In this class we have to survey about 2500 years of philosophical thinking and I find it is easier to manage this with a theme in mind. For this particular class I have chosen Self-Knowledge as a guiding principle to help us relate to the variety of texts we will be reading. One of the questions we will be asking is, why it is that self-knowledge as self-care was so crucial to the ancient thinkers but disappears in the modern discourse.
Counts towards fulfillment of Area 2 of General Education.
This seminar is year-long
From the teacher:
What is distinctive about your teaching style? My classes are usually discussion based except when I see a need to fill in missing historical information. The focus of the discussions is the primary texts we are reading, all of which are challenging and at times difficult to decipher. We sometimes forget that it is not best to measure texts that were written a long time ago by whatever is the current fad. So, I am always interested in learning from you what you can get out of these texts once you shed your contemporary blinders.
What is distinctive about the way you teach this class? I would like to think that my approach to teaching these texts is open-minded, i.e., I do not push my interpretations but I am open to new readings and new questions that students can offer. I am always most proud when students mention in their evaluations that they do not know what I believe or think. In that sense I am following Socrates who never pushed his own opinions but instead provided the opportunity for his interlocutors to examine what exactly they believed and questioned them about whether they were willing to live on the basis of these beliefs. If I can believe my students' assessments of what is distinctive about my teaching, I would also have to mention that I am one of funniest people alive. The comments I get on most of my student evaluations is: very knowledgeable and extremely funny.
What do you like best about teaching undergrads? The most rewarding experience of teaching undergrads, in particular "freshpeople," is their gift of being genuinely surprised when they have an "Aha experience." With upper class and graduate students there is often the self-imposed expectation that nothing should be surprising, because we have thought about all these things before, because we are, after all, very sophisticated. In contrast, newcomers to the field of philosophy are genuinely puzzled by some of the questions and the proposed answers offered by the philosophers, to the point of letting these thoughts become life-changing experiences.