Course Glossary

(Instructor's Class Notes on Select Course-related Terms and Phrases )

Introduction

Folks/People/Guys: I must first draw your attention to the purpose of producing this glossary for you. I have not produced this document simply to provide you with helpful definitions of the key terms we have (or will) come across in this course; there is a bigger purpose—in other words, there is a subtext to this glossary, and it is this: Too many students graduate from this school with a very poor understanding of the difference between knowledge and information. The two are not the same, even though in daily parlance they are often used interchangeably. Information is what we get, for example, when we do research. It is usually in the form of facts, observations, and the like. After the information has been gathered it must be processed (analyzed) to transform it into knowledge: the body of analyzed information that allows us to understand whatever it is that the research was about. To give you an example from your world: to know the different parts of a car engine and their functions is to possess information about that engine. However, that is not knowledge; knowledge of a car engine is when you can explain the physical principles behind the operation of the engine. It is knowledge of these principles that allowed the invention of the engine. (So, do you know the principles behind the operation of the internal combustion engine?…. I thought so.) Now, in order to transform information into knowledge you have to have access to tools of analysis (which usually takes the form of theories, concepts, and the like). The purpose of this glossary, then, is to also introduce you to some of the key concepts and theories that are behind the material that we have covered (or will cover) in this course.

I must also alert you to the fact that knowledge is not always neutral (and that includes scientific knowledge). Most knowledge is also biased depending upon who is producing it—though that does not automatically mean that such knowledge is incorrect or useless. For example: conservatives tend to be suspicious about knowledge produced by liberals (and vice versa); similarly, progressives are suspicious of knowledge produced by both conservatives and liberals. In my classes, knowledge is always biased toward the view that mutual harmony in society rests on democracy (not in its narrow sense, but in its wider dyadic sense as defined here). It is democracy that separates us from barbarity and chaos.

I hope you will consider this document as my gift to you as part of my mission to try and do good in this world—why else do teachers become teachers? Enjoy!

Instructions on How to Use These Class Notes

1. People, this online course material is a permanent work in progress; meaning it is constantly under revision. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you do NOT print this material but instead only access it online whenever you want to consult it. This will ensure that you are reading the latest version.

2. Not all terms in this course glossary may be relevant to this particular course. (See your own notes of class lectures and/or announcements on the class home page and/or the class proceedings schedule in the syllabus packet to determine which terms you must know for the purposes of tests/exams.)

3. Please keep a dictionary handy when going through this material; you may need it.

4. Words highlighted in bold within the text of a definition is an indication that these words are also defined elsewhere in this glossary and therefore they must also be consulted for test purposes, even if they may not have been explicitly assigned. <-- Read this sentence again.

5. Do not succumb to intellectual laziness by omitting to study any included images and end notes. This is really important! (By the way, where did you get the brilliant idea that footnotes and end notes are irrelevant? Test questions may also come from notes and images.)

6. As I have stated in class before (and as common sense would suggest), anything written by me I assign you to read should be considered as an extension of my class lectures. Hello!