The Images Dancing in David Gelernter’s Head

Evan R. Goldstein in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Photo_2569_carousel On a Wednesday afternoon in late October, David Gelernter is seated at the head of a green Formica table in a small classroom in Arthur K. Watson Hall on the campus of Yale University, where he is a professor of computer science. “Can you know something you don't know you know?” he asks the small group of students enrolled in a course called “Computer Science and the Modern Intellectual Agenda,” which, according to the syllabus, explores how cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and philosophy of mind can distinguish “seeming from being” and locate “a man's (or your own) identity.”

An hour before class, Gelernter—technological guru, conservative polemicist, Unabomber target—had tried to locate his own identity. “I'm a misfit,” he said. “Most people fit in a groove and focus on one thing, but I cut across the grain of different areas.” In conversation, the eclecticism of Gelernter's mind is immediately apparent. An opinionated raconteur, he seamlessly transitions from literary criticism (“Deconstructionists destroy texts”), to trends in the art world (“Modern museums are devoted to diversity as opposed to greatness”), gender roles (“Women mainly work because of male greed”), contemporary politics (“Anti-Semitism in Europe is so intense that, I think, Hitler would have an easier time today then he did in 1933”), and earthier topics (“I am obsessed with sex and sexuality as much as anyone I have ever met”).

More here.