November 17, 2005
Teaching them there kiddies.
My "mentor" in philosophy once told me that philosophy is "the science of everything." I'm certainly not into philosophy of science, but I've always liked science, regardless of not really having a talent for it (patience, focus, imagination, etc.). I was in the Biology Club in high school; I was even the dude holding the skeleton in the yearbook photo one year. I helped a friend of mine dissect something after school (I held the skull open) even though I wasn't taking science during my last year of high school. What I mean is, I think science is really interesting, fun, etc. My old metaphysics professor writes a lot about the nature of science in his magnum opus on metaphysics, a discipline which he counts as the science of being qua being. I took a year long course with him and argued about some things (he hates Pragmatism, and I can't seem to stop being a Pragmatist) and really admired the sheer rigor of his thinking. I've never known anyone to be more on top of practical concerns (paperwork, meetings, grading) than this gent, and he was in his mid-70s! I don't know why I mention this, but this is just disturbing: Kansas is changing their definition of science to leave room for the supernatural. Now, I'm not against accepting the unseen. Hamlet's words to Horatio are true, I think. Any good Pragmatist and any good Jamesian (which I suppose is a fair label for me, in a way) is aware of the strange mix of science and religion/belief in the supernatural that we inherit as Pragmatists and the openness which characterizes Pragmatism and calls us all to accept all parts of human experience. Even -- and especially, I think -- the parts we can't quantify. What I mean is that I am not against exploring what goes beyond the physical in human inquiry. But science is the not the universal study of the universe. Sciences are particular. Philosophy is universal. There's really no such thing as "science" anyway, just sciences. They all have their own methods and subject matter, as Blanchette points out. So the solution is clear. Less science for the youngins, and more philosophy. Come on, learning about cell structure is over the head of a fourth grader anyway, else the youngins would not learn that same stuff again in middle and high school. Maybe the whole idea of intelligent design or humankind's place in the universe is over the little dudes' and dudets' heads, too. But come, on. It's good exercise! There, Kansas. Your solution. Someone should start paying me for my services now. Kansas State School Board, call me. We'll talk. You can pay my student loans and buy me a laptop, and I'll teach ten teachers Plato, Aristotle, James, Nietzsche and Sartre (good start for the youngins). I have never taught before, and I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about. But I just kick enough ass that you should pay me for this anyway. Okay? Okay. I'll check the mail for your check when I get back from Maryland, for which I am leaving first thing in the morning.