Author Archives: The Doc

About The Doc

"The Doc" is a professor at Vassar College (USA). However, the views expressed in his blog and comments are not necessarily those of Vassar, its administration, or other employees, none of whom bears any responsibility for his opinions.

The Debate over the Garfield-Van Norden Essay in The Stone

From Jay Garfield and Bryan W. Van Norden’s “If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Let’s Call It What It Really Is,” : The vast majority of philosophy departments in the United States offer courses only on philosophy derived from Europe and the English-speaking … Continue reading

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The Dilemma Trump Presents for the GOP

The dominance of Donald Trump in the GOP primaries presents a dilemma for Republicans:  should the GOP be more afraid of a national convention like the one that nominated Barry Goldwater in 1964, or like the one in which the Democrats nominated Hubert … Continue reading

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Bibliography of Essential Readings on Chinese Philosophy

Essential Readings on Chinese Philosophy Compiled by Bryan W. Van Norden (version of August 5, 2015)  This list represents one opinion on the essential translations and secondary readings in English on Chinese philosophy. This is not a comprehensive list, and … Continue reading

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Should the Ethics of Presidential Candidates Matter?

The classical view on the relationship between ethics and rulership can be traced back to Plato (424-348 BCE), whose Republic argues that a state will never be well governed unless its rulers are virtuous.  Plato’s student Aristotle challenged his master … Continue reading

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The Bone that Changed China

The Famen Buddhist Temple (in what is now Shaanxi Province, in the People’s Republic of China) has been an important center for Buddhism since it was built near the end of the Six Dynasties period (220-581 CE). The temple is … Continue reading

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Zhuangzi and Peirce on Truth and Rationality

If Western readers are familiar with any Taoist text, it is probably the Classic of the Way and Virtue, attributed to Laozi.  (Ronald Reagan even cited it in a State of the Union Address.)  However, cognoscenti are aware that the Zhuangzi … Continue reading

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Review of Iris Murdoch’s Novel, The Nice and the Good

This is a review of Iris Murdoch’s novel, The Nice and the Good (1968). Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was one of the greatest English novelists of the 20th century, and also an important figure in philosophy.  In fact, she was a professor … Continue reading

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Obituary for David S. Nivison

David Shepherd Nivison, emeritus professor of Philosophy, Religious Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University, passed away peacefully on October 16, 2014, aged 91. Nivison had a career trajectory that would be almost impossible in the contemporary … Continue reading

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My College Is Being Blackmailed

My college is being blackmailed. The story of the blackmail goes back to Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education under Bush the Younger. Spellings (who has no classroom teaching experience, and no degree that would even qualify her to teach at … Continue reading

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The McDonalds-ification of Higher Education

There is an approach to learning that is corroding education, especially higher education, in the US: I call it the “McDonalds-ification of Education.” “Fast food” has been around for a long time. The ancient Romans had it. But McDonald’s raised … Continue reading

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