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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

APA CONNECT- General Discussion Digest for January 7/8, 2019.

American Philosophical Association


Richard Bett
Jan 7, 2019 1:42 PM
Richard Bett
Which new subfields are emerging as important; which traditional subfields are dead or dying; and which established subfields can be expected to remain of enduring importance? 

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Richard Bett
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore MD


Ayao Zanou
Jan 8, 2019 12:51 PM
Ayao Zanou
There is one theory emerging in biology but it could spread into philosophy. It is quantum biology and British thinkers are leading the field. I see it very interesting because it could explain great questions which remain unsolved in philosophy. It offers a new perspective to apprehend major tough questions in philosophy as well as in biology.

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Ayao Zanou
Beginner
The Village OK
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2.Re: What led you to philosophy?
E. Macierowski
Jan 7, 2019 1:26 PM
E. Macierowski
The question "What led you to philosophy?" has at least two dimensions, many of which are out of our control. My parents told me that my first words were in Polish and that they were the questions (1) "What is that?" and (2) "Who is that?" This quest continued. In first year algebra when I was told that the a, the b, and the x could stand for various numbers, I recall some disappointment at my teacher's response to my question, "What is a number?" I was assured that the answer would come in higher mathematics and felt somehow strange being "successful" in manipulating symbols without knowing what I was doing or what I was talking about. At the Classical High School my English teacher called my attention to modern linguistics and to a book by Alfred Korzybski, "Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics" and another by the rather Aristotelian dialectician Mortimer J. Adler "How to Read a Book." I learned more about civic responsibility than Latin from reading Cicero's orations and was deeply moved by reading Jowett's English version of Plato's Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. In those days it was possible to develop a home chemistry laboratory that today would draw attention from security services rather than wonder at chemical wizardry from neighborhood children. Outside the public school, I was exposed to watered-down versions of Aquinas's five ways to prove the existence of God in extracurricular religion classes. Having skimmed through every college catalogue in the main public library, I found what looked to me like a coherent plan of study at St. John's College in Annapolis. It became clear, however, that some sort of graduate study would be needed after graduation if I was to make a living; I was the only person in my family to pursue studies in college and knew little, if anything, about advancing a career or prioritizing.
There I found in Euclid and Dedekind efforts to answer the question of number, decided to take Greek and French more seriously than I had taken Latin in high school, and embarked upon four years of seminar discussions on major books and four years of laboratory work recapitulating key moments in the scientific tradition. Two people there were of particular importance for my development: Jacob Klein, whose preceptorial I took on Plato's Sophist and Statesman, and Leo Strauss, who during my senior year offered a public seminar on Xenophon's Socratic writings. Strauss recalled having read as a lad a Latin translation of Avicenna's treatise on the division of the sciences the claim that the standard treatise on prophecy was Plato's "Laws." This strange sentence was unforgettable. Klein interrogated me about my plans for after graduation; when I mentioned classical philosophy, he replied, "Philosophy? Academically? It will corrupt you." Of the available options in the States and abroad, I headed for the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, where Avicenna figured prominently through Latin translations on medieval philosophy. Its founder, Etienne Gilson was still giving annual lectures. I studied Arabic and served as research assistant to Michael E. Marmura, who provided the first English version of Avicenna's Metaphysics. Father Joseph Owens, the author of "The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics", supervised my dissertation, where I compared the Iranian philosopher Avicenna with St. Thomas Aquinas on the origin of the world. Since then, my questioning has had two foci: the meaning of being and the best political order.
In short, for me there are two basic answers to the question "What led you to philosophy?": like every human being, I had and have a yearning to know the truth; unlike many, I was lucky to have found people I could learn from.


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E. Macierowski
Professor
Benedictine College
Atchison KS
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-------------------------------------------
Original Message:
Sent: 01-03-2019 15:55
From: Laurie Shrage
Subject: What led you to philosophy?

What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation?

I started college as an art and French major at UC Davis, where for a brief time I studied with the sculptor Robert Arneson. Perhaps my interests in French culture led me to take a course from Marjorie Grene on Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. I lacked all forms of intellectual sophistication, and remember sitting in Grene's office asking questions about "Ponty," and Grene would lean over her desk and look me directly in the eyes and say "Merleau-Ponty." I switched my major to Philosophy, because I thought it would be more practical than studying art and French! I also liked math in high school and the study of logic afforded the same pleasures without the risk of "social death," which a girl interested in math faced back then.  Although I found the books and courses in Philosophy often baffling, my Philosophy professors had the ability to look beyond the distracting details of an issue and raise the relevant and important questions. Philosophy allowed me to pursue many different kinds of interests, from the nature of art, feminist politics, the authority of science and religion, and so on. I didn't think about grad school until two of my classmates entered philosophy graduate programs, and they encouraged me to apply. I also didn't think much about what I would, or could, do with a Ph.D until, somewhere in the middle of grad school, I began to realize the opportunities that having an advanced degree opened up. I very much enjoyed the university environment and figured I would just keep on this track as long as I could, and I feel fortunate to have landed in a profession in which I can hang out with learned and intellectually curious, and occasionally irascible, colleagues and students.

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Laurie Shrage
Professor
Gainesville FL
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3.Re: What led you to philosophy?
Howard Callaway
Jan 7, 2019 1:27 PM
Howard Callaway
Philadelphia, PA

I came to philosophy from an interest in politics. Politics brought me to ethics, ethics brought me to epistemology, logic and philosophy of science. I was convinced that in order to settle political disputes, one needed to call on broader issues in philosophy. I eventually concentrated on philosophy of language and mind; and afterward I traveled and taught in Africa and in Europe. From such perspectives one comes to see how philosophy is linked to culture and cultures. Though it aspires to universality, often enough its a typical expression of particularities of various cultures. It is this connection to particularities of culture which eventually turned me away from highly formalist approaches. I believe that formal methods are of some importance, but that getting down to details is crucial in understanding the persistence of particular philosophical movements, schools or geographical varieties. This is a variety of empiricism though focused on the human world. 

H.G. Callaway 

 
------Original Message------

What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation?
May I ask and answer a slightly different question first? What led you to pursue philosophy? As an engineering-science major one of my teachers made a big fanfare about the importance of rigor and proof. Then he proceeded to take two 50-minute sessions to "prove" something previously taken for granted in the course. This made my painfully aware of the fact that I did not know what a proof is. That made a philosopher out of me, or made the philosopher in me come out.
As for your question, What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation? Even though I was pursuing a PhD in philosophy, I had no intention to be a philosophy teacher. I remember being asked what I was going to do with my degree and I did not understand the question. Anyway, a series of lucky accidents landed me in a tenure-track philosophy job. I do not recall ever choosing philosophy as a vocation.

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John Corcoran
Bradenton FL
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top
4.Re: What led you to philosophy?
D.R. Koukal
Jan 7, 2019 1:27 PM
D.R. Koukal
I was from a working-class family and had no college ambitions because I was an exceedingly average student in high school, this despite having a heavy reading habit. After graduation I wandered from job to job (fast food, camera retail, manual laborer, computer operations) until I discovered quite by accident Shimer College, a great books school in Illinois. "Great books" can mean many things, but for my purpose here let's just say you read a lot of everything. Of all the things I read philosophy spoke to me with a most singular voice, and I eventually became interested in the Frankfurt School. However, when I went to grad school (Duquesne, MA and PhD) a couple years after graduating Shimer I became even more interested in phenomenology and the rest is history. For me, teaching philosophy is the best job in the world.

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Professor of Philosophy
University of Detroit Mercy
4001 W. McNichols Road
Detroit, MI 48221-3038
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313.993.1138
koukaldr@udmercy.edu
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Ite inflammate omnia
- St. Ignatius of Loyola

  
------Original Message------

What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation?
May I ask and answer a slightly different question first? What led you to pursue philosophy? As an engineering-science major one of my teachers made a big fanfare about the importance of rigor and proof. Then he proceeded to take two 50-minute sessions to "prove" something previously taken for granted in the course. This made my painfully aware of the fact that I did not know what a proof is. That made a philosopher out of me, or made the philosopher in me come out.
As for your question, What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation? Even though I was pursuing a PhD in philosophy, I had no intention to be a philosophy teacher. I remember being asked what I was going to do with my degree and I did not understand the question. Anyway, a series of lucky accidents landed me in a tenure-track philosophy job. I do not recall ever choosing philosophy as a vocation.

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John Corcoran
Bradenton FL
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5.Re: What led you to philosophy?

Michael Kazanjian
Jan 7, 2019 1:27 PM
Michael Kazanjian
What led me to pursue philosophy? In elementary and high school I thought of three careers: the Presbyterian ministry; CIA or FBI; or aeronautical engineering. The ministry was out because I learned seminary had to follow a college degree (I thought a religion major in college and BA were sufficient). CIA and FBI were then out after I learned I had to travel from Chicago to the East Coast for training for either agency. And I was always a social science/humanities guy, never good in math, physics, chemistry; any engineering was out. In high school, I found myself asking why am I in chemistry lab and in lecture. Why in physics class and in lab? The 1961 MIT undergrad bulletin, answered my questions. Student "do" in labs, and in class they think about what they are doing. Someone told me those were questions in philosophy and philosophy of education. I also rejected the need for liberal arts. College changed that. My college admissions counselor suggested philosophy as a major because my church-affiliated college had no religion major. I took philosophy. Eventually, I realized this was for me. I love asking questions, questions which classmates and teachers have told me cannot be answered. Reading Plato, Aristotle, Whitehead and others, I realized by mid college that I could justify liberal arts. Indeed, philosophy and liberal arts were all but synonymous. I have interdisciplinary interests. Research leads me to believe human factors engineering (ergonomics) and phenomenology often differ in terms of semantics. Yes, phenomenologists and analytic thinkers argue and debate, while engineers building objects. But the objects (from bridges, to weapons, to paper clips) need be user friendly, that is, subjectivity friendly. Objects are not to be subjectivity-unfriendly. Study engineering if you wish to learn of ethics and law.  Michael M. Kazanjian.    mkazanjian@sbcglobal.net

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Michael Kazanjian
Instructor
Triton College
Chicago IL
------------------------------
  
-------------------------------------------
Original Message:
Sent: 01-03-2019 15:55
From: Laurie Shrage
Subject: What led you to philosophy?

What led you to pursue philosophy as a vocation?

I started college as an art and French major at UC Davis, where for a brief time I studied with the sculptor Robert Arneson. Perhaps my interests in French culture led me to take a course from Marjorie Grene on Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. I lacked all forms of intellectual sophistication, and remember sitting in Grene's office asking questions about "Ponty," and Grene would lean over her desk and look me directly in the eyes and say "Merleau-Ponty." I switched my major to Philosophy, because I thought it would be more practical than studying art and French! I also liked math in high school and the study of logic afforded the same pleasures without the risk of "social death," which a girl interested in math faced back then.  Although I found the books and courses in Philosophy often baffling, my Philosophy professors had the ability to look beyond the distracting details of an issue and raise the relevant and important questions. Philosophy allowed me to pursue many different kinds of interests, from the nature of art, feminist politics, the authority of science and religion, and so on. I didn't think about grad school until two of my classmates entered philosophy graduate programs, and they encouraged me to apply. I also didn't think much about what I would, or could, do with a Ph.D until, somewhere in the middle of grad school, I began to realize the opportunities that having an advanced degree opened up. I very much enjoyed the university environment and figured I would just keep on this track as long as I could, and I feel fortunate to have landed in a profession in which I can hang out with learned and intellectually curious, and occasionally irascible, colleagues and students.

------------------------------
Laurie Shrage
Professor
Gainesville FL
------------------------------



Wendy Turgeon
Jan 8, 2019 12:51 PM
Wendy Turgeon
I too stumbled into philosophy by accident, or rather via a core requirement.  I entered college at SIU-Edwardsville in Illinois passionate to be a music major.  After about a year and a half I lost my voice (what little I had to begin with, to be honest) and I ended up in a philosophy course.  I had become very interested in theology so that might have fueled the choice.  My professor, Galen Pletcher, was wonderful and frankly it was his encouragement, along with my logic professor, that led me to declare philosophy.  I recall telling the chair that I wanted to go on to study theology and she suggested gently that I work on philosophy first.  Good call.  I still am deeply interested in aesthetics where my love for music and all art finds a voice in thinking about it. God has remained the enigma It always was/is.  But mostly what I note is how often we end up in philosophy on the way to something else.  When I was ABD I was offered a teaching job but felt too uncertain about my teaching abilities and ended up in university administration for a number of years.  Eventually I returned to teaching.  For many of us it appears that philosophy is where we ended up after trying a path to somewhere else.

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Wendy Turgeon
Professor
St. Joseph's College
Saint James NY
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