"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-- The Dalai Lama

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Philosophy Class - The Love My Instructor Has For His Own Wisdom

I attend a state university that is considered a bastion of liberalism. It is often presumed that the most liberal of departments in the Arts and Sciences college is that of Philosophy. Now, maybe it is simply that I don't understand the underlying concept of philosophy classes, but I had assumed that at some point critical thinking and independent thought may be activities that would be considered acceptable. Perhaps even encouraged. My assumption was apparently wrong.

You see, in my Philosophy class we are not taught how to think but rather what to think. And I don't think it would go too far to say my instructor would actually rather we did not think at all, but rather regurgitate his own interpretations of philosophers.

Now, am I missing the point? Is this all there is to philosophy classes? Do philosophy majors fill their college years with the mindless repetition and reiteration? Is one ever encouraged to have their own 'philosophy?' Maybe those Indigo Girls were on to something.


stag said...

I minored in Philosophy at a state school. We read the works of the greats, formulated our own understanding (and sometimes lack of understanding), then discussed the works which inevitably included the instructor’s take on the works (which I found helpful). Then we wrote our own evaluation/analysis of the works as examination. For me, it encouraged free thinking, as the works we discussed included thoughts much more liberal than I had ever been exposed to in a live discussion, and that encouraged me to question the majority.

I think the point is to be exposed to the works you’re reading. You can then consider those along with your own experiences to formulate your own philosophies, which will be ever changing. The point isn’t to find your own philosophy and be done with it, but to exercise critical thinking and use that to continue the search for meaning, understanding and purpose. (At least for me that’s the point. It’s a subjective thing unique to each individual.)

I loved the classes. Maybe you have a bad instructor? Or maybe it’s just not your thing. A lot of people cringe when I say I minored in the subject.

So how did the LSAT go?

Shannon said...

Ah, the LSAT. Aren't we all glad that's over? I ended up breaking my ankle two days before and was in lots of pain during the thing. Still, my score was fine. It's 2 points above the 75th percentile of the school I would be thrilled to attend. So, I guess that's success :)

stag said...

Well that's good. Congratulations! I'm glad it's over too.