So it is three years, today, since I started this blog. To talk the talk of philosophical practice. Hurrah! Now, as of today, I am contractually obliged to start to walk the walk. To teach, explore, discover, assess, reflect on philosophy as a practice across its history and traditions with real live university students. Ahh!
After a very long stretch of climbing the shit mountain (some of which is described in the last edition), now quite to my surprise and relief I have scored not one but two academic philosophy jobs at two universities. Taken together they pretty much make one academic job; this cobbling together of part-time gigs, often at multiple institutions, is the current (problematic) usual for early career academics. But, what is unusual in my case, is that I have managed to get any job at all (let alone two!) while inhabiting the commonly maligned no-person’s land of major thesis corrections — completed, submitted, viva’d, still not yet awarded the PhD, more than student less than Doctor. Surprisingly, too, is that the two institutions are actually near each other, and both are prepared to accommodate my commitments to the other.
For one of these gigs I am promoted to course lecturer/instructor. Although quite an experienced undergraduate teacher, it will be the first time I do and am all the things, with that comes great freedoms but also great swathes of institutional policies to abide by.
The great freedom (perhaps liberty) I have taken is to combine my expertise in history of philosophy (see A Divine Orgasm? for a taste of my research and here for my academic profile) with my interest in philosophical practice (explored throughout this blog) to create my dream course. For ‘Great Works in Philosophy’ I am tracing the changing and varied views on what constitutes philosophy and its relevant practices, through as large a variety of voices and traditions as can be possibly fit (jammed) into a 12 week introductory course.
I shall ask my students, these burgeoning philosophers, to seriously think about what philosophy is and how to be a philosopher via some of the greats. It will, of course, include Socrates’ method, Plato’s dialogues, Descartes’ armchair, Locke’s empirics, Kant’s whatever Kant does; but also, Elizabeth and Masham’s letters, and Astell’s proposal, Confucius’ ritual, Averroes’ commentary, Augustine and Hildegard’s illuminations. The program also invites us to go on philosophy adventures. Thus, we shall observe the paintings of the Romantics then attempt to produce our own masterpieces to explore Schiller’s idea of philosophy as artistic self creation. And meditate with a Buddhist monk and teacher to contemplate philosophical self and emptiness.
If you are interested, an outline of the syllabus is available here.
I am truly grateful to have this opportunity. To walk the philosophical life and share a glimpse of it with others, who perhaps, might even begin to walk it for themselves. What a way to celebrate How to be a Philosopher’s third anniversary.
P.S. I hope to give the regular blog a reboot, so fingers crossed, a new edition will be coming to you next month.