Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Darwin-Sartre connection: absurd or what?

#introphil…although I'm not sure quite where (or even whether) this fits in the Introduction to Philosophy. My call: skepticism and the nature of reality. Being absurd does not make reality less real...or more. Truth? Don't even go there. Yet.

Resistance appeals to me. Camus (mentioned), not Sartre, has always been a favorite. I won't claim to be exploring essay topics, but that could be what my unconscious is up to. That or making sense of philosophy-by-mooc. Could I write 750 words on why I keep taking philosophy courses when I really prefer history? Ethics and applications (pragmatism?) are considerations. I'm trying to decide whether or not to take Michael Sandel's Justice EdX mooc. Haven't done (or whatever verb) an edX yet and am uncomfortable with a "true believer" intensity prevalent among Coursera followers. Brand and superprof loyalty sometimes approaches that of swooning bobby-soxers, 
A few weeks ago we linked to an article connecting Sartre’s insights about “authenticity” with recent work in cognitive science. This week, in an essay at the Chronicle of Higher Education, David P. Barash pursues a similar thread connecting existentialism and evolutionary biology, one he thinks shows that “science has not completely destroyed our understanding of free will" .... Barash points out that both evolutionists and “existentialists” from Pascal to Heidegger all see the universe in its sheer indifferent vastness as in some sense “absurd” from the human perspective....then asserts the “uniquely human potential to resist our own genes,” and makes the further claim that it’s exactly this ability that constitutes our humanity, thus making “rebellion” practically a duty. To Barash, that sounds unmistakably like Albert Camus’ “reconfiguring” of Descartes: “I rebel, therefore we exist.”
Plus more philosophy links, mostly from more or less main stream popular media, surely a sign of something.

The Stone
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The Stone Philosophy Links, March 13, 2013 -


Gordon Lockhart said...

Hi Vanessa - yes you must milk (that's the verb) the MOOC and also write your 750 words - no problem with your background! It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.

Re "true believer" - I think this might be transitory at least for participants. A first reaction to something that's very new, novel and free could be dispelled as reality of some sort sets in - 'premium' levels of engagement, intrusive ads etc - we'll see!

Vanessa Vaile said...

Yes, milk the MOOC, that would do. Plus, with my background in livestock management, surely I can come up with more...

As for the novelty wearing off and reality setting, I do hope so and without having to work through a global back list of potential worshipers. It beat indifference to learning and course subjects not always considered of popular interest.

Critical academics "milking a mooc" or so before passing judgement is also on my list of hope-so's

Watching it all is like reality TV for retired knowledge workers... maybe I can work that into a knowledge topic.

Did you see the news about proposed legislation in CA ~ an amendment to an Open Textbooks bill ~ to identify and approve outside courses for credit in all three state systems?

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