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Sci Tech    H4'ed 3/14/10

Who Was Walter Ong, and Why Is His Thought Important Today?

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Nie, Giselle de; Karl F. Morrison and Marco Mostert, eds. Seeing the Invisible in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2005.

Nightingale, Andrea Wilson. Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural Context. Cambridge, England: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2004.

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Ong, Walter J. Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue: From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason. Cambridge, Massachusetts: HarvardUniversity Press, 1958. A classic study of print culture. Reprinted with a new foreword by Adrian Johns by the University of Chicago Press in 2004. On page 338, in note 54, Ong credits the French philosopher Louis Lavelle (1883-1951) with "a discerning and profound treatment of the visual-oral opposition on which the present discussion [in Ong's book] turns," and Ong refers especially to Lavelle's La parole et l'ecriture (Paris, 1942). In his book Ong refers to the corpuscular sense of life with various terms: corpuscular view of reality, corpuscular epistemology, corpuscular psychology (pages 65-66, 72, 146, 171, 203, 210). For all practical purposes the corpuscular sense of life that Ong refers to is involved in what Bernard Lonergan mocks in Insight: A Study of Human Understanding as the tendency to equate knowing with "taking a good look." Ong also refers to the visualist loading of this tendency as visualism and hypervisualism.

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Ong, Walter J. The Barbarian Within: And Other Fugitive Essays. New York: Macmillan, 1962. See the index for "visualism."

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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