Friday, October 29, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"I mean, how much can you really say about ice melting?”

And you think reading Thoreau is tough? Teaching Thoreau is tough. Check it out:
Note to Educators. Thoreau, one of America's most important and inspiring philosophers, can be tough to teach. It's not easy to dispel his stereotypes as a curmudgeon and hermit, or else a nature-gazing cloud-head, when you have only a few classes in which to present his works and thoughts.
  • Worse yet, the opening chapters of Walden can be seriously off-putting to many students. Better to choose among the more subtle and eloquent chapters, like "The Pond in Winter" or "Former Inhabitants" or "Spring," for an introductory assignment.
  • But which chapters always turn up in the anthologies? The off-putting ones.
    Click here to read astounding examples of student reactions.]

Be sure to read the essay at:

My favorite student reaction:

“The things this dude said made absolutely no sense [and] we get to see what neurosis plagued his diseased mind…. Pages upon pages of vivid description about scenery, the little fighting ants, the whippor-whill, the squirrels under the floorboards, the bees … how they infested his cozy little shack … what do we care about his pests in nature? I mean, how much can you really say about ice melting?”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Groundhog day college student edition

I know the Groundhog day movie showing was more than a week ago but I wanted to share a more college-student version of it in the show 'The tatami galaxy', which is 11 episodes long and can be streamed on youtube here:

I found it interesting, especially in that the protagonist deems various 'campus lives' unfulfilling, similar to how the repetitions of Groundhog day are unfulfilling until Phil accomplishes the 'perfectionist' day and breaks out of the cycle. The show has a bit of a twist ending that deviates a little from Groundhog day's message, and it seems to suggest that one of the most morally valuable factors is 'keeping promises'--the protagonist does some pretty morally questionable stuff, which don't seem as significant as the unfulfilled promise.

Warning: it's subtitled, which can be frustrating since the protagonist speaks extremely quickly. Also, there's some questionable stuff like walls of breasts (it's hard to explain) and interaction with a sex doll (it's not graphic, but still a little disturbing). The show is generally trippy and bizarre, but I recommend it.

Possible publishing opportunity

This may be of more interest than the previous one! anyone thinking of a third paper could actually get it published.
Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal

Deadline: Friday, December 17, 2010

Stance seeks reviews of monographs, anthologies, and secondary sources in any area of Philosophy. Reviews may be 750-1000 words. Books reviewed must be currently in print and not part of public domain. Stance prefers reviews of books used in a class the reviewer is currently taking or has recently completed.

-Review authors must currently be undergraduates
-Reviews should be (i) double-spaced (including quotations, excerpts, and footnotes), (ii) in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format, and (iii) sent as an attachment to
-To facilitate our anonymous review process, submissions are to be prepared for blind review. Include a cover page with the author's name, affiliation, title, and email address. Papers, including footnotes, should have no other identifying markers.
-Footnotes should be kept to a minimum and follow Chicago Manual of Style. For more on proper footnoting see “Footnote Style” at
-Please use American spellings and punctuation, except when directly quoting a source that has followed British style.

People read book reviews to discover if they want to read a particular book. As such, a good book review provides a quick overview of the main ideas in the text. Also helpful is an account of how the book fits into or engages an on going philosophical debate. While not required, a compare and contrast approach can be useful to demonstrate both the main ideas and unique positioning of a book.

An overview for a book review is good when it is broad and concise, including all and only the main points of the text. A good book review evaluates the text and deploys an argument regarding how successful the book is in achieving its goals. This may, but need not, involve substantive disagreement with the argumentation found in the text. Many reviews will be best when they (i) begin with any important background information (e.g. author biography), (ii) provide a summary of the contents of the book, and (iii) end with the reviewer’s evaluation.
The voice in book reviews must be obvious; readers should easily differentiate between the ideas of the book’s author from those of the reviewer. Book reviews for Stance should be accessible to the widest audience possible without sacrificing clarity or rigor. Avoid unnecessary technical or elevated language.

If anyone's interested, let me know, and I will try to help. They are also looking for full-length essays between 1500 and 3500 words, info is on the website as well.

Friday, October 22, 2010


in case any of you are planning on writing really good third papers:

CFP on Eudaimonia and Virtue

Call for Papers
Eudaimonia and Virtue: Rethinking the Good Life
University of Miami, February 25th-27th, 2011
Many ancient philosophers argued that our thinking and behavior should be grounded in a conception of eudaimonia, or human flourishing and virtue, instead of, for example, a hedonistic conception of happiness or a subjective conception of well-being. A growing number of contemporary psychologists and philosophers think that there is something deeply correct about this general eudaimonist approach, even if we may not fully accept all of the specific arguments and views propounded, for example, by Aristotle and the Stoics. 

This conference is intended to bring together philosophers and psychologists who are interested in developing a contemporary eudaimonist approach and in discussing how to best appropriate Ancient views. The conference will focus primarily on theory – to discusss what conception of eudaimonia we should accept, what we can and cannot accept in Ancient accounts of eudaimonia, the relation of eudaimonia to morality, virtue, happiness, meaning, and well-being, and the prospects for future eudaimonia scholarship.  There will also be a secondary, but active interest in empirical investigations of eudaimonia.
We are pleased to announce that the invited speakers will include some of the leading eudaimonia scholars from both psychology and philosophy, including Michael Slote, Eric Brown, Dan Haybron, Talbot Brewer, Alan Waterman, Joar Vitterso, and Corey Keyes,
We invite the submission of papers exploring issues like the ones mentioned above and welcome any interested individuals to attend and join the discussion.
Submitted papers should have either a reading time of 20 minutes with 10 minutes for discussion, or a reading time of 40 minutes with 20 minutes for discussion, and be submitted by email by December 15th, 2010. Submissions and inquiries should be sent to
Further information about the conference is available if you click here.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Meaning of Groundhog Day

Nice article at An excerpt:
Since its debut a decade ago, the film has become a curious favorite of religious leaders of many faiths, who all see in "Groundhog Day" a reflection of their own spiritual messages. Curators of the series, polling some 35 critics in the literary, religious and film worlds to suggest films with religious interpretations, found that "Groundhog Day" came up so many times that there was actually a squabble over who would write about it in the retrospective's catalog.
Harold Ramis, the director of the film and one of its writers, said last week that since it came out he has heard from Jesuit priests, rabbis and Buddhists, and that the letters keep coming. "At first I would get mail saying, 'Oh, you must be a Christian, because the movie so beautifully expresses Christian belief,' " Mr. Ramis said during a conversation on his mobile phone as he was walking the streets of Los Angeles. "Then rabbis started calling from all over, saying they were preaching the film as their next sermon. And the Buddhists! Well, I knew they loved it, because my mother-in-law has lived in a Buddhist meditation center for 30 years and my wife lived there for 5 years."
There's also an interview with Harold Ramis on Youtube at

Friday, October 15, 2010

three cheeseburgers...

Phil, finally fed up, breaks the chains that bind his predictable life and makes his own choices. Phil thought it was a good idea to drive...and do the talking. He made decisions that gave us a real funny clip. I don't recommend trying this at home (or anywhere for that matter.) I do recommend posting your favorite clip and sharing in some laughter straight from Punxsutawney!

Ethics is ultimately all about Choices

Thursday, October 7, 2010

For the love of poetry

the scene from Dead Poets Society that I mentioned in class today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The ethics of love vs. the ethics of duty

for your listening pleasure:

an ethical dilemma occurs at 4:32. The ethics of duty kicks in at 7:03.