It Sometimes Begins with Emerson

I just did this survey, “put together by the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) and the APA Committee on Pre-College Instruction in Philosophy.” (You have to be an APA member to take it.)

It was fun. It gave me a chance to reflect on my first encounter with philosophy, which, contrary to the old saw, didn’t begin with Ayn Rand. It began in a high school English class on American literature, where we read Emerson and Thoreau. I’m not sure contemporary analytic philosophers would regard either of the two as real philosophers, but whatever you call them, they were my first contact with anything describable as philosophy.* I found them pretty enthralling, and still do. As it happens, I’m re-reading Walden for the first time in a couple of decades, and enjoying it immensely. One of my undergraduate teachers, George Kateb, predicted to me back then that I would one day forsake Ayn Rand and return home to the American Transcendentalists. I was offended at the time, but by George, he was right. Continue reading

St. Luke, Suicide Bomber: Political Philosophy Paper #2 in Translation

A couple of weeks ago, I assigned paper topic #1 in my political philosophy class here at Al Quds University. Here is paper topic #2 in (Facebook) translation. There were two options, and the students were to pick one and write a short paper on it. Oddly, the directions for the assignment don’t seem to have come through in the Facebook translation. Here is what did:

This is what respect in research or the topic II..
1. A plan no uprising for the liberation of Palestine. They should include special paper:
• A description of the goal your year.
• A description of how it will be an attempt to reach the goal.
• is the use of violence? If it does, why and how? What are the boundaries that were placed on the use of violence?
• was machiavelli or Luke useful in planning your uprising? Explain.
The goal as described in a paper that can be long-term one, but he doesn’t have to be realistic: it must be achieved by means of mankind in a specific period of time. I have to assume that the Palestinian side has a weakness, and that the Israelis will use all its advantages to resist any uprising.
2. Write an essay about the theory of John Luke property.
• First, summarized the theory.
• Then explain whether you agree with the general principles of ownership, Luke.
• and then discuss the implementation of the principles of Luke a specific example. What example teach you about the theory of Luke?

Here’s the original: Continue reading

When Translation Apps Attack

After covering Plato and Aristotle in my political philosophy seminar here, I assigned my students their first paper. I wrote the assignment in English. My (human) translator Amer translated it into Arabic and posted it on the class’s website–a closed group site on Facebook. Facebook then automatically had the assignment re-translated back into English via Google Translate. And that’s when all hell broke loose.

Continue reading

Paging Miss Anscombe

Here’s my writing assignment for week 3 of Phil 250 EL, “Making Moral Decisions” (fully online section). All of the material covered in class was about the advisability or not of drug use; none of it focused on questions of legality or politics.

Directions: Write a 750 word essay outlining the basics of your views on the use of mind- or mood-altering chemical substances for recreational purposes. At one extreme, someone might argue that you ought never to take drugs for recreational purposes. At the other extreme, you might argue, with Sullum, that there’s nothing wrong with doing so. Where do you end up? In particular, how does autonomy figure into your answer?

Representative answers, Type 1 (all emphases added): Continue reading