Teaching Searle and Analytic Philosophy

This summer term, I decided to use a different set of readings that I have been using for my Introduction to Philosophy class; and coming to the end of the term, we’re following a progression of Nietzsche, Sartre, Russell, a unit on feminism, a unit on postmodernism, Searle, and conclude the course with a discussion of philosophical practice (we read Marinoff).

Teaching Searle is always an interesting experience, as analytic philosophy sometimes feels little out of my comfort zone, but Searle is, in my opinion, a great writer and his work on articfical intelligence a lot of fun to teach to undergraduates.  The work seems “safe” compared to other topics with which we finish the course but the questions are significant and relevant.  In fact, reading the Chinese Thought Room Experiment is again, a lot of fun to read out loud and discuss while reading as a group; next time I teach this I want to find a way to re-enact the experiment. Continue reading “Teaching Searle and Analytic Philosophy”

Resistible demises

A new entry in my long-dormant series on “free dissertation topics”: a comparison and contrast between the media spectacles surrounding the deaths of Michael Jackson and Osama bin Laden.

Free dissertation topics: the first in an occasional series

Zombies have become a regular fixture in popular culture, with well-known properties and behavior patterns that remain more or less constant across a wide range of cultural artifacts. How can we explain the fact that this fictional creature is so well-understood? It is possible that this basic uniformity is solely the result of dynamics within the postwar pop culture tradition, but the widespread fascination with the zombie seems to point toward deeper roots. In this dissertation, I propose to demonstrate the connections between the contemporary figure of the zombie and medieval conceptions of the leper.