Thursday, February 25, 2021

Dogs deserve their dignity

Just about made it through another winter without humiliating the pooches, despite wife's & Younger Daughter's desire to put 'em in jackets.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Best of All Games | Boston Review

But would he have been a fan behind the veil?
šŸ‘£Solvitur ambulando
šŸ’­Sapere aude

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Thomas Davidson

A neglected philosopher of democracy and a teacher's teacher, appreciated by Doug Anderson in Philosophy Americana

"...philosophy’s central task is the education of individuals to a freer and more philosophically minded existence, such that they might create and maintain a better world. “The task of the centuries since the close of the Middle Ages has been,” he said, “gradually to remove this yoke of authority, and to raise men to freedom of thought, affection, and will—in a word, to rational self-guidance, or moral life.” Though not in a narrow way, philosophy is instrumental to the development of community. Again, Davidson saw this role of philosophy as standing in the tradition of the Greeks, as developing the love of wisdom in a social context. He was a Dewey-like believer in democracy’s possibilities and took “the task of the twentieth century” to be “to raise mankind, every member of it, to complete and actual moral freedom, which rests upon insight, just affection, and strong will, realizing themselves in a social order.” This task, as Dewey also believed, is at core an educational task. “A democracy cannot long be sustained,” Davidson argued, “by an ignorant demos...

The teacher who does not feel himself, or herself, an apostle with an important mission, but looks upon the teaching profession as a mere means of making a living, had better seek some other occupation. For Davidson this political transformation is appropriate to the development of a democracy and requires special attention on the part of the state so that education is public and extends “equally to all classes of the population” to ensure that there is “freedom from castes.” Providing the opportunity for learning and for leveling persons upward is a condition for successful democracy. As does Dewey, Davidson begins with the assumption that all persons can learn—that is, that they can, through the development of habits, create “harmonious worlds” for themselves. Since individual freedom depends on world building, and world building depends on learning, the primary task of any democracy must be to provide the possibility of learning for all its citizens. “The nation,” Davidson argued, speaking specifically of the United States in the twentieth century, “owes it to every one of its citizens to see to it that he has time and strength left to be a student.” It is therefore equally apparent that we philosophers and students of the humanities are central to the community’s work. Our task is to provide freedom and culture through teaching. Philosophy, history, and the arts, approached in Socratic fashion, enable lives that are “rich, full, and lofty.” As James noted, the Davidsonian teacher’s aim was not to create citizens who are “interchangeable parts” in a “rule-bound organism,” but to enable “flexible” lives through “liberation of the inner interests.” Despite its focus on individuals instead of institutions, Davidson’s take on the relationship of education to democracy is strongly reminiscent of features of Dewey’s Democracy and Education and, more specifically, of Dewey’s later essay “Creative Democracy: The Task Before Us.” Davidson simply focused on aspects of democracy and education that are less prominent, though present, in Dewey’s work. One such aspect was the individual’s responsibility to learn. Not only did the state have an obligation to make learning possible, but persons in a democracy have an obligation to be students. But they must be students as learning world builders, not as receptacles of information...

Through his actions, Davidson had made a case for the essentiality of teaching and given credence to his plea that the rest of us do more of it: If the teachers of the nation, with a due sense of their power and importance, would, without hope or desire for material reward, form themselves into an association for the higher education of the bread-winners … and each devote a couple of evenings a week to the work, they would soon elevate the culture of the whole people, and remove the worst dangers that threaten society... such an example seems difficult to follow so long as philosophy and teaching are understood primarily as professions confined to university campuses and not as life tasks essential to the development of democratic community. William James did not remind us of Thomas Davidson because of the latter’s scholarly work. Rather, he pointed us to the philosophy for which the act and art of teaching “cultural science” is central. Davidson was indeed a renegade; Dewey called him an “academic outlaw”—a title Davidson no doubt relished. His ideas are radical and suggestive. To be sure, we have established “continuing education” and “distance learning” programs in our high schools and colleges; but one gets the cynical sense that these programs are now oriented toward the production of degrees for students and the generation of money for schools. They fall well short of the Davidsonian ideal. When the majority of our high school students arrive at college with no conception of what we philosophers do or why we do it, it is important for us to take notice. Most of us teach, yet teaching is not, in general, a highly applauded practice in the contemporary academy. Many of us have not thought about how our teaching is related to our philosophical practices—not just our philosophical “positions.”

Philosophy Americana: Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture (American Philosophy Book 18) by Douglas R. Anderson:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Lent & lint are "tricky"

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 I Actually Like Teaching on Zoom

There may be less human warmth. But there can be more human connection.

...Regardless of what impact videoconferencing will have on our teaching after the pandemic, I am sure college professors can all agree on one thing: We should never, ever have in-person faculty meetings again.

Monday, February 15, 2021


Everyone should have a dog in their life.


This is the COOLEST. A Google Earth-type representation of the planet. Every green dot is a radio station. Click any dot to listen in. It's like cultural teleportation. You could spend hours with this thing…

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Create a Digital Commonplace Book

Readers have collected their favorite literary lines for centuries. Now compiling a portable word scrapbook is easier than ever.

Creating a commonplace book is somewhat like marking your favorite lines in a novel with the Amazon Kindle highlights feature — except your personal one-stop knowledge repository can also include song lyrics, movie dialogue, poems, recipes, podcast transcripts, and any inspiring bits you find in your reading and listening. The commonplace book is not a new concept: Copying down your favorite lines from other people’s works into your own annotated notebook was a standard exercise in Renaissance Europe, and the idea can be traced to the Roman era.

But here in the modern world of digital connectivity, you don’t have to keep everything in one physical location. With the right app, you can use your smartphone, tablet or computer to collect and sync up new content for your collection — and use the search function later to find specific entries. Here’s how to get started making a digital commonplace book — or how to convert that battered notebook of thoughts and quotes you’ve been keeping all along...

Monday, February 8, 2021

A Happiness of Bluebirds

Margaret Renkl finds her bird:

This year isn't living up to my hopes, so I am learning to hope in a new way.
I don't laugh much anymore. I am grieving a mismanaged pandemic that has taken too many of us and driven too many others to despair. I am grieving the assaults on American democracy by my fellow Americans. I am grieving the brutal news of the environment, which worsens with every new study. When a suicide bomber blew up a historic section of this town on Christmas morning, it felt entirely of a piece with a terrible, endless year. Surely, I thought, 2021 would be better.
But 2021 has not been better. The U.S. Capitol was invaded by U.S. citizens provoked by a U.S. president. Pandemic deaths are approaching half a million. The Doomsday Clock remains set at 100 seconds from disaster. My dog died. It all adds up to a sorrow that is both unimaginably vast and far too close to home.
I have faith in the promise of spring, but right now spring feels like just another cold concept, like the concept of herd immunity and the concept of reasonable Republicans. I know such things exist, but these days that knowledge feels more like a theory than a conviction...
And maybe it's enough in February, in these days that are so close to turning warm and bright and green again, when we are so close to being released from the prison of our homes, to think of happiness as neither distant nor grand. Perhaps it would help to remember that even now happiness is only what it has ever been: something that lights before us, immediate and insistent and always fleeting. Not a promise at all but a temporary gift. It lands, and lifts away, and returns again, ever flashing its wings. Accelerating Intelligence News