If you’ve been reading along with any consistency, you’ll notice the power-down in the last two weeks. Sorry about that! I’m basically in the midst of being ‘superwhelmed’ (not a word, but overwhelmed doesn’t seem to quite capture the situation). Greg and I finally got our book contract (a book on Existentialism) and we’re under a lot of pretty intense deadlines. On top of that, I’m giving a conference talk later this week (with my wife, on establishing empirical proof for differences in perspective taking strategies between Eastern-Confucians and Westerners). Of course, I’ve also got my usual teaching duties and grading to do, and I’m up for tenure this year, so there’s the portfolio, letters to type out for it, and so on. Oh boy. Time to get back to work!
I’ll likely be back to regular blogging in a week or so.
So I went to see Van Halen up at the new Sprint Center in Kansas City with Greg Renoff on Friday night. It was a good time, but it was weird. I’m watching this band play and I keep saying to myself, “goddamn, last time I saw this band in concert was 1984.” Yeah, like twenty three years ago. It’s hard to come to grips with getting older at times like this. I don’t feel like I’m old enough to have seen a band twenty three years ago. But it’s true. Saw them in Madison Square Garden (or the Meadowlands, I can’t remember), in New York City in 1984.
We just finished the problem of free will in Classic Problems. And we talked about free will today in conjunction with Kant’s ethics in Values Analysis. In honor of the topic (and especially for my Values students who might be having a hard time getting their heads around the issue), here’s an interesting cartoon introduction to the whole problem of free will from Waking Life. Enjoy!
(Film below the jump)
When it comes to non-exemplary student behavior, I think I’m a pretty tolerant professor. Most students don’t fall into the “problem” category, but some do — it’s inevitable. Much as students think you don’t see them or what they are doing, I can see when people aren’t paying attention, or doodling, writing notes to each other even reading a book for another class. My general motto is this: if you aren’t being public about your bad behavior, I won’t make a big deal out of it.
But sometimes people do make a public spectacle out of what they are doing. And that’s where my tolerance ends.
My wife and I hosted the visiting professor from Tsinghua University and his wife this weekend at our home (they slept over and we went to a local festival the next day). It was an interesting experience replete with all sorts of cultural differences. But before I talk about it, I want to tell a seeming unrelated story.
My wife and daughter wound up in the Springfield News-Leader today in a photo taken at Apple Butter Makin’ Days (the festival held yearly in my town). To find them, click here and then go to photo 7.
They got my wife’s name wrong — it’s Christie not Christine. Whenever her name winds up in print they always print it wrong in some way. She also looks a little mad, but she claims she was pulling apart the thing she was eating (can’t tell what that was). My daughter looks pretty happy, though.
UPDATE: Christie says she was pulling fat off a rib sandwich.
This has nothing to do with philosophy whatsoever (except insofar as philosophers tend to love Monty Python). But this is too damn funny. Who has the time to put this stuff together? If my students are reading this, I have no doubt that they will have no idea what Monty Python is (sadly). Nevertheless, for those of you born before 1980, enjoy the video below the jump and click the link below it if for endless scenes from the Holy Grail done in total Lego.
So last night, as some of you know, my wife and I had Peter Buck (the guitarist from R.E.M) over our house. He’s been dating a good friend of Christie’s for a few years now, and they were driving cross country and scheduled a stop by dinner at our house. I’ll admit it — I expected him to be an a diva (if you remember the British Airways situation years ago you know what I mean). I mean hell — the guy is a multi-multi millionaire, is in the Rock and Roll hall of fame, and spends much of his time with 50,000 people holding up lit lighters to him. But I was totally wrong.
For many years, China refused to acknowledge the existence of those in their country with special needs — specifically, the mentally handicapped. This is a sad truth about China that will, hopefully, change. Here in this story, we see some evidence for a shift in perspective, given China’s hosting of the Special Olympics.
It seems like such an obvious truth, a tautology essentially, to suggest that the mentally handicapped are people too, and that they need to be acknowledged and welcomed in the human community with open arms. It seems so evident that it lacks humanity – and actively diminishes it – to do otherwise.
Today in class we were discussing the fact that a virtue ethicist (specifically Confucius) would likely not try a child as an adult, mostly for one key reason: children are not capable of full moral being, given two factors: (a) they do not have settled traits of character that allow them to see and feel the world in terms of ethics and (b) they are not old enough, even if they have such traits, to understand what it is that they are seeing or feeling. Thus, although it’s necessary to have the right training (which kids are in the process of getting, but don’t have as of yet), it’s not sufficient, because the person needs to understand why these dispositions are admirable ones to have.
Dr. Ray from Dr. 90120 just doesn’t seem that Confucian to me. He does martial arts and he likes to think that he’s a follower of (some kind of) Eastern thought, but I’m skeptical that he could cut it with the Master. I’ll try to briefly outline why.
The question of the ethical nature of elective cosmetic surgery has always interested me. One of the main reason is that I just find the practice bizarre, if not repulsive, so I’d like to understand my own intuitions here. After all, such people aren’t “hurting” anyone, are they?
There’s a great post up at Bainbridge on “trophy wives.” It’s a short post that outlines an apparent ad that was put out on Craig’s List by a woman looking for a rich husband, and then a reply from a rich guy (or at least someone claiming to be) saying why she isn’t going to get what she’s looking for (or at least that she wasn’t what he was looking for). It’s funny in the sort of “is this what it’s come to?” kind of way. Basically, for those of you out there that think it’s fine to see others as merely tools (vessels in Confucianism), this is where that viewpoint leads with respect to relationships.
Go read it, it’s the perfect combination of sad and funny all at once.
To my younger students: is this the way your dating world is? Say it ain’t so!