I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again “I know that that’s a tree”, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: “This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.” (Wittgenstein, On Certainty, §467)
owl_of_minerva: (Default)
( Sep. 9th, 2007 03:48 pm)
From Naomi Scheman, "Feminism in Philosophy of Mind," in The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy, ed. Miranda Fricker & Jennifer Hornsby (Cambridge UP 2000), pp. 52-53:

Disputes among feminist theorists frequently take the following form: theorists of type A argue against the appeal to absolute standards of truth or rightness that exist in abstraction from our lives and practices, on the grounds that such appeals reflect a suspicion of plurality and diversity and a disdain for that which is local, particular, contextual, contingent, embedded and embodied; while theorists of type B argue for the importance of standards of truth or rightness that are independent of what people happen to do or say, on the grounds that what most people happen to do and say -- expert discourses and common sense alike -- is prone to sexist and other forms of bias, and that we need a more compelling response than simply that we don't like it. Thus arise the debates between universalists and particularists in ethics, essentialists and social constructionists in gender and sexuality theory, empiricists and postmodernists in philosophy of science, objectivists and relativists in epistemology. The tendentious nature of all those labels reflects the divisiveness of the disputes, a divisiveness that obscures the fact that for many of us the disputes are internal to any position we might occupy. They are, I want to suggest, better thought of as necessary tensions, as reminders of the theoretical and political importance both of attention to diversity and particularity and of non-arbitrary, rationally defensible justification.
"Kantianism is only superficially repulsive -- despite appearances, it offers an inducement, solace to a sense of the world's unfairness."

- Bernard Williams – “Moral Luck” from Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973-1980 (Cambridge UP, 1981), p.21.
A non f-locked post, just for fun.

This summer I'm teaching an introductory freshman course on philosophy; it's a required core course, so I have a lot of non-majors. I've taught this course a number of times before, and I've decided to totally revamp the syllabus. Instead of focusing on the nature of the soul & freedom, I'm going to focus on love & pleasure.

So far, I have the following (mostly in excerpts): Plato, Phaedrus and Symposium; some Biblical bits from OT & NT; Augustine in excerpt (any specific recommendations are good!) ; Aquinas in excerpt on the nature of love & friendship (already know which bits I'll use); Descartes in excerpt from Passions of the Soul; a little Freud (from Civilization & its Discontents?); Kierkegaard excerpts from Diary of a Seducer and Works of Love.  Anything obvious I'm leaving out?  Any further suggestions?   Keep in mind this is a very very very intro-level course, and since it's only over 5 weeks, students don't have that much time to absorb.   Given the heavy Christian emphasis (which is inevitable given I'm required to include medieval philosophy), any commentary on love from non-Christian sources would be great, too. Is there any Buddhist stuff on love or pleasure that would be fun?
owl_of_minerva: (Default)
( Feb. 23rd, 2007 04:10 pm)
The academics_anon discussion of the Middlebury decision re. Wikipedia reminded me of the time I looked up "autonomy" on Wikipedia, just out of curiosity (since it's my research area).

Yikes. Oh dear.

Actually to be more careful, here is the link to the latest edit, in the history page, in case someone updates it. Excerpts below.

Choice quotations: )
I'm working on my syllabus for a sophomore course on ethics; it's a required core course for all students at my university. Everyone will have already had one course on philosophy. I'm going to start the class with two weeks of one-shot classes on various themes: a day on medical ethics (I'm using an article on the problems with research on human subjects), a day on animal rights (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] epistolarysmack and [livejournal.com profile] theoryishotcrew, I'm probably going to use the Nozick piece on "Constraints and Animals"), a day on business ethics, and a day on pacifism/violence. Something like that, anyway. These two weeks will set up general questions about what philosophical ethics tries to achieve, and students will begin tentatively working on a paper project that they will develop over the course of the semester.

I'm still hunting around for articles, as you can see, for the last two... I'm also open to changing the themes. Peter Singer's piece in the NY Times last month about charitable giving might be a likely prospect, also. The articles should be accessible -- the type of thing that comes up in the NY Times magazine, for instance, is right about perfect.

So -- have any of you read anything neat and roughly ethicsy lately that you think might appeal to 19-20 year olds who are being forced to take my course? It could even be something provocatively denying the possibility of ethics -- i.e., realpolitik in humanitarianism or something. Any recommendations are good.

Bonus: Emma Frost (from Astonishing X-men) as my rolemodel )