The third presentation in the Bartling Lecture Series (Wednesday, October 16th, 10:30 – 11:25 a.m. Buenger Education Center, Concordia University, St. Paul ) focuses on topics that were of particular interest to me during my teaching career at Concordia University, such as human and civil rights, women’s issues, history and learning. This year’s lecture will be presented by Dr. Josie Johnson, long time civil-rights activist, a former Minneapolis Urban League Director and retired associate vice-president and Regent at University of Minnesota.
Of interest to me is how those attending the lecture, particularly the students, may have their lives enriched by their attendance. Application of what is heard may become more meaningful by a practical stance of living in the world. This may involve using practical thinking about the past from the standpoint of the problems posed by the individual’s present. Our thinking, according to the standpoint of living in the world, rather than thinking about the world, may be an evaluation by the lecturer and those who listen regarding their particular contemporary situation. It may be an appraisal of the present compared with the past. It may even be a value judgment, paradoxically for myself as a historian who supposedly deals only with the past, placed upon the future when compared with the present or the past. Thinking about the past, in this view is practical thought: evaluation based upon historical consciousness.
To confront the world as living it is to be aware of a definite past and an indefinite future. We live with a sense of continuity of our existence: with a vision of our life in mind about our past. We make a valuation of our life in our mind about our past and make a valuation about our achievements, failures, and missed opportunities; we sense our situation here and now concerning our vocation or avocation; we sense where we are headed with all of the uncertainties that will be settled sooner or later in one way or another. As we go on living our perspective continually changes and our evaluation of our past changes with the altered perspective. Our reasoning raises questions of our past changes with the altered perspective. Our reasoning raises questions of the past, the present, and the future. This is practical reasoning that stresses the personal reference essential to questioning from the standpoint of living in the world.Experiences of practical thinking about the usable past may make application regarding value judgment to my life and that of the contemporary scene. Adding this dimension of listening to a lecture or presentation with practical thinking may enhance the hearers and students present with an enhanced understanding and awareness of the nature of their evaluation of their own lives and the larger context of their world.