Monthly Archives: January 2012

Student Reading Habits

I was very interested to discover that a lot of my students have read Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.  I read that when I was in high school, but I would have guessed that no one in their … Continue reading

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Nisbett’s The Geography of Thought

Several people have recommended to me Richard Nisbitt’s The Geography of Thought:  How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why.   The title is already cringe-inducing. “Asia” is the same as the “Orient,” and as Edward Said demonstrated in his seminal … Continue reading

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Methodological Solipsism

Descartes makes methodological solipsism almost compulsive for later philosophers. (How is that for opening with a grand pronouncement?) By “methodological solipsism” I mean an approach to philosophy that claims we have privileged access to our own mental states, we have … Continue reading

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The Value of Philosophy

A student pointed out to me Gary Gutting’s recent article for the NY Times philosophy column, “The Stone.”  Previous installments of “The Stone” have come under fire for what some professional philosophers regard as inaccurate claims and sloppy reasoning.  Gutting’s … Continue reading

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Student Question on Meta-Philosophy

Every time I teach intro to philosophy (we call it Problems of Philosophy, a title I’m not especially fond of, but that’s best saved for another post), I have at least one student who is some combination of a radical … Continue reading

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Analytic Philosophy

I am blessed with outstanding junior colleagues working in a variety of sub-fields of philosophy.  One of them gave a presentation the other day on how to handle vague terms.  The talk was impressively precise, and I think I will … Continue reading

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Aristotle said that virtues are means between extremes.  He is not saying that everyone should strive to be mediocre and emotionally tepid in everything that they do.  The mean is relative to each situation.  So sometimes you are following the … Continue reading

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I was interviewed today (for an article about unusual hobbies of Vassar professors) about playing in last summer’s World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.  I don’t think everything I said will make the article, but part of what I … Continue reading

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Evaluating Teaching

It’s the beginning of a new semester.  One of the things that this means is that I have gotten the numerical and written feedback from students for the courses I taught last semester.  The numerical feedback is what counts for … Continue reading

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