Leibniz's work, but there came a very sharp drop with the 2nd installment, which was titled "Leibniz Part II - The Real Calculus" and in which nothing "real" was actually revealed about the calculus at all other than the fact that Jason is not familiar with the original works of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz on the matter of the calculus. And I personally think that this had a very bad effect on the following installments in terms of participation in the discussion. I think Jason has lost the momentum here and that exactly right before he wanted to make his actual point of Eurasian and Transatlantic-Eurasian Development since the 4th series and I am curious to see if the momentum, if there ever was one, can be recovered during the remainder of this series.

People clearly lost interest in this and in my view this is not insignificantly due to the display of unadeptness about the calculus in the 2nd installment. Under these circumstances, if I ask again, if it is worth paying attention to the details, the production team and perhaps even Mr. Larouche himself can hardly deny that, at least when looking at this particular case.

So, instead of seeking the advise of people who knowingly already have done elaborate work on Leibniz' calculus based on his original works, it was prefered to ignore the topic completely for the time being and to continue right away to concentrate on the eurasian integration message. In fact, the development of the calculus can make a perfect demonstrative example of the human creative powers for the good of mankind and various other principles that are unique to the creative human being, which also have reverberations and are applicable in politics and development strategies, like the Eurasian Integration Question.

The problem with the series is that it neglects, or even violates the concept of the method of socratic teaching, which actually has been praised by the organisation itself numerous times, by making this a uni-lateral teaching process without interaction with the supposed students in the world outside of the Larouche-Organisation. One aspect of the socratic method of teaching is that it necessitates a teacher and a student likewise, who are willing to explore a certain subject with an open end by asking stimulating questions to one another, the answers of which can take both, the teacher and the student closer to the truth or an actual discovery. It is this very process, which is even more important than the discovery itself. On this issue I would like to quote directly from Leibniz' work "On the arithmetic quadrature of the circle ellipse and hyperbola" from the Scholium of Proposition VI:

"I would rather have overgone this proposition, because nothing is further from my mind than the over-precise pedantisms of some authors, who are more interested in show than in results, for they also equally consume time for some ceremonies and have more work than understanding and cover the origin of the discoveries, which mostly seem more important to me than the discovery itself, in dark clouded night. Since I am not denying that in the interest of geometry one posesses strictly proven methods themselves and principles of discoveries as well as certain specifically important propositions, I had been of the opinion, that the old-fashioned ways should be accounted for in some way."

In other words: When one fights stupidity and backwardness, one unfortunately is bound to be rigorous and detailed about things.

And this is exactly what makes the organization much different from Leibniz. Leibniz was thoroughly able to dismantle wrong opposing concepts and views by his rigorously applied reasoning even if going down to the most elementary details. This is what gave him his authority also in matters of political and economic matters.

If someone wants to turn a whole population into geniuses, which is a noble goal, then oneself has to be a genius inspiring others. Is inspiration achieved solely by talking about creativity or by actually applying it in a process of discovery? Neither Mr. Larouche nor most of his current associates (with the potential exception of Ms. Keesha Rogers) are geniuses by my own very general definition, simply because it is not enough to preach about creativity rather than apply it by yourself. I have never read any classical poetry written by Mr. Larouche other than some rants about the english queen. I have never seen Mr. Larouche creating or performing a piece of classical music nor have I seen Mr. Larouche discover an original universal physical principle, which Mr. Larouche himself probably would claim to have done with the concept of potential relative population density and energy-flux-density, which are actually combined principles, which already existed and were discovered before by other people, but which Mr. Larouche just connected in an economic context. Is that a discovery of an original universal physical principle? I would doubt that. Most of what had been written in his book "So, you wish to learn about Economics" was in essence available as knowledge before, but no one simply made politics with these expressed combinations of principles.

In the exchange with Jason, I furthermore made the point that I found it questionable as to why those Live Google-Hangout sessions are never shared in advance to the public, such that people could join in live and thereby create a real discussion. Probably, upon this feedback of mine, the production team reacted by publishing a kind of an invitation for the 3rd installment's Google-Hangout Session with a date and a time. By the time the session arrived, I found that it was not taking place and that later just another "incestuous" recording of an organisation-internal presentation video was published with the apology that the broadcast had to be re-scheduled. Obviously, real bi- or even multilateral discussion with people from the outside of the organisation was not desired at the time.

My take on this is that the production team got an authoritive intervention in some way, as comments were made later on one of Mr. Larouche's "Townhall- Fireside Chat" Events about the avoidance of detail in favor of bringing the actual point across and preventing dummies from the outside to take control of the organization etc. Funny. So that is what LPAC regards as an open discussion? It is understandable, if a certain quality of the discussion needs to be ensured in order to maintain a progress of it. But can this be done by completely shutting down other views and allowing only those arguments, which suit a certain purpose?

I really do share most of the ideas, goals and objectives of the LaroucheOrganizations, especially with the urgent need for eurasian integration, but their methods are sometimes far from being effective. Well-intentioned activity obstructed by a sense of unprofessionalism where on top of it some big ego stands in the way of progress. And while they are suffering from this unprofessionalism, many people of their organisation still tend to think of themselves as the most genius people. Well, maybe that is true, … maybe they really are from a purely moral perspective, but from a standpoint of reaching out to the people with new ideas, they could do a lot better than they do now, by simply acknowledging some facts about human discovery and learning.

The calculus discussion could and should serve as a vehicle to understand genius and what gives birth to a new discovery. It is not the sole talk about creativity. It is its direct application in reality and the art is to draw that bridge in a presentation to really inspire more than 7 people to become geniuses.

Thomas Trautzsch
Jacob-Michelsen-Str. 3                  
07749 Jena


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