In my opinion, Lun Yu 11.4 is one of the simplest and most straightforward passages in the Confucian text. It reads: “The Master said, ‘Hui! He is of no help to me! He agrees with everything I say!” Yup. Seemingly simple, straightforward and clear. But yet most commentators don’t think that it say what it seems to say. Philosophers! Leave it to them to muddy the clear waters on make murky what was obvious. Well, I’m not complaining. That’s how I make my bacon too. But in this instance, I just gotta disagree!
For all of my classes, please see the announcements below the fold regarding midterms and tests/papers.
As some of you know, I’ve been slaving away for months nonstop on a book manuscript (Existentialism for Dummies — yeah, that series). Today was the final deadline from the publisher, and it is DONE. I can’t express the relief. It’s been fun, but at the same time it’s been an intense amount of work. I feel like the last 9 months of my life weren’t my own. I think my daughter and wife are looking forward to me rejoining the family again. I’m looking forward to getting the edits back in a month and then having this puppy all wrapped up by the end of May, and maybe at that point I can not just rejoin the family, but the rest of my life too.
A student in my Confucian Virtue Ethics class today asked an interesting question about modern American culture in the context of ancient Confucianism. Specifically, he wanted to know if American culture was in any way a “shame” (ch’ih) culture (as the ancient Chinese culture was), or if it was primarily a “guilt” (tsui) culture.
So Hillary just couldn’t stay out of it. She had to say it. I knew it was coming. She said that if Jeremiah Wright had been her pastor, she would have quit that church at the start. Somehow I suspect that Clinton’s understanding of race issues in America is pretty nuanced and sophisticated. Her comment does not express that. Which makes this, in my opinion, pure cynical politics at its worst.
Boo on you, Hillary. Boo.
For believe me! — the secret of realizing the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment of existence is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships out into uncharted seas!
I always took him to be speaking metaphorically. But obviously, some people take this sort of thing literally. Well, not the Vesuvius part, but close enough.
One of my students in my Confucius class asked today an interesting question: How does Confucius explain bad behavior, thinking specifically in terms of the role of modeling in the Analects when it comes to cheng (correction). Now, it is clear that Confucius thinks that good people tend to draw others into the “orbit” (Analect 2.1) of their jen, this leading them to become good as well (or at least to start on the road towards it) as a result of imitation (Analect 12.19 is perhaps a clear expression of this, but there are many others textual spots as well). As a result, when a person’s particular focus or virtue (te) is great (they are exemplary in their pursuit of personal cultivation), such will the effect of their te on others. But what about the bad folks? What explains them?
One of my graduated advisees is presently in the middle of waiting for responses to all of his applications for entry into Ph.D. programs for philosophy. He recently brought my attention to a “Grad School Admissions Wiki” that helps students (in all fields) to learn when others have been admitted to certain schools (or rejected, or wait-listed). The Grad School Wiki basically tries to get hopeful applicants information faster than they typically tend to get it from the schools themselves (by compiling information submitted from applicants themselves). It also seems to function as a support system, and also has forums dealing with many questions regarding the whole process. Go below the fold for more information on it.
I’ve got to admit — Facebook holds no interest for me anymore. It pretty seriously “jumped the shark” a while ago for me. There was a time when I thought it was interesting, but it just strikes me as intensely boring now. As a result, I don’t write about it here anymore. But…I saw this article at CNN on a student who was almost expelled due to “Facebook cheating” and I figured I toss up a post on it. It pretty clearly seem to me like an open and shut case of outright cheating to me, but apparently many are debating whether it really is cheating. Read the article — I’m curious to know what you think.
I love Dunkin Donuts coffee, so sometimes my thought experiments often tend to incorporate the store. In this case, my thought experiment is about pedagogy. Now, on the one hand I love talking about pedagogy, because I love to teach and because I find the investigation of the relationship between the teacher and the student to be an interesting (if not complex) one. But on the other hand, these damn thought experiments never seem to work out correctly, and just never seem to perfect map on to what you want. Ah well. This time I’m wondering what the proper responsibilities of an instructor are with respect to his/her students. Get a donut, and check below the fold.