Of Interest to My Students
This fall semester, I'm teaching Philosophy and Religion (PHIL 1600) at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here are some things you might find useful, interesting, or amusing:
- For Philosophy and Religion (PHIL 1600-001):
- Raphael's The School of Athens:
- Jacques-Louis David's The Death of Socrates:
- Clip from Waking Life: David Sosa discusses free will (the video's audio track has been changed, so you might want to mute it and just read the subtitles)
- Sinfest comic strip: Pooch and Percy discuss death
- Mac Hall comic strip: some thoughts on Anselm's ontological argument
- Cracked.com article on the nature of happiness
- Another Cracked.com article on happiness
- Cracked.com article on power and its effects on a person
If you have questions or would like to chat, feel free to e-mail me.
I grew up in small-town Minnesota. I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a BA in philosophy and a BS in management information systems and computer information systems (MIS and CIS are hybrid computer and business majors) and minors in religious studies and computer science. Then, I worked for a while, which included teaching a Web design course at South High School in Fargo, North Dakota. I then started graduate school in philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I have the MA, and I should have the PhD soon; all that remains is for me to finish my dissertation, which is on problems with attempts to solve the problem of evil.
When not doing research or teaching—and, really, even then—I'm still a geeky kid in most ways. My free time is spent surfing the Web, chatting with friends on Facebook, listening to music, reading comics, shopping for whatever I'm collecting at the moment, playing games (cards, chess, video games, and pen-and-paper RPGs), watching TV and movies, reading mythology and decently written fiction, and, occasionally, doing some writing of my own.
Here is my curriculum vitae.
As I mentioned above, I have a master's in philosophy, and I'm a candidate for the doctorate, but that alone doesn't tell you much about what I do philosophically. I've tried to learn a bit about most everything, but my main areas are philosophy of religion, history of philosophy (especially ancient), logic, and ethics (both theoretical and applied). My CV lists what I've taught.
I also work as a tutor for philosophy, especially logic. If you'd like to hire me, e-mail me.
Besides philosophy, I'm interested in religion, mythology, and the classics. I doubt that I'll ever have the time and energy to pursue every one of my interests, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
Words to Live By
Be sure that if you kill the sort of man I say I am, you will not harm me more than yourselves. Neither Meletus nor Anytus can harm me in any way; he could not harm me, for I do not think it is permitted that a better man be harmed by a worse; certainly he might kill me, or perhaps banish or disfranchise me, which he and maybe others think to be great harm, but I do not think so. I think he is doing himself much greater harm doing what he is doing now, attempting to have a man executed unjustly. —Socrates (according to Plato, Apology 30c–d)
[A] good man cannot be harmed either in life or in death[.] —Socrates (according to Plato, Apology 41d)
I prefer nothing, unless it is true. —Socrates (according to Plato, Euthyphro 14e)
There is no greater evil one can suffer than to hate reasonable discourse. —Socrates (according to Plato, Phaedo 89d)
[F]requently, owing to [Socrates's] vehemence in argument, men set upon him with their fists or tore his hair out; [...] for the most part he was despised and laughed at, yet bore all this ill-usage patiently. So much so that, when he had been kicked, and someone expressed surprise at his taking it so quietly, Socrates rejoined, "Should I have taken the law of a donkey, supposing that he had kicked me?" —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 21
Often when [Socrates] looked at the multitude of wares exposed for sale, he would say to himself, "How many things I can do without!" —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 25
[Socrates] used to say it was strange that, if you asked a man how many sheep he had, he could easily tell you the precise number; whereas he could not name his friends or say how many he had, so slight was the value he set upon them. —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 30
There is, [Socrates] said, only one good, that is, knowledge, and only one evil, that is, ignorance; wealth and good birth bring their possessor no dignity, but on the contrary evil. —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 31
[Socrates] used to express his astonishment that the sculptors of marble statues should take pains to make the block of marble into a perfect likeness of a man, and should take no pains about themselves lest they should turn out mere blocks, not men. —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 33
[Socrates] had invited some rich men and, when Xanthippe said she felt ashamed of the dinner, "Never mind," said he, "for if they are reasonable they will put up with it, and if they are good for nothing, we shall not trouble ourselves about them." —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 34
To one who said, "You are condemned by the Athenians to die," [Socrates] made answer, "So are they, by nature." —Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers Book II, Chapter 5, 35
Of substances constituted by nature some are ungenerated, imperishable, and eternal, while others are subject to generation and decay. The former are excellent and divine, but less accessible to knowledge. The evidence that might throw light on them, and on the problems which we long to solve respecting them, is furnished but scantily by sensation [...]. The scanty conceptions to which we can attain of celestial things give us, from their excellence, more pleasure than all our knowledge of the world in which we live [...]. —Aristotle, Parts of Animals Book I, Chapter 5, 644b22–34
[I]t is the mark of excellence both to be pleased and to be pained at the right objects and in the right way. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book IV, Chapter 1, 1121a3–4
[T]he good man obeys his intellect. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book IX, Chapter 8, 1169a17
[I]t is not noble to be keen to receive benefits. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book IX, Chapter 11, 1171b25–26
[T]o do noble and good deeds is a thing desirable for its own sake. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 6, 1176b7–9
[T]he activity of wisdom is [...] the pleasantest of excellent activities; at all events philosophy is thought to offer pleasures marvelous for their purity and their enduringness [...]. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 7, 1177a23–26
If intellect is divine [...] in comparison with man, the life according to it is divine in comparison with human life. But we must not follow those who advise us, being men, to think of human things, and, being mortal, of mortal things, but must, so far as we can, make ourselves immortal, and strain every nerve to live in accordance with the best thing in us; for even if it be small in bulk, much more does it in power and worth surpass everything. This would seem, too, to be each man himself, since it is the authoritative and better part of him. It would be strange, then, if he were to choose not the life of himself but that of something else. And [...] that which is proper to each thing is by nature best and most pleasant for each thing; for man, therefore, the life according to intellect is best and pleasantest, since intellect more than anything else is man. This life therefore is also the happiest. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 7, 1177b30–1178a8
[T]he activity of God, which surpasses all others in blessedness, must be contemplative; and of human activities, therefore, that which is most akin to this must be most of the nature of happiness. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 8, 1178b22–23
[W]e must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things [...]; for self-sufficiency and action do not depend on excess, and we can do noble acts without ruling earth and sea; for even with moderate advantages one can act excellently (this is manifest enough; for private persons are thought to do worthy acts no less than despots—indeed even more); and it is enough that we should have so much as that [...]. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 8, 1179a1–9
[H]e who exercises his intellect and cultivates it seems to be both in the best state and most dear to the gods. For if the gods have any care for human affairs, [...] it would be reasonable both that they should delight in that which was best and most akin to them (i.e. intellect) and that they should reward those who love and honor this most, as caring for the things that are dear to them and acting both rightly and nobly. And that all these attributes belong most of all to the wise man is manifest. He, therefore, is the dearest to the gods. And he who is that will presumably be also the happiest; so that in this way too the wise man will more than any other be happy. —Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book X, Chapter 8, 1179a22–32
[A]s the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all. —Aristotle, Metaphysics Book II (α), Chapter 1, 993b9–11
[T]he activity of thought is life, and God is that activity; and God's essential activity is life most good and eternal. —Aristotle, Metaphysics Book XII (Λ), Chapter 7, 1072b26–27
Don't fear god, Don't worry about death; What is good is easy to get, and What is terrible is easy to endure. —Philodemus's statement of the Epicurean "four-part cure"
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. [...] [W]hen you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. [...] And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. —Jesus of Nazareth (according to Matthew 6: 1, 2, 5 [NIV])
Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses you or hits you, but the judgment about him that he is insulting. So when someone irritates you be aware that what irritates you is your own belief. [...] Another person will not do you harm unless you wish it; you will be harmed at just that time at which you take yourself to be harmed. —Epictetus, Handbook 20, 30
Let death and exile and everything that is terrible appear before your eyes every day, especially death; and you will never have anything contemptible in your thoughts or crave anything excessively. —Epictetus, Handbook 21
[T]he human condition would indeed be far happier if it were equally in the power of men to keep silent as to talk. But experience teaches us with abundant examples that nothing is less within men's power than to hold their tongues [...]. —Baruch Spinoza, Ethics Part III, Proposition 2, Scholium
A wise man [...] proportions his belief to the evidence. —David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (Section X, "Of Miracles")
I have no parents: I make the heavens and earth my parents. I have no home: I make awareness my home. I have no life or death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death. I have no divine power: I make honesty my divine power. I have no means: I make understanding my means. I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret. I have no body: I make endurance my body. I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes. I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears. I have no limbs: I make promptness my limbs. I have no strategy: I make "unshadowed by thought" my strategy. I have no designs: I make "seizing opportunity by the forelock" my design. I have no miracles: I make "right action" my miracles. I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles. I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics. I have no talents: I make ready wit my talent. I have no friends: I make my mind my friend. I have no enemy: I make carelessness my enemy. I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor. I have no castle: I make immovable-mind my castle. I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword. —attributed to an anonymous samurai