Of Therapy And Personal And Academic Anxieties

Reading some of the discussion sparked by Peter Railton’s Dewey Lecture has prompted me to write this post. In the fall of 1996, I began studying for my Ph.D qualifier exams. I had worked full-time at a non-academic job for the previous year, saving up some money so that I could take a month orContinue reading “Of Therapy And Personal And Academic Anxieties”

Steven Weinberg’s History Of Science Syllabus

A few years ago, on reading–perhaps in the New York Review of Books—Steven Weinberg mention his teaching an undergraduate history of science class at the University of Texas, I wrote to Weinberg: Professor Weinberg, […] I believe you teach a class on the history of science at UT-Austin. I would be very interested in perusing yourContinue reading “Steven Weinberg’s History Of Science Syllabus”

Learning From Freud: Addiction, Distraction, Schedules

In An Anatomy of an Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and The Miracle Drug Cocaine, Howard Markel writes: At some point in every addict’s life comes the moment when what started as a recreational escape devolves into an endless reserve of negative physical, emotional, and social consequences. Those seeking recovery today call this drug-induced nadir a “bottom.”…TheContinue reading “Learning From Freud: Addiction, Distraction, Schedules”

The Pencil Eraser As Proustian Madeleine

I prepare for classes by reading the texts I have assigned. As I read, on occasion, I make notes in the margins or underline words and sentences. Not too vigorously or extensively, because I still suffer from old scruples and niceties having to do with a fetishistic respect for the printed word; it took meContinue reading “The Pencil Eraser As Proustian Madeleine”

Teaching Wittgenstein And Making The Familiar Unfamiliar

I’m teaching Wittgenstein this semester–for the first time ever–to my Twentieth-Century Philosophy class. My syllabus requires my students to read two long excerpts from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations; bizarrely enough, in my original version of that exalted contract with my students, I had allotted one class meeting to a discussion of the section from the Tractatus. Three classesContinue reading “Teaching Wittgenstein And Making The Familiar Unfamiliar”

On Not Recommending One’s Choices

Recently, all too often, I catch myself saying something like the following, “I took decision X, and I have my fair share of regrets and self-congratulation about it but I would not recommend X to anyone” or “In all honesty, I couldn’t recommend that you take decision X as I did.” Or something like that:Continue reading “On Not Recommending One’s Choices”

Meritocracies, Rankings, Curricula: A Personal Take On Academic Philosophy

Some six years ago, shortly after I had been appointed to its faculty, the philosophy department at the CUNY Graduate Center began revising its long-standing curriculum; part of its expressed motivation for doing so was to bring its curriculum into line with those of “leading” and “top-ranked” programs. As part of this process, it invitedContinue reading “Meritocracies, Rankings, Curricula: A Personal Take On Academic Philosophy”

Philosophical Silencing: A Follow-Up

In response to my post on an act of philosophical silencing, Wesley Buckwalter wrote the following comment (over at the NewAPPS blog, where I cross-posted): As you know, I was the gentleman that made that remark in a private facebook thread with a close friend. If I recall correctly, people in that thread were askingContinue reading “Philosophical Silencing: A Follow-Up”

An Act Of Philosophical Silencing

A few months ago, I noticed an interesting and telling interaction between a group of academic philosophers. A Facebook friend posted a little note about how one of her students had written to her about having encountered a so-called “Gettier case” i.e., she had acquired a true belief for invalid reasons. In the email, theContinue reading “An Act Of Philosophical Silencing”

A Paradigmatic Example Of A Philosophical Dickhead

Over at the Rough Ground, Bharath Vallabha has an interesting and critical post on the institutional biases implicit and explicit in the ranking of philosophers. He takes as target a recent poll that ranked the Top Twenty Anglophone Philosophers. Vallabha notes the lists’ most prominently featured institutions and philosophical traditions, its narrow emphases, and goes onContinue reading “A Paradigmatic Example Of A Philosophical Dickhead”