As is our habit, do treat this as a semi-open weekend thread. And as always do feel free to share interesting matters, topics, or information of public or private concern.
Philosophy is "love of wisdom".
Ideally, philosophy should be applied as a means of improving the human condition.
The question becomes, how does one live such a life?
Moreover, how can we work towards the Common Good through the pursuit of knowledge, and the development of a proper ethical framework, while also learning how to be better and more critical thinkers?
I was asked to teach an introduction to political theory and philosophy course this past quarter. Theory is one of the areas I enjoy--although I would never pass myself off as an expert beyond a niche interest in "democratic theory" and "power"--so I knew that I could do something passable akin to the Introduction to Political Thought class that I took while an undergraduate.
The course was interesting. It was more of a success than a failure. I did not have an Obi-wan who believes he can teach Anakin better than Yoda moment. Such an avoidance of disaster is all that I ask for in such situations.
However, I am still struck by how few students, many of which are about to graduate, have never been exposed to any of the foundational thinkers in the Western canon (Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, Smith, Rousseau, Mill, etc.) that would qualify a person as being "educated". I have taught at a range of institutions. The problem is less worse at the elite schools, but seems to be pretty common at the decent to good mid-tier institutions that most students will attend.
[I also noticed a clear stratification in preparation. There were several students who attended good if not elite high schools who had a familiarity with the thinkers we were grappling with in class. Other students would have had no idea what or who we were talking about before class began. This is very troubling for the future of American democracy. The myth of meritocracy and upward mobility is exposed once again. Our public schools are contributing to the creation of American feudalism.]
I ask and challenge the students, "how can you be a good citizen and live a fulfilled and reflective life, if you have not grappled with critical thinking and 'big ideas?'" Most have no answer. They sit, looking embarrassed.
Yes, a broken economy and other priorities are part of this problem. Yes, the rise of S.T.E.M. and standardized testing has robbed many students of the ability to be anything more than technicians, robots, and human drones who feed the maw of hyper-capitalism and the 1 percent.
But, there has to be another way. Am I that wrong and misguided?
I am curious as to your thoughts on happiness.
Aristotle suggested that happiness is:
the function of man is to live a certain kind of life, and this activity implies a rational principle, and the function of a good man is the good and noble performance of these, and if any action is well performed it is performed in accord with the appropriate excellence: if this is the case, then happiness turns out to be an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.What makes you happy?