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Monday, January 7, 2019

APA CONNECT- General Discussion Digest for Sunday, January 6, 2019.

American Philosophical Association

General Discussion

Jan 6, 2019 10:59 AM
Krim Ballentine

Philosophy is a study of knowledge: good, bad, indifference etcetera not subject centric: economic, math, ethics and so on are to be studied as unclassified knowledge, its origin and essence, metaphysics and as variable opinions of others.

Gonzalo Munevar
Jan 6, 2019 10:58 AM
Gonzalo Munevar
I took the required philosophy high school course in my native Colombia.  We read summaries of the views of many philosophers written for the purpose of demonstrating that Thomas Aquinas was the greatest philosopher who ever lived (Aristotle + Christianity).  I thought it was the stupidest course ever.  But years later I had to take a humanities elective at Monterey Peninsula College and the only course that fit my schedule was Introduction to Philosophy.  We read excerpts from various philosophers and then came to class to argue about them.  And I really loved arguing.  The instructor, Mrs. Nuckton, was extremely encouraging, the first of many mentors, which made me volunteer to give a talk about Sartre's Being and Nothingness.  I prepared like crazy, for in addition to Mrs. Nuckton I wanted to impress a classmate I had fallen in love with.  She didn't show up.  Nevertheless I was hooked on philosophy and temporarily gave up my physics major to pursue a B.A. in philosophy at Northridge.  My intention was to return to physics, but my mentors at Northridge talked me into staying for an M.A., which I finished in one year.  I was also a graduate assistant.  No time to think about anything but philosophy, so I applied to doctoral programs in philosophy.  My top choice was Berkeley, where I hoped to work with Feyerabend on his eliminative materialism.  I was accepted at Berkeley and Feyerabend became not only my mentor but a life-long friend.  Another member of my dissertation committee, Gunther Stent, one of the founders of molecular biology, also became a mentor and a life-long friend.  They both encouraged me to develop my own philosophy highly influenced by evolution and neuroscience.  In four years I had a Ph.D. and had to look for a job.  I had loved Berkeley, sitting on the grass by the Campanile arguing in Feyerabend's seminar, and going to Stent's neuroscience lab to argue about biology.  But a philosophy professor I became.  Years later at the Stanford Humanities Center, when I was developing the philosophy of space exploration, some people at NASA suggested getting a job with the agency.  But I was too chicken to leave academia.  In addition to philosophy I also taught some science, literature and creative writing.  Eventually, at Lawrence Tech, where I had gone as head of humanities and social sciences, I moved into experimental neuroscience, a field I have continued to pursue after retirement.

Gonzalo Munevar
Professor, Emeritus
Lawrence Technological University
Southfield MI

Like so many others, it seems, I took a roundabout route to philosophy.  I had the advantage of a highschool course in Philosophy and took an unusual number of philosophy courses when I was studying for a BFA at a theatre conservatory. I went on to get an MA in theatre, and began to realise that what drew me to drama was not the theatre itself, but the philosophical issues that it illuminated. The move to philosophy was then an easy one, and I had the support of many of my undergraduate instructors, who wondered why the heck I hadn't gone into philosophy in the first place. Seems they knew a lot that I didn't at 21 years old.
I knew I wanted to teach from early on in my career, and so there wasn't much of a question of what I would "do with" my degree. I'm lucky that I've had the opportunity to teach as a result of my study.

Will Behun
McHenry County College
Crystal Lake, IL USA

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