Thursday, March 31, 2011

time begins (again)

"Opening Day is normally a mini-holiday in the baseball year, with approximately the same significance as Groundhog Day on the larger calendar..." Roger Angell 

And this year, April comes a day early.

Play ball! (Then come talk about it at the "Baseball & Lit" conference on Friday...)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

only a theory?

During Bo & Ashley's Ipod & Philosophy presentation yesterday, the old "evolution is only a theory" canard snuck into the discussion. Once again, the popular equivocation between scientific, philosophical, and colloquial senses of "theory" created a muddle. Fact is, evolution's as factually solid as tables & chairs & trees & stones & gravity & the sunrise. Bishop Berkeley and David Hume notwithstanding, that seems pretty solid to me. And to Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Ken Miller...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kant to Schopenhauer

O 98-114, PW 89-101

1. What did the Romantics emphasize? What was their view of rationalism and empiricism?

2. How did Herder describe Germany's cultural heritage?  What did Goethe's "Faust" sell his soul for?

3. What did Immanuel Kant "synthesize" (i.e., what philosophies and what kinds of statements?)? Where did he live? What did he do every day (that his neighbors noticed)? Who was his favorite French author? Who "awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers"? (And what does that mean?)

4. What are Kantian "categories"? Appearance and reality correspond to what "worlds"? Which did Kant say was knowable? How? What did he say was unknowable?

5. What did Kant find awesome? How did he answer ethical questions (such as whether it's ever acceptable to tell a lie)? 

6. Who said there's no such thing as the thing-in-itself? Who said architecture is frozen music? Who loved dogs and introduced Kant to the French?

7.Who said "the real is the rational & the rational is real," also denied the existence of unknowable things in themselves, and said everything is intricately related (like a jigsaw, or a giant organism)?

8. What historical process did Hegel claim connects spirit, nature, and mind? What are its parts? When does it end? 

9. According to Hegel, what's another term for "Time-Spirit"? What is history? What's the creative source of reality?

10. What blind, irrational force did Schopenhauer, "starting from Kant," say is the "thing-in-itself" and the source of evil? How did he think wisdom could be achieved?
11. Kant was originally a follower of who?

12. Kant proposed to limit what, to make room for what? What "great ideas" did he hope to place beyond the reach of science?

13. What, according to Kant, do we do to the objects of our experience, with the result that we don't have to infer or prove the existence of an external world? (TIP: This is a useful mnemonic, worth remembering.) To whom was this a direct response?

14. How did Kant reconceive Descartes' conception of self, or "thinking thing"?

15. How did Kant say we demonstrate our freedom? When are we unfree?

16. Why did Kant think faith in an unproven God a "rational postulate" (though not knowledge)?

17. Who did Hegel call "world history on horseback"? What did he consider philosophy's final goal?

18. What was Hegel's term for what he considered the all-enveloping "cosmic soul" that includes us as part of all nature and history? What did he see as its most important implication?

19. What Kantian thesis about knowledge and consciousness did Hegel reject? What Aristotelian thesis did he accept? What does this imply about the self? What "sensibility" did he embrace?

20. What was Hegel saying about philosophy when he spoke of the "Owl of Minerva"?

21. What kind of hero were the young Romantics looking for? Who did they find? What did their hero most despise in Hegel's philosophy?

22. How did Schopenhauer adapt Kant's philosophy to his own? What was his view of the point or purpose of existence? What did he share with the Buddhists? How did he think we could break free of the controlling and all-consuming Will?

Monday, March 28, 2011

enjoying the end

I enjoyed our discussion of Gaian apocalypse (human apocalypse, I mean, at the behest of Gaia) in NW this afternoon. That's a strange thing to say but it's definitely in the spirit of James Lovelock's counsel that we enjoy life while we can. I've been humming this ever since:

Also enjoyed Matthew's presentation and his call for common ground. The Creation is a good example of the sort of dialogue we desperately need, if we're going to forestall the end. Cosmopolitanism too. (Did you hear Anthony Appiah on "On Being" yesterday?)

Gaia going, going...

We've got more urgent things to do than try to save the planet? Maybe the coming climatic catastrophe (from our POV) will "select a better class of humans"? Wow. Does James Lovelock have grandchildren?

Vanishing Face of Gaia, 1-2

1. Why does James Lovelock consider the word "Earth" inadequate? What does he expect to experience in space?

2. What's the root cause of the climate crisis? What do Al Gore, the IPCC, business, & governments still not understand? What's our "proper place"? What should be our species' goal now?

3. How does Lovelock's view differ from that of most climate scientists? What is their allegedly-errant assumption? Who does he blame for their mistake?

4. How are we like flood victims? What's our greatest hubris? Should we fear wild nature?

5. What will the British Isles, New Zealand, and a few other temperate places be "for humanity," in the coming crisis? Can they "save the planet"? Can wind, solar, and biofuels?

6. What did William James say is our "trouble"? Which JPL scientist best understood Gaia? Why have Americans been slow to grasp it? Who manages the climate? Do we need the "moral equivalent of war" to confront it?

7. What have environmentalists mistakenly opposed? How have they "sown the seeds of their own destruction"?

8. What's Lovelock's response to the criticism that his position is hopeless? Does he think we should "plant a tree"? Does he think we've heard his (and Tim Flannery's) wake-up calls? What kind of philosophy do we need now? Will Gaia nurture us through our troubles? How are we a "vital part" of her?

9. Does the welfare of humanity come first, for Lovelock? Do our needs coincide with the planet's?

10. What kind of science is "biogeochemistry"?

11. Would a 60% global reduction in fossil fuel emissions be good?

12. What do humans hate above all? What did Bertrand Russell say about this?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baseball in Literature and Culture 2011

It's almost that time again, no foolin'*... won't need travel money from the Dean for this one.

Agenda for 16th Annual Conference on Baseball in Literature and Culture

Middle Tennessee State University
*Friday, April 1, 2011*

7.45-8.15 Registration and Breakfast
8.20-8.30 Welcome:
Warren Tormey, Conference Coordinator
Dr. Mark Byrnes, Dean, College of Liberal Arts
8.30-9.15 Keynote Address:
Dr. Stephen Andrews, Grinnell College:
“Suicide Squeeze: Immigration and the Art of Stealing Home.”
9.20-10.20 Concurrent Sessions A
Session A1:  Baseball in Asian Contexts
Location: Hazlewood Chair:   Janaka Bowman-Lewis
Po-hsi Chen, National Central University, Taiwan: “’Don’t Mention (Them) Again!’: Cultural Representations of Professional Baseball Game-fixing Scandals in Taiwan”

Michael Pagel, Middle Tennessee State University: “A Hole in His Swing: An American Baseball Player in the Japanese National Game”

Kang-hun (Brett) Chang, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan:  “Baseball and the Immigrants in Three Asian-American Novels”

Session A2:  Baseball as Literary Symbol

Location: Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:  Bob Barrier

Don Johnson, East Tennessee State University: “Richard Ford's Knuckler: Conflicting Attitudes Toward Baseball in the Frank Bascomb Trilogy."

Nathan Valle, Liberty University: "The Gentle Player: Baseball as American Imperialism in the Works of Irwin Shaw."

Craig Albin, Missouri State University-West Plains: “Selling the Dream in Walt McDonald’s Poem ‘The Pee Wee Coach.’”

Session A3: Baseball in Popular Culture and Fiction

Location: Tennessee Room Chair:  Bob Johnson
Peggy Beck, Kent State University-Stark: “Pressbox Populations and Paradigm Shifts: Practicing  Media Relations in a Culture of Media Change

Jeremy Larance, West Liberty State University: “"The Shocking and True Story of the Best Baseball Novel Ever Written [by a Woman]."

Carl Schinasi, Miles College: “The Paradox of Class in Zane Grey’s Baseball Fictions”

10.30-11.30  Concurrent Sessions B

Session B1:  Baseball and African-American Literature and Culture

Location:  Hazlewood Chair:   Carl Schinasi

Michael Polley, Columbia College of Missouri: “Searching for Satchel Paige:  A Tale of Two Autobiographies”

Dan Anderson, Dominican University: “’Champions of a Nobler Plan’: Pitcher/Poet Andy Razaf’s Challenge to Segregated Baseball in the Harlem Renaissance”

Janaka Bowman-Lewis, University of North Carolina-Charlotte: “Black Baseball and the Respectability Project”

Session B2:  Reading Baseball Ballparks

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:  Peggy Beck

Matthew Bruen, New York University: “The Myth of the American Ballpark: Class Division, Economics, and Diversity in Baseball Stadiums."

Gary Mitchum, McFarland & Company, Inc.: “An Update on McFarland’s Historic Ballparks Series”

Bob Barrier, Kennesaw State University: "130 Years of Scoreboard Watching: Scoreboards for Information, Entertainment, and Commerce."

11.40-12.05  Concurrent Sessions C:  Baseball Table Talks
Location:  Tennessee Room Chair: Ron Kates
Table 1: Crosby Hunt, Middle Tennessee State University: “Rube Waddell, Al Pacino, What’s the Difference?”
Table 2: Warren Tormey, Middle Tennessee State University: “How Short Porches Saved the Game:  Ballpark (Re)Configuration   in the 1920's and 1990's”
Table 3: Tom Veve: Dalton State College: “When the Yankees Should Have Owned Gotham, or, The Origins of Baseball's Thirty Years War”
Table 4: Jim Blackstock, Cleveland, OH: "I Would Have Liked to Know You, But I Was Just a Kid.  Your Candle(s) Burned Out Long Before Your Legend(s) Ever Did: Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe in American and Baseball Culture"
12.15-1.45 Luncheon and Jim Rooker Talk

Tennessee Room

12.15-12.45 Lunch

12.45-1.30  Jim Rooker (20 min + ~10 min. Q & A;  Book Signing to follow)

1:50-2:50  Concurrent Sessions D

Session D1: Baseball Fiction I

Location:  Hazlewood Chair:  Craig Albin

Steven Walker, Middle Tennessee State University: “The Bull Dancer”

Phil Oliver, Middle Tennessee State University: “The Short and Incredible Career of Sidd Finch, Zen and Now”

Session D2: Baseball Myth and Illusion

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:  Dan Anderson

Kevin Grace, University of Cincinnati: “What Ring Lardner Learned Me to Read:  The Imaginary Library of Jack Keefe”

Jerry Wood, Carson-Newman College: “Smoky Joe Wood: The Legend that Wouldn’t Die”

Andy Hazucha: Ottawa University: “May 13, 1947, Crosley Field: Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and the Phantom Embrace”

3:00-4:00 Concurrent Sessions E

Session E1:  Baseball in Philosophical and Ethical Contexts

Location:  Hazlewood Chair:   Warren Tormey

Nick Bush, Motlow State College: “The Tao of Mike: the Psychology & Philosophy Behind Michael Jordan's Season with the Birmingham Barons"

Ron Bombardi, Middle Tennessee State University: “Baseball, Ballet, and Botox: An Inquiry into the Ethics of Doping”

Session E2: Baseball Fiction II

Location:  Faculty Senate Chambers Chair:  Kevin Grace

Bob Johnson, Eastern Kentucky University: “Press”

Denise Heinze, North Carolina State University: “Trick”

4:30 ish—Informal socializing, “The Boro”

6:00 Sun Belt Conference Baseball:  MTSU vs. South Alabama, Reese Smith Field

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spinoza to Smith

PW 76-88

1. When Spinoza and Leibniz "played off" Descartes's view of substance, what were they really talking about?

2. How did Spinoza earn his living? How did he die? What, besides the mind-body problem, was his philosophy an attempt to solve? What did he say is illusory?

3. What is determinism? In Spinoza's view, what is it pointless to want? What does this imply about our freedom? [Hint: see recent Schopenhauer tweet .] What attitude should we seek? What emotion attends it?

4. What did Leibniz mean by "monad" and "pre-established harmony"? What did he say about mind-body interaction, and interaction generally? Was his own life socially interactive, by comparison with Spinoza's? What was the basic principle of his philosophy?

5. What kind of world did Leibniz say we inhabit? How did his philosophy answer the problem of evil?

6. What "tension" troubled Newton? He's considered the greatest what of all time?

7. In what did Enlightenment philosophers put their greatest trust? They considered themselves citizens of what? To what did they think humanity was advancing?

8. What tradition began with John Locke? [Not LOST's John Locke] What was his view of rationalism and its confidence in reason? What was his assumption about the human mind? What did he say we know about "things-in-themselves" and the world beyond our senses?

9. How does Berkeley's idealism resemble Leibniz's monadolgy?

10. What was David Hume's view of the Enlightenment philosophers' confidence in reason? How did he apply this view to morality? How did he think we could be moral? What did he think takes reason's place in motivating human virtue?

11. What did Locke say is the basis of property rights? How did his social contract view of democracy, and individuality defy traditional authority?

12. Who were the two most prominent French Enlightenment philosophers? What was Rousseau's view of human nature?

13. What political concept did Thomas Jefferson invent?

14. Who was David Hume's best friend? How has he been misunderstood?

15. A decent free-enterprise system is possible only in the context of what kind of society, according to Smith? What does this imply for our contemporary politics ("tea party" libertarianism, etc.)?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Olber's Paradox

Here's the video on Olber's Paradox that wouldn't load for Jason. Let there be light.

And here's the opening from Contact. I don't know if it has anything to do with what Jason was saying about fractals. I just like it.

But remember: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.


Native Science, 7-9

The High School girls' softball game with Sewanee ran long, and I didn't have time to get today's quiz together yet... so again I invite your suggestions. What's worth knowing in these concluding chapters? Some topics do jump out, to me: the "creative life force," ho'zho, supernaturalism, the Blessing Way and Shield Way, the significance of  dawn, the practical dimension of native astronomy, reincarnation, alchuklash, tlamatinimine, ancient calendars, medicine wheels, Nazca lines, the Hubble Telescope, the symbolic meaning of breath and of circles, the indigenous relational philosophy, how western sciencee needs native science...

And... how do you feel about the commodification of the 7th generation, as instanced in the image here?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


It was a terrific day of Intro classes, with Nhu on Groundhog Day (here's Phil claiming to be a God), Nicholas on Star Wars, Spurgeon on Calvin, and lots of Einstein, Spinoza, Berkeley, & Leibniz. (That bio about Leibniz's jealous rivalry with Spinoza I mentioned is Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic.)

Here's my favorite Calvin:

I'm afraid I just can't get behind any theology that claims kids enter the world in a state of depravity, or that we all  deserve eternal damnation and unrelenting torment for expressing the very nature we supposedly were endowed with by our creator, or that the original "sinfulness" of long-gone ancestors is an ineradicable and permanent stain.

Such ideas can be engaged philosophically, but not by appeal to the putatively unchallengable authority of a pre-scientific, demonstrably errant, multiple-anonymous-contributor text.

One more thing, while I'm wound up, and before I cool down: global warming is not just an Al Gore fantasy.

Spinoza to Rousseau

O 76-97

1. From what temporal point of view did Spinoza say it is mind's nature to perceive things?

2. How did Spinoza out-geometrize Descartes? How many substances did he say there are in the universe? He was a  _________ , (solipsist, mystic, pantheist). What did he say was the difference between God and nature, and between mind and body?

3. (T/F) Because he thought everything is necessary and determined, Spinoza denied that humans can be happy or free.

4. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was caricatured by whom, as Dr. ________, for saying that everything is perfect? 

5. How many substances did Leibniz say there are? What did he call them? How do they appear to us? What metaphorical property do these alleged immaterial, non-interactive soul-entities lack?

6. What principle did Giambattista Vico assert? What conventional idea about human nature did he reject?

7. Empiricism, related to Thomas Hobbes' __________ theory of language, contends that knowledge and ideas must be based on experience. What was Hobbes' opinion about words?

8. John Locke said the mind originally is a tabula rasa, or _____ ____, until experience furnishes what kinds of  ideas?  Whose metaphysical speculations in particular did he imply were "rubbish"?
9. Ideas, for Locke, are produced by objects having what two qualities?What did Locke intend to distinguish, with these qualities?

10. Why did Bishop George Berkeley object to Locke's quality distinction?

11. What does "esse ist percipi" mean? If this is true, how do we know that things continue to exist when we're not perceiving them?

12. What was Johnson's refutation of Berkeley? Is it successful?

13. David Hume said we experience only what, instead of causes?  To what do they give rise? What does his philosophy pull the proverbial rug out from under? Was he distressed by these conclusions, and unhappy about them?

14. For  Hobbes the state of nature is a state of ___, but the natural law is to seek ______.

15. John Locke inspired American constitutional democracy and the French enlightenment, marked by the spread of what ideas? He identified which inalienable rights?

16. What did Voltaire want philosophy to be? How did he try to split the difference between optimism and pessimism? What did he say about the great Lisbon earthquake?

17. Leaders of the French Enlightenment rejected the Calvinist idea of innate ________ and said the aim of life is what?

18. What did Tom Paine say governments owed the people?

19. Who said mind has no sex, and rights have nothing to do with gender?

20. Who said economic freedom would lead to the "greater welfare of all"? Who said we're born naturally good ("noble savages"), in harmony with nature, but are corrupted by society and its institutions?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feynman on jiggling atoms

Paul gave us a fun demo today of what Mr. Feynman had in mind. Milk, detergent, and food dye are good at jiggling. "Have fun, don't worry." And don't worry about science sapping our spirit.

animals' place

Native Science, ch.5-6

1. Native peoples have traditionally perceived animals as co-creators of life, in many ways ______ to humans. (inferior, equal, superior)

2. Participation in the world of animals elicits what part of ourselves? What parts of ourselves do we project upon them?

3. What is bio-phobia? How do native cultures resist it? What is their "natural orientation"? What role do Shamans play in this?

4. How does "meaning pass from generation to generation" in an oral culture? What is "coming into being"?

5. What's the significance of "Coyote stealing fire from the shamans" and the Great Turtle myth of the Iroquois?

6. What is "indigenous" about Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic"?

7. What do native peoples mean by "multiverse"?

8. What is the indigenous perspective on "human rights"?

9. What's the Navajo concept of ho'zho?

10. What ancient native pathway courses through middle Tennessee? What icon of contemporary mass culture is rooted in indigenous locomotion? Springs and waterfalls symbolize what?

11. Western science has tried to remove what from our understanding of the world? Is Mother Earth getting back at us for it?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Renaissance to Descartes (2)

PW 69-75

1. Who was burnt at the stake in 1600 for supporting heliocentrism, and who was forced to recant it? When did the Catholic Church acknowledge its truth?

2. What was the "shocking" central insight of the new humanism? Who first  formulated the "scientific method"? What are its main components? How did he differ with Aristotle?

3. What kind of world did Thomas Hobbes say we live in? What did he mean by a "state of nature"? How did he think we could escape it? How did Hobbes and Machiavelli differ with Aristotle?

4. Who was the first "modern" philosopher to emphasize subjectivity as the road to objective knowledge? Which French philosopher of this period was a skeptic, dubious that humans are capable of achieving objective knowledge and truth? What did he see as the positive benefit of denying ultimate objectivity?

5. What result did Descartes hope to gain from his method of doubt? Why is "I think therefore I am" an important premise in his philosophy? How does he "know" there's no "evil genius" deceiving him?

6. Why was Descartes' emphasis on subjectivity so important? What is Cartesian dualism? Why did he want to keep mind and body separate?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Live long and prosper

Really enjoyed Kevin's report on the "Aryan" people of Northern India, but remain wary of what appears to be their insular, xenophobic attitude towards "outsiders."

The point of my post this morning, and remarks in class, was to endorse the Cajete/Sagan convergence: "we are all related" means we're a single species, sharing the starstuff that composes all our molecules, and at last aware that our cultural differences are cosmically insignificant.

But who can blame these gentle people, whose way of life so beautifully ties them to their place and their tradition, for resisting "contamination" from the auslanders?

On the other hand: one person's contamination is another's growth opportunity. IDIC, you know? "Infinite diversity from infinite combinations." We're going to have to be pluralists, to live long-term on this rock.

more poetic

"It's a very good idea, but can't we have something a little more 'poetic'
- like a flat earth resting on the back of a giant crocodile
floating in an infinite sea of mammoth milk?"

ecology, community, plants etc.

Native Science ch3-4

1. Once again, just in case we haven't nailed this down yet: what does Mitakuye oyasin mean, what does it personify to Indian people, and what is its relevance to native science?

2. How is Catholicism regarded by native Pueblo Indians?

3.  Why are children special in Indigenous cultures? How is their uniqueness nurtured? (Is this surprising, in light of the statement that "tribal man is hardly a personal 'self' in our modern sense of the word"?)

4. What does it mean to "find life" and be "at home in nature"?

5.  What's sacred to a child?

6. Native myths mirror what?

7. What kind of relation is involved in "coming to know"?

8. How is illness "environmental"?

9. What's permaculture?

10. What's Weatherford's hypothesis about Machu Picchu?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Renaissance to Descartes

O 58-75

1. Among the notable developments of the  15th-16th century Renaissance were shifts from astrology to __________ and   from _______ to chemistry.

2. Machiavelli distinguished himself from his medieval predecessors how? What was his view of republican democracy?

3.Which New Humanist criticized professors and Popes in an earthy, vernacular style. Who (like Plato) envisioned an imaginary utopia"with no private property"?

4 Who led the Protestant Reformation, upheld the authority of the Bible, and reviled priests? He defended faith against what, and opposed what church practice? 

5. Who else defended predestination, and claimed that even newborns deserve eternal damnation?

6. Copernicus advocated ________, (geocentrism, heliocentrism, pantheism) which means what?

7. Who confirmed Copernicus' theory with his new telescope?

8.  Who practiced constant critical inquiry and said we can't even create lowly worms but still think nothing of creating gods?

9. Who said "knowledge is power"  and is believed by some to have written Shakespeare's plays?
10. ______, a determinist, said life in a state of nature would be "solitatary, poor," and what else?

11. Rene Descartes _______ (wanted, rejected) certainty in life. He sought to provide, via reason, what metaphorical basis for knowledge? His famous "Meditations" deployed what method?

12. Descartes' first rule: accept only what kind of ideas?

13. Why did Descartes supposed nothing is as it appears? He thought he could be hallucinating, dreaming, or deceived by what?

14. "Cogito ergo sum,"the "first principle" of Descartes' philosophy, means what?

15. How did Descartes think mind is related to body? This view is called __'ism. 

16.Relying on a version of Anselm's ontological argument to guarantee the reliability of clear and distinct ideas, Descartes' argument seemed too what, to some critics?

17. What was Descartes' view of (non-human) animals?

Monday, March 14, 2011

pineal gland

Interesting NW class today, thanks to questions from Clark & Jon on (respectively) Earth's long-term good* and the ethics of carnivorousness [see Michael Pollan's "An Animal's Place" & Omnivore's Dilemma], and then Kayla's report on the pineal gland. I'm sure we'll return to all of these topics in class again, but on the latter some might be interested in this article about Descartes' interest in that gland as the "seat of the soul":

Incorporeal volitions cannot move the corporeal pineal gland because this would violate the law of the conservation of energy. Descartes did not have this problem because he did not know this law...
As philosophy reduced the pineal gland to just another part of the brain and science studied it as one endocrine gland among many, the pineal gland continued to have an exalted status in the realm of pseudo-science. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Madame Blavatsky, the founder of theosophy, identified the “third eye” discovered by the comparative anatomists of her time with the “eye of Shiva” of “the Hindu mystics” and concluded that the pineal body of modern man is an atrophied vestige of this “organ of spiritual vision.” This theory is still immensely popular today. 
My own view, to paraphrase Ray Stevens: every gland is beautiful, in its own way... but none of them is likely to reconcile metaphysically-distinct res extensa  and res cogitans. It's part of the brain, whose works & wonders we've only just begun to grasp.

Oh, and about the symbolism of those pine cones: remember, futurists, the bristlecone pines from Clock of the Long Now?
Rings in some dead bristlecone trunks on the mountain [Mt. Washington in Nevada]  go back 10,000 years... 'Find a bristlecone you like and hang out with it. Forget the present. Think about the past and the future.'
Think, in other words, deeper than seven generations. Think really long-term, and don't despair.
* The way Clark phrased his question reminded me of this...

and this:

native science, whole earth

We begin Greg Cajete's Native Science today in NW. Chapter One, "Telling a Special Story," urges the replacement of our standard western scientific paradigm with the wisdom of native creation myths. "These myths are simultaneously evolutionary, ecological, spiritual, psychological, and creative."

Philosopher Loyal Rue thinks the old western paradigm still allows the telling of a pretty good story in its own right, and is perfectly compatible with multiple versions including many of those native stories. Without something like it, though, "everybody's story" lacks both a spine and a cosmic perspective.
Everybody's story needs many voices and many versions, but if it is to be everybody's story then those venturing to tell it must stand out there, at some distant remove, where the earth can be seen whole.

Native Science foreword, intro, 1-2

1. Gregory Cajete says reality is mathematical in what way? Why does he deny that nature is mathematical?

2. Native languages have no words for what? Native science exemplifies what instinct, and what other phenomena? It is most akin to which field of inquiry?

3. The essence of native spirituality is not religion, but what? What are the generative forces of the universe? What is "butterfly power"? Is it supernatural or extraordinary? Is animism?

4. What is "the basic experience of the world," and which French phenomenologist does Cajete mention in connection with it? How does it relate to "biophilia" and to scientific objectivity?

5. Why is metaphor important? What quality of experience does it engender? What do we lose without it?

6. Why are we here, according to the Hopi? Are indigenous creations myths compatible with evolution? What is spiritual ecology? Where is "Turtle Island" and how does it relate to "Gaia"?

7. What does the "mountaintop" symbolize?

8. If humans are Earth becoming conscious of itself, what part of the "superbeing" are we? What can we gain from a new eco-philosophy? What is its greatest challenge?

9. What is the human function of native cosmology? How do we "bring our reality in to being"?

10. What is the best translation for "education" in native traditions? How do its goals differ from those of western science? What is the alternative to "domination"?

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Spring Break's history, time to get on back to school. I'm ready!

Tomorrow we commence a new book & author in Native Wisdom class, Greg Cajete's Native Science. Can't wait.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Spring Break

Here's where I caught my only live-action MLB foul ball, in March '91. Dale Sveum was the Phils' hitter, vs.the Cards. (They're in Jupiter now, a big step down in my opinion.) The sun was whanging, the boats in the bay were sailing, time stood still.

Memories are good.

Friday, March 4, 2011

John Morgan

The new head of the Tennessee Board of Regents, which oversees higher education in our state (except for the University of Tennessee, tucked safely in its own sinecure), spoke to our Faculty Senate the other night. (We'd heard from his predecessor in October.)

Mr. Morgan's appointment had been controversial, since he's not himself an academic but was a close deputy of former governor Bredesen (who appointed him).

I'm pleased to report that he doesn't have horns, he's personable and intelligent. Most reassuringly, he says he "gets it" that higher education is not just about training the state's workforce and creating jobs. He says people like Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (who has spouted off about tweedy academics who only work part-time) and other anti-intellectual types in state government, understand it too-- or at least they understand it better than they let on in public. 

But, Morgan adds, "jobs, vocational training, outcomes-assessment, retention" (etc.) is the language we all have to speak, in public, if we want to get even minimal funding from the legislature. We should anticipate continued funding appropriation cuts of 1 to 3% in the foreseeable future. We can't hope to get back to 2008 funding levels before 2014, by current projections. 

And he says we have to all just understand, it's a "given": Tennessee is a "fiscally conservative" state, will always rank close to #50 in state revenues dedicated to education. The pie won't be getting bigger. Nonetheless, he says the new governor is pro-higher ed, and not just pro-UT. We'll see.

Maybe he does "get it," but it still bugs me that the head of TBR can speak so casually of students as our "customers." I'm grading exams: trust me, the customer's not always right. But he's a business & finance guy, that's the language he knows.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


These aren't J&M's only words on that which can't be spoken...

PW 51-69
1. What Christian idea was "shocking," in contrast to the traditional Jewish view of God as transcendent?

2. What event alleged to relieve humans of ultimate responsibility and "put things right" with God is contrary to ordinary ideas about justice?

3. What is the cornerstone of Christian philosophy?

4. How did Philo reinterpret Bible stories? 

5. Who first interpreted Jesus as God's son, and declared the crucifixion an atonement for human sins?

6. (T/F) Plotinus said even the lowest forms of existence are spiritual?

7. Augustine thought free will was a ______. (blessing, curse, illusion) His significance for later philosophy is seen in his ________ turn, an attempt to gain self-knowledge which would also lead to knowledge of God.

8. Muhammad identified Allah as _____________ (the same as, different from) the God of Christianity and Judaism. Islam originally was _________ (open to, hostile to) Christians and Jews.

9. _____ (Like, unlike) Christians, Muslims believe individuals have immortal souls and that the problem of evil is solved by free will.

10. _____ (Like, unlike) Platonists and neo-Platonists, Muslims say they consider the material world real and good.

11. Mysticism is the deliberate transformation of consciousness in an attempt to gain access to what? Do you think ordinary or everyday thought, experience, and language are incapable of grasping reality?

12. What are the names for Jewish and Islamic mysticism?

13. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is an example of what?

14. Zen Buddhism says all things depend on what? What do Buddhists think this reveals about reality?

15. Admirers of Aristotle who walked around with him as he lectured were called what?

16.What Arabic philosopher said literalism was good enough for ordinary people but that the educated required persuasive, reasoned argument?

17. Moses Maimonides attempted to reconcile what?

18. Whose motto was "Faith seeking to understand"? What was the purpose of his ontological argument for the existence of God?

19. Abelard was a __________, contending that only individuals exist. He said those who deny this are tricked by what?

20. Aquinas (like Aristotle) said what should not be accepted in philosophy or theology?

21. What was resurgent in the Renaissance?

22. What was Martin Luther's main philosophical concern? What church practice did he most object to?

23. Who deserves damnation, according to Calvin? Do you agree?

24. What did Erasmus say about happiness? [ATTN: sec. 15. Would he have liked RadioheadRadiohead & Philosophy blog... nyt]

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

human kudzu?

Nature's Way, conclusion

1. Buffalo and "Gone" represent what?

2. What is the sixth extinction?

3. What's the major cause of the current crisis in biodiversity?

4. What's the problem with midwestern lawns?

5. What's the Island Effect?

6. Why is kudzu objectionable?

7. How long did it take to produce a year's worth of fossil fuels, at present rates of consumption?

8. Is natural gas a good alternative transportation fuel?

9. How should we define overpopulation? Where is population growth most costly, from a global perspective?

10. Does Eagle Man consider "Gaia" a metaphor? Do you?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

medievals & scholastics

O 40-57
1. The Holy Roman Empire commenced with whose coronation? What were his dreams? What did Voltaire say about the Empire?

2. Who "saved civilization" by preserving Greek culture during the Dark Ages? Where, during this period, was the largest and most civilized city in the world? What great monotheistic tradition arose among the Bedouins in the desert in the 7th century?

3. The neo-Platonist "John the Scot" (Irish, actually) identified God with the universe, making him a what? He said humans have free will, that reason is ________ (inferior, superior) to revelation, and that Genesis should be read how?

4. Avicenna attempted to synthesize Islam with who? What did he say about Univserals and things?

5. Averroes followed Aristotle in arguing against what? What did he say about religion? Which Spanish philosopher identified the pursuit of truth with religion?

6. When did scholasticism begin? Which scholastic argued against Universals and suffered a horrible fate for love?

7. Who said God, being perfect, necessarily has to exist? Who distinguished natural from revealed theology , said concepts prove nothing about existence, and defended five arguments for the existence of God?

8. Besides false displays of wisdom, Roger Bacon identified what other causes of  ignorance? What Irish Franciscan gave us the word "dunce"?

9. Who did scholastics prefer, Plato or Aristotle? 

10. William of Occam's famous "razor" made a virtue of _______. (simplicity, complexity, necessity, pedantry)

11. The medieval worldview borrowed its triadic social structure from _____'s depiction of the individual soul: ordinary people are analogous to which body part?  

12. Where did a new humanism arise, as the middle ages ended? Accelerating Intelligence News