Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Consolation of Philosophy

At this point in the semester (or quarter) it is useful to think about what sorts of things one can do that will help one remain engaged and enthused in the classroom. Just when our energy is running low, so is our student's. Here is something I do to revitalize.

I pick some philosophy to read - just for myself - that has nothing whatsoever to do with my own research or with what I'm currently doing in the classroom. It feels like a guilty pleasure. But it really helps me in the classroom. It reminds me of what I love about philosophy and teaching philosophy. Recently I've been reading up on the Absurd, and I also purchased a book on Epictetus by Long. Neither of these topics has anything to do with 18th century philosophy of mind, or with the courses I'm teaching. But being as worn out as one gets at this point in the year, I don't expect I can do much research now anyway. Might as well indulge my philosophical curiosity.


  1. I like to do the same thing, and for the same reasons. Though it does not matter greatly to me if this does not occur, I often am able to use a new illustration or add something to what I'm teaching based on what I'm reading, and this helps keep things fresh for me. I also have to remind myself that even though I've heard what I'm about to say too many times to count, it will be new to most of my students. As Becko pointed out, it reminds me why I love philosophy, and that I'm fortunate to have this job!

  2. Agreed. I think it's good to stretch your legs a bit philosophically from time to time. The same goes for teaching too: Next quarter I'm teaching a 'Great Philosophers' course on Spinoza and Leibniz: definitely a stretch for me.

    And in the spirit of Becko's suggestion, perhaps people would like to suggest some philosophical reading that they've enjoyed recently so we can get a list of good leg (mind?) stretchers? I found Roy Sorenson's A Brief History of the Paradox to be a lot of fun.


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