Category Archives: Philosophy

Reflection on a First-Year Professorship: An Experiment in Allowing Students to Choose Texts

This is the first of a number of reflections I hope to do on my first year as a professor of philosophy.  As of right now, I am through the first semester.  It’s been an interesting experience, to say the absolute least.  I don’t mean that simply in terms of outcomes of pedagogical experiments or common experiences of student discontent with grades, but also political and administrative stuff in addition. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Pedagogy, Personal, Philosophy

Moving into a Professorship in Philosophy and Some Thoughts on Class Structure

A little bit unusual for my blog, I am posting a personal update, which may interest various people for various reasons.  This next year should be a rather interesting year in my intellectual development: I have taken a post as adjunct professor of philosophy at one of the United States’ largest community college, the Community College of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, PA —a seven-campus college.  I will be at the main campus, the Allegheny Campus.  Since Indiana University’s Department of History and Philosophy of Science doesn’t grant undergraduate degrees, teaching assignments for graduate students are scarce with so few in-department undergraduate courses, especially for grads in their first two years, I felt it important that I find and take on, at the very least, a one-year appointment as a lecturer, hence the desire to take on an adjunct professorship.  Teaching is an important part of the academician’s craft as a whole.  Continue reading

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Between Feynman in Babylon and Metaphysics: What the Mathematical Process and the History of Science Can Tell Us Philosophically about the Education Process

Since I have spent the summer studying mathematics at Harvard University with Jameel Al-Aidroos (Ph.D Berkeley), expect that my next few posts, or at least some of them, will be on topics related to mathematics.  I want to take some time, in this blog post, to look at where mathematical thought fits into some of my understandings of I have gleaned from studying the history of science.  The upshot of the historical, philosophical, and mathematical content and musings will be pedagogical, just to give the reader some idea of where I am going.  An important thing to understand, before reading this post, is the distinction between pure and applied mathematics.  “Pure mathematics,” as opposed to “applied mathematics,” is, in its essence, math for its own sake, entirely apart from possible applications.  In many cases, pure mathematics initially has no known application.  Additionally, pure mathematics deals with abstract entities that have been detached from particular entities —and this will prove to be important to what I will say later.

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Filed under Education, History and Philosophy of Science, History of Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Philosophy of Mathematics

A Philosophical Thought on the Oasis of Life on Mt. Pisgah

If I am not careful, I am going to begin sounding like my friend, Matt Segall —not a bad thing, just this blog post’s content is more his forte than it is my typical fare.  I was recently hiking Mt. Pisgah, which is in North Carolina, and I was struck by some ideas; dualities in reflection, mostly.  Near the top of the craggy trail, which is hardly “moderate,” as at least one website claimed, I chanced upon a tree and shrubbery-like growth that looked like something out of a movie. Continue reading

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Filed under Eastern Philosophy, Personal, Philosophy, Pure Philosophy, Science

Feynman on the Necessity of Philosophy for the Progress of Physics

Serendipity often leads to some of our most fruitful realizations, creative ideas, and understanding —and are even responsible for our most citation-worthy bits of supporting information.  Such is the case to be discussed here.  It so happened that, just after writing the blog in response to Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ignorant position on philosophy, I read Richard P. Feynman’s The Character of Physical Law to unwind.  The Nobel laureate was always notoriously, even devilishly, anti-philosophy. Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Philosophy, Physics, Popular Science, Science

Neil deGrasse Tyson and Philosophy: The Voice and Never-Was of Science Insults the Foundation of All Intellectual Thought

The primary problem with putting anyone on any kind of pedestal is that the positioning in the spotlight contains quite a bit of power, power that can be misused or abused.  Anyone possessing the spokespersonship of a particular academic discipline, in promoting their discipline, as a rule, should never knock other disciplines.  Rather unfortunately, Neil deGrasse Tyson occupies one such position as a science advisor to the government and a science popular, and he has also misused (abused?) his position by knocking another discipline, philosophy.  During a podcast that featured his presence, he spoke condescendingly of philosophy, spoke of its uselessness, and pointed out that it can ‘mess you up,’ presumably, meaning to say that philosophy can adversely affect the general mode of one’s thinking.  (For the complete podcast, click on this sentence.)  The objective in this blog is to address some of what Tyson has said, and hence partly a work of philosophy apologetics to a certain extent, but I also want to besmudge his reputation a bit, as he is in serious need of deflating —and I think the reader will find that very little needs to be done to each either of these ends, just a bit of thought.

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Filed under Philosophy, Popular Science

On Argumentation in the Mind-Body Dualism Debate and Mike A. Robinson

There is a fellow by the name of Mike A. Robinson running about and self-publishing just about everything he writes, blogging the rest.  I have yet to find, within the expanse of his writings, anything that is particularly good or well informed.  I stumbled upon one of his blog postings, entitled “The Brain and the Mind Are Not Identical,” and I felt it was closely enough related to my last blog post that I should comment on it.  Originally, my intention was to demonstrate how assumptions made by any side of a debate, such as the free-will/determinism and soul/no-soul debates, make it unlikely that we will ever have a clear and definitive answer; but this blog has turned into a review of Mike A. Robinson, as an author.  I cannot recommend avoiding his writings enough.

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Filed under Cognitive Science, Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind