A Ku Indeed!

Racism and Emotion Again

Posted in Course Material, Life by Chris on January 31, 2008

I posted on this earlier (on Hursthouse and Confucius), but I want to pose the question in a more simplified form, because the main question might have gotten lost in the complexities of that post. Here’s the situation: imagine that you were raised in a culture of racism. You have gotten older and have disavowed those beliefs, but you find that it is incredibly difficult to “wipe out” the years of “training” you were subjected to while growing up. When you see a black person, you feel emotions that are oriented towards the training you received. You feel repulsion at the sight of an interracial couple, or fear when faced with blacks, or whatever.  You don’t act on those feelings, but try as you might, you can’t seem (beyond some initial successes) to get rid of them. You are ashamed that you have them, but still they crop up much to your shame and embarassment. Now the question:




Posted in Life by Chris on January 30, 2008

I’m a Lost junkie. Last summer I was introduced to it (my wife too). We watched the whole season one in a single week. Needless to say, I’m anxiously awaiting season four’s premiere tomorrow. What will happen? Will they really get off the island? Will part of the season take place off the island? Who are the freighter people? Who is Jacob? Is Ben a good guy? Will Jack ever stop acting so righteous? Is Wet Walt coming back?

Ah, questions, questions. And something tells me that we’ll be getting no answers.

Kennedy on Clinton

Posted in Politics by Chris on January 29, 2008

Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama over Clinton. I immediately read it as politics — he thought he was joining up with the winning team. But who knows. One thing I will say is that I never would have suggested that it was due to Kennedy being anti-woman. I still don’t think it. But some do, apparently…


Confucius and Hursthouse on Luck, Racism and Virtue

Posted in Analects, China, Chinese Philosophy, Course Material, Ethics by Chris on January 28, 2008

In her 2001 book On Virtue Ethics, Rosalind Hursthouse uses the situation of racism (pp. 113 – 119) to discuss a few points about virtue that wants to make clear. Her main target is emotion’s relationship with virtue (and her secondary target is the rational and non-rational faces of emotion). Specifically, she argues that since virtues (and vices) are (at least) emotional dispositions directed towards (their appropriate) states of affairs in the world, the presence of race-tainted emotions in a person is sufficient to claim that the agent lacks (full) virtue.  (more…)

Cloverfield — A Bit Shaky

Posted in Life, Miscellaneous by Chris on January 28, 2008

Christie and I went to see Cloverfield last night. Not surprisingly, we differed in our take on it. She loved the first half, and then seemed to quickly get bored (“no story” she said). I said that she mistook “the story” as being about a bunch of people when it was really about the big 500 ft. thing rampaging through New York. She said that she basically didn’t get the genre in that case. All in all, she gave it 3 stars (out of 5). I’d give it 4 out of 5, as a monster movie. I’m an old monster movie buff, and I appreciated the originality (I realize that Blair Witch is the first to do the “held camera” style, but I think they do a better job of it here).

(Spoilers below, don’t open if you don’t want to read)


Kierkegaard Still Has Followers

Posted in Existentialism, Life by Chris on January 27, 2008

A modern day Kierkegaard in the making? Here’s an interesting story about a self-professed Christian who has become frustrated with organized religion, specifically the organized religion of the right. He wrote a book about it, suggesting that Christianity in its modern form is too oriented towards herd-thinking (my term, not his) and a “go-along-to-get-along” (his words) mindset.


Ni Hao, Kai-lan!

Posted in China, Life by Chris on January 26, 2008

15davi6001.jpgMy wife brought my attention to a cool show that the “Nick Jr” channel (aimed at small children — of which we have one ) will be starting soon, called Ni Hao, Kai-lan. It’s a really great concept (article from the New York Times here). The animated shows strives hard to actually stress bilingual presentation of content (shifting between English and Mandarin). Whereas some shows — like Dora the Explorer — try to teach children a few words here and there in other languages, they are pretty much conducted 99% in English.


Will the Real Confucius Please Stand Up?

Posted in Analects, China, Chinese Philosophy, Course Material, Pedagogy by Chris on January 24, 2008

Over at The Useless Tree and at Frog in a Well there’s a discussion about how to approach the teaching of Confucius. Since I’m teaching two courses dealing with Confucius this semester (one is a basic ethics course fitting in Confucius for a few weeks, while the other is a full semester seminar just on Confucianism), I figured I’d put up a post on it. There are two basic (and related issues) at work. One is the fact that the Analects is most certainly an accretion — the text was not all written at the same time and so was put together over a period, some stretching far after Confucius. So the question “Who is Confucius?” is an obvious one. The second is whether a text should be presented within its cultural and historical context.


Who Really Controls the Classroom?

Posted in Pedagogy by Chris on January 23, 2008

(cross-posted at In Socrates’ Wake)

Today in one of my classes I made an observation. I suggested that whether the class, as a whole, turned out to be good or not really depended in large part on how engaged the students in that class decided to be. If the class was quiet, or uninvolved, the class wouldn’t be so good. If they spoke and talked to one another, it would be really good and fun. Some of that depends on the teacher setting this up the right way, setting a good tone, and so on. But some is all on the shoulders of the student, and his/her own attitude towards learning, or towards education.


Goodbye Fred, We Barely Knew Ye

Posted in Life, Politics by Chris on January 22, 2008

As is being reported, Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. But seriously, was he ever really in the race? Forget what you think of the guy politically — he had to be the most lackluster, lazy, and boring candidate I’ve ever seen in a presidential race. For all of the hype he generated before he declared (which seemed to take forever, I guess we know why now), he fizzled so fast it made even his most ardent supporters’ heads spin. It seemed to literally pain the guy to campaign. Too bad, though. I was hoping to get another look at that famous red truck of his.

Update: Hey…! This Newsweek article that came out after this post stole my headline!! What’s up with that? Thief!

Aw Shuck, Huck

Posted in Life, Politics by Chris on January 21, 2008

In my earlier post criticizing Huckabee’s support for the Confederate flag, I surmised that he was appealing to racism through the use of what some consider standard play-book ‘code’ – instead of talking about race directly, you signal your intentions through talk about ‘state’s rights’ or about the ‘pride of the flag.’ Well, it gets worse for the Huck. Apparently, in the past he has not had any qualms about speaking at conventions run by white supremacists.

As someone in a comment to my earlier post put it: “This guy is toast. Sooner or later, no one will (as the movie puts it) heart Huckabee.” (See below for link claiming to rebut the story)


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We’re All Liars?

Posted in Course Material, Ethics, Values Analysis by Chris on January 21, 2008

Well, that’s what this article suggests. The gig is up — no one is honest! My favorite quote from the piece: “In the abstract, it’s very easy to say, ‘Oh, we value honesty, and you should never lie,'” says DePaulo. But “sometimes in our real lives, our valuing of honesty clashes with something else we also value, like wanting to be gracious or kind or compassionate.” Of course it’s easy to think that in ‘the real world’ honesty can clash with such virtues. But does it, really? Or is it that in the ‘real world’ we just like to make our lives easier by saying that it does? Is, in the famous example, telling a person “no, you don’t look fat in that dress” really demanded by compassion?

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