Dominant group/Project narrative
"What is a dominant group and the forces behind it?"
Usually an enduring question is thought of as unanswerable yet it seems to have persisted throughout time (at least the time of humanity). Everyone knows the question is unanswerable. Yet, if you ask any student or educator, "What is a dominant group?" Each one will knowingly state the answer. Some may even agree with each other. I do not know the answer. One such answer given is "Athough it's clear that a dominant group is a group that dominates other groups it's not clear that the expression has some meaning beyond that obvious one." A second answer: ""dominant group" is a phrase in the English language that has its normal meaning; it is not a special concept in relation to astronomy." A third is ""dominant group" is a phrase in the English language that has its normal meaning; it is not a special concept in relation to extinction." Yet another was emphatically stated "Insofar as it is a thing, it's the sociological term - economics does not have its own definition".
There is at least one dictionary definition discovered (the Obvious hypothesis): "a social group that controls the value system and rewards in a particular society."[Farlex (2009). "The Free Dictionary by Farlex: Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 8th edition". Elsevier.] This seems in conflict with usage such as "The dominant group in all cases are stony meteors."[Zd. Ceplecha (1958). "On the composition of meteors". Bulletin of the Astronomical Institutes of Czechoslovakia 9: 154-9.]
One reason for giving the course is that it seems today's students and some educators already know all the answers to all the questions, even perhaps the legendary enduring ones.
The challenge here is two-fold. A dominant group in some synonymous form has been around humanity from at least about 700 BC and maybe even before that. Everyone knows they're out there. Everyone knows who or what they are, but those people who are not a member of any human dominant group are angry, frustrated, or afraid. If you are a member, you're probably only afraid of being targeted by the others. Or, knowing that you're a member may give you that added sense of security about the future that others do not have.
The simplest intellectual justification for the new humanities course is to improve students' and educators' awareness that a dominant group may be less, more, or other than what they believe it to be. In addition, some alternate answers may have nothing to do with being human, humanism, humanness, humanistic methods, or the human condition. Yet dominant groups in some form may have been altering the course of human existence, deferring meanings of humanness to something much less, or steering humans on a course via the humanities to human betterment.
A question like "Can war be just?" is fun to contemplate and read about unless you're currently fleeing Syria on your way to Turkey as a refugee. There, people are shooting at each other trying to determine if they or the current, heavily armed government is the dominant group. The question of "Who is the dominant group?" is being asked with bullets, tanks, artillery, combatants, and military aircraft; maybe even chemical weapons. But is this the only type of dominant group?
A part of dominant group is the concept of dominance. Is dominance a fundamental concern of human life? Or, is humanity the fundamental concern? Are humans, at their core, the very fiber of their being, really into dominance over all else? Is a dominant group always the "bad-guys"? Or, should we be looking at the forces behind it, or even more deeply at the forces using the label?
[One of the Seven Sages of Greece.]: "Thales' political life had mainly to do with the involvement of the Ionians in the defense of Anatolia against the growing power of the Persians, who were then new to the region. ... The Seven Sages were most likely already in existence, as Croesus was also heavily influenced by Solon of Athens, another sage."[Wikipedia entry on "Thales".] What is a dominant group circa 600 BC?" Is it the Seven Sages of Greece, or the kings with their armies battling over people and territory? What are the forces behind either of them?
Yet a third type of dominant group exists. Dominant group is one of the few if not the only concept to have survived within three theories of evolution: Darwin's theory of natural selection, survival of the fittest; the theory of evolutionary progressivism, or social darwinism; and the modern evolutionary synthesis used today.
Here at Wikiversity, dominant group is an original research project. Part of that effort is to find those "great thinkers" from a range of historical periods and fields who may have had the courage to write or express in some way about the dominant groups of their time. These works may include such artworks as the wall painting from Val Camonica, Lombardy, Italy, ca. -12,000 b2k (before 2000 AD), which is currently being used here at Wikiversity as a representative image for a lecture on the "Classics", even though it predates the classics by about 8,000 years.
Possible additional authors to explore are those such as Cheikh Anta Diop through such efforts as Cheikh Anta Diop edited by Ivan Van Sertima and Larry Obadele Williams. "Throughout history conquerors often build their domination on ethnic bases thus the exploitation of man by man takes on an ethnic framework with social class status linked to the dominant group. Diop cites the example of Sparta as the classic example of this form of economic exploitation founded exclusively on ethnic difference."[Cheikh Anta Diop, p. 155.]
"[E]ncountered by Callicles in Plato's Gorgias, ... he both holds that democracy, like all other regimes, expresses the desire of a dominant group to enjoy power and at the same time criticizes democracy for constraining the most powerful individuals."[from M. Nussbaum's "Is Nietzsche a political thinker?" in the International Journal of' Philosophical Studies of 1997.]
In cultural anthropology, "The difference, as writers like Talal Asad within anthropology and Norman Fairclough within linguistics (Language and Power, 1989) would argue, is that the notion of hegemony problematises how a common social-moral language-a given discourse- achieves and reproduces its dominance, whereas earlier accounts of culture appeared to accept at face value the representations of the dominant group and their claim to speak for all."[from Brian V. Street, "Culture is a Verb: Anthropological aspects of language and cultural process", In: Language and Culture.]
But, with artifacts, rather than living people, such as from archaeology, "Although a part of the pottery assemblage there was petrographically similar to the one from En-Gedi, the dominant group consisted of dark red clay vessels. Shales and siltstones were the main tempering materials."[from Isaac Gilead and Yuval Goren, "Petrographic analyses of fourth millennium BC pottery and stone vessels from the Northern Negev, Israel" in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.]
To perhaps demonstrate further the intellectual pluralism of the course and the research effort is "Since the morality of the sect and that of the dominant group are not only different but antithetical-what is acceptable to the latter is taboo to the former-the repudiation of the sectarian morality means the acquisition of the morality of the dominant group. There seems to be a differential rate of acculturation in religion, although the data do not admit of many generalizations."[from "The acculturation of American ethnic groups" in the American Anthropologist by Melford E. Spiro.] To explore possible answers of "What is a dominant group and the forces behind it?" requires more than one plausible or compelling approach from empiricism to comparison and contrast between different fields.
Wikiversity encourages learning by doing. Others have already discussed dominant group when I prepared entries about it for Wikipedia. This course on Wikiverisity encourages intellectual community simply by being presented on a web-based free educational university. Of the previous courses dedicated to exploring the answers to an enduring question, few if any are still accessible online. This course, if its creation is funded, remains on the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) hosted Wikiversity project for all students and educators of the humanities, and other fields, to enjoy and benefit from.
For the dominant-group question, a series of lectures are to be created that address topics associated with arriving at each answer. A university-style course, modeled after "Principles of radiation astronomy" at Wikiversity (https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Principles_of_Radiation_Astronomy), may be taken by students dynamically. Each enduring-question course resource may have a level of completion icon based, e.g., on up to ~ 100 kilobytes or more of total information. Up to forty-eight such lectures would constitute the heart of the course (one each of three days in a week, or at the student's pace) for an approximate semester. These should be supplemented by mini-quiz section lectures on key concepts, approximately one for each week. A discussion setting may concentrate on a particular reading resource such as Livy, Ab urbe condita, to determine text applicability to the question, or on a synonym such as patrician class. Each resource on Wikiversity has a "Discussion" page.
Lessons will be included that promote individual effort seeking answers to a subsidiary question:
- What is the origin of dominant group, and the concepts behind it?
- How did dominant group come to be used in so many different synonyms, fields and languages?
- Through its synonyms, why does dominant group exist?
- or an attempt to answer one or more of the many hypotheses (twenty-two so far) such as "Dominant group is an artifact".
Problem sets will emphasize differentiating topics associated with the main question.
For the students to test their understanding, there are to be quizzes, hourlies, a mid term and a final exam. Usually, these are also learning aids as they can be retaken indefinitely so that students may increase their score, their understanding of the information, and their test-taking skills, useful in other college-level courses.
Alternate examinations that may be used by a student's home college or university for credit in this course will be available from Wikiversity by courier for closed-session, proctored testing of proficiency.
As dominant group is an ongoing original research project, there are a number of subsidiary projects that students are encouraged to participate in. Probably the toughest of these is "Dominant group/Origin". So far, the oldest printed use of dominant group, as dominant groups is in William Kirby's An Introduction to Entomology: or Elements of the Natural History of Insects, Volume IV with William Spence, published in 1826. With lesser demands, students are encouraged to trace synonyms into other languages and further back in time. Student initiated research projects on related topics of their own composition are also included. Finding additional reading choices is itself a research project. These will be studied for synonymy, context, and usage. Any student proposed synonym or variation that may go beyond synonymy like control group goes beyond dominant group will be studied and discussed.
The effectiveness of the course is assessed by the products of its students and the use of hit counters.
While the voluntary development of courses is free and open at Wikiversity, many online courses are only hosted when being conducted in a classroom setting offline at various colleges and universities world-wide. Unfortunately, like many of the previous enduring-questions courses, these products are lost when the course is over except whatever is created here or preserved at NEH. At Wikiversity this is an opportunity to prepare and participate in such a course that continues after completion. Other editors and I are free to continue to improve the course dynamically.
Courses like "Principles of radiation astronomy" are the rare exception. It receives my development effort because much of its content helps me to reach the "state of the art or science". Once this state is reached I apply for grants when further research is likely to create or discover knowledge beyond this that I believe should be in the public domain. Many of the courses offered here are such that their faculty creators receive stipends from their college or university of residence. As I do not receive funding from Wikiversity or the WMF, this is a vital opportunity for NEH to greatly increase its endeavor "to make the products of its awards available to the broadest possible audience. Our goal is for scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to the wide range of NEH award products."
The preparation of a syllabus should help motivate students to complete the course resources thoroughly, especially those who wish to receive college credit (up to four semester hours) through closed, proctored exams.
Preparing the course expands my intellectual and scholarly range through greater appreciation and consideration of the humanities, the human condition, humanism, and humanistic methods. These endeavors are important aspects to be applied especially to the sciences. Not the least of which is the "Classical planets" lecture and original research project. Putting it another way, "if higher education becomes any more driven by corporate objectives, the humanities will be grappling for survival."[Unknown author.] The same could be said of sciences like astronomy.
Other dissemination may include a presentation at a conference or publication in an appropriate journal if sufficient original results occur while preparing and being available to teach and improve this course.
Presently, here at Wikiversity the book tool is the only one I am currently aware of that prepares documents such as this in a pdf format. Although the original project narrative on Wikiversity is double spaced, the book tool renders all text into book format independent of spacing or other source commands. While other agencies such as the United States National Science Foundation have their own in-house pdf tool that proposal submitters may use to create pdf files as part of their proposal, apparently NEH does not as yet. I would kindly ask that double spacing of this narrative not be used to prevent proposal review. Once an alternative pdf tool becomes available for free, this narrative may be emailed to NEH for any record-keeping desired.