The Sneaker Pimps as Accompaniment for the Morning Newspaper

I’ve written before on this blog about the ability of music to recall specific memories: working as a bartender in a jazz bar, or suffering through a hot Brooklyn summer while working on a book. Today’s recalled memories are about a  simpler time that might have felt hectic then but feels positively bucolic compared toContinue reading “The Sneaker Pimps as Accompaniment for the Morning Newspaper”

That Scalia Sure Chopped the Individual Mandate Like Broccoli!

I’ve now taught Philosophy of Law twice: first, in Spring 2007, and then later, two sections in Spring 2011. An important section of the class syllabus, once we have completed a comparison and discussion of natural law, positivist, and legal realist theories of the law, is legal reasoning. And invariably, an important topic in legalContinue reading “That Scalia Sure Chopped the Individual Mandate Like Broccoli!”

The Practice of Science According to Article Abstracts and Headers

Sometimes close reading of article headers can pay rich dividends. On Monday morning, my Philosophy of Biology class and I were slated to discuss a debate crucial to understanding adaptationist  paradigms: the role of bodyplan (Bauplan) constraints in restricting an organism’s  occupancy of possible points in developmental space, which complicates our understanding of the supposed ubiquityContinue reading “The Practice of Science According to Article Abstracts and Headers”

Adaptation, Abstraction

This spring semester, teaching Philosophy of Biology–especially the Darwinian model of adaptation and environmental filtration– has reminded me of the philosophical subtleties of  ‘abstract model’ and  ‘abstraction’. More generally, it has reminded me  that philosophy of science achieves particularly sharp focus in the philosophy of biology, and that classroom discussions are edifying in crucial ways.Continue reading “Adaptation, Abstraction”

Nietzsche, Power, and Bible-readers on the Subway

Last evening, after a full day of work teaching Philosophy of Biology, a seminar on Nietzsche, and conducting a teaching observation of a graduate fellow, I left campus for my evening weightlifting session. I was feeling run down, and not a hundred percent. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, perhaps a nagging cluster ofContinue reading “Nietzsche, Power, and Bible-readers on the Subway”

Random Searches on the New York Subways: Getting Used to the Stop-n-Frisk

New York City residents are, by now, used to the subway version of the stop-and-frisk, to the sight of policemen manning the turnstiles to the city subway, subjecting passengers to ‘random’ searches of their bags and belongings. The rules are quite simple: if you don’t subject yourselves to the search you don’t get to enterContinue reading “Random Searches on the New York Subways: Getting Used to the Stop-n-Frisk”

Marcus Aurelius On Correcting Others

In his Meditations (Book One), Marcus Aurelius offers us a lesson in constructive criticism: From Alexander the grammarian, [I learned] to refrain from fault-finding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous or solecistic or strange-sounding expression; but dexterously to introduce the very expression which ought to have been used,Continue reading “Marcus Aurelius On Correcting Others”

Personal Identity And Wanting To Be Jim Lovell

Personal identity is a philosophical topic made for thought experiments. The problem of persistence of identity is quite simply posed; as the Stanford Encylopedia for Philosophy entry for personal identity puts it: What determines which past or future being is you? Suppose you point to a child in an old class photograph and say, “That’sContinue reading “Personal Identity And Wanting To Be Jim Lovell”

Teaching Philosophy By Reading Out Loud

This semester, while teaching my two classes (Freud and Psychoanalysis; Modern Philosophy), I’ve relied at times on reading out loud my assigned texts in class. In particular, I’ve read out, often at great length, Leibniz’s Discourses on Metaphysics and The Mondadology, portions from The Critique of Pure Reason, and in the Freud class, portions ofContinue reading “Teaching Philosophy By Reading Out Loud”

Nietzsche and Philosophy Discussion

Next week, on Tuesday, November 22nd, I will be conducting a discussion with the Brooklyn College Philosophy Department’s Philosophy Society titled “Without Cruelty There Is No Festival: Nietzsche and Philosophy”. This is the description I sent to our society co-ordinator Justin Steinberg (an amazing Spinoza scholar): Rarely can there have been a philosopher as readable,Continue reading “Nietzsche and Philosophy Discussion”