Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quiz July 6

Happy Independence Day weekend!

PW 10-12
1. Walking puts us in touch with what?

2. What was the first philosophic treatise on walking?

3. How did Thoreau say we could get off the news-cycle "treadmill"?

4. What did the Lakota love?

  • "When you walk, news becomes unimportant." (81) Agree? 
  • What do you make of Emerson's "transparent eye-ball"? 85
  • "To walk is to experience the real." (94) Agree? How else do you experience reality? How do you recognize illusion?
  • Thoreau "wanted his [High School] lessons to alternate with long walks." (87) Would that work, pedagogically, in our time? 
  • Comment: I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”  Thoreau, "Walking"
  • "The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it..." By this standard, do we all spend too much on most things?
  • "Thoreau, Emerson recalls, had made it a principle to give no more time to writing than he had to walking... Writing ought to be testimony to a wordless, living experience... 'How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.'" (95-6) And yet Thoreau read voraciously, and wrote about what he'd read as well as what he experienced at firsthand. How can we strike a proper balance between experience and culture, in forming our own ideas, without over or under-valuing either?
  • "To walk in the early morning is to understand the strength of natural beginnings." (98) Do you have to be a literal "morning person" to understand this? Note that HDT also said "morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me" - does that have to happen before noon?
  • "The sun is but a morning star," said HDT at the end of Walden. What does that mean to you?
  • "One world at a time," said HDT at the end of his life. What would Plato and Aristotle say?
  • Do you like walking in the cold? 103
  • Do you get more energy from walking in landscapes than in the gym or on the treadmill? If so, is the explanation biochemical, psychological, existential, or what?
"The impulse to read Self-Reliance is significant here, as is the holiday itself —my favorite secular one for being public and for its implicit goal of leaving us only as it found us: free... Richard Ford, Independence Day

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried..." Emerson, Self-reliance

23-"Feeling is All": the Triumph of the Romantics
1. Who found "bliss" in the French Revolution?

2. Pending the social contract's imposed submission to the General Will, what was the Romantic cure for commercial corruption?

3. What were Aristotle's three unities?

4. For Shelley the problem with political revolutions was what?

  • Should we draw any large conclusions about human nature and revolutionary zeal from the horrors of the French Reign of Terror? Are utopian visions inherently empty or beyond our reach? Is hope for a peaceful and non-exploitative world naive?
  • Is it possible to hold a romantic view of nature that emulates but does not "worship" it?
  • Hope "starts with a man walking alone in a forest." (412) Are Thoreau and Wordsworth, then, kindred hopeful spirits? Do they offer a constructive example of how to live in the modern world?
  • Do you ever experience Blake's "world in a grain of Sand... And eternity in an hour"? He was considered a mystic, but isn't this a formula that offers to naturalize "eternity"?
  • Why do you think the romantic poets were so drawn to long solitary walks? Is it because extended exercise opens a mystic portal of some kind, offering a glimpse of Reality? Or because they release "feel-good" biochemicals? Or...?
  • Schopenhauer "recommended [suicide] to his readers," presumably after they bought his books. (417) Faust's Mephistopheles said "All that exists deserves to be destroyed." (418) Is this nihilism? Is it defensible in any respect?
  • Can Shelley's atheism be reconciled with his poetic "emanations from the Godhead"? Does it suffice to say that "poetry is not like reasoning"? 423
  • Are artists the "advance guard of the human spirit" in our day? What role does art play in our culture, and what role should it play? 424 What do you think of Faulkner's high-minded challenge to artists "help man endure by lifting his heart"?
  • Are poets politically relevant?

How Romanticism Ruined Love...

24-Victorian Crossroads: Hegel, Marx, and Mill
1. How did French peasants and shopkeepers shock the leaders of the revolution?

2. How did Hegel's Idea resemble and differ from Plato's Ideas?

3. How did Marx alter Hegel's "dialectic"?

4. What was of overriding importance to J.S. Mill?

  • If Marxist revolution is inevitable, why did Marx say the point of philosophy is to change the world? 
  • Have we become a nation of consumers, largely indifferent to the fate and well-being of others?
  • Can we reasonably construe Hegel's notion of history as the "unfolding of Spirit" in naturalistic terms, as (say) the progressive expansion of freedom and conscientious regard for the well-being of others? Do Hegelians and Marxists have to endorse some form of statism that denigrates individual freedom?
  • "False consciousness is the Marxist version of the cave... 'religion is the opiate of the masses.'" 439  Can any 'ism plausibly assert its own unique intellectual independence? 
  • What do you think of Mill's discovery of Wordsworth and the value of "a walk through the mountains or down a London street"? 443 Does our present approach to education obscure this?   
  • Is Mill's libertarianism guilty of either "elitism" or excessive "eccentricity"? 448
  • Can socialism preserve individual choice without unduly constraining the freedom of markets, as implied in Mill's later writings? Can "redistribution of income and resources" ever be truly voluntary? 448-9

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thoughts in the Outdoors

    I am writing this outside in my notepad after walking for awhile. I parked at the furthest parking spot from the entrance to the BAS to allow myself more time to contemplate about my post. I have been having trouble with laptop so the school computer has become my next option. I walked into the BAS and realized that the cold, muted environment only dampened my creativity. Outside in the unpredictable environment, newfound thoughts are stimulated, my creativity only limited by the atmosphere holding me within its warm hands. The ever-shifting bounce of the flowers on the small trees ahead provide a means of escape from the controlling vision trained by hours of staring at a screen in a cubicle. The blades of grass seem like letters written elaborately on a green canvas, the concrete a "tabula rasa". The trees loom over me in the same way that a teacher would, studying to see if my work is substantial. The chirp of the birds, and the bees buzzing is much better than the creak of a chair or the hum of the printer.
    As a philospher I understand how writing outdoors is much more edifying. I understand the argument made about the outdoors being the catalyst for the foundation of abstract thoughts... so much more out here to draw inspiration from. I am aware of myself and through this introversion I am able to extrovert my thoughts onto this notepad to be read later by the class. It's a pleasant coincidence that I now at this moment realize that my word count will be around 250 words upon completion of this page. I feel that this is start of something new. Perhaps I might not go on to elaborate adventures such as Rimbaud, or have rambling walks like Nietzche. I might however create my own sort of routine to later develop into a tradition of my own at a later moment my life. Spending enough time in the outdoors might result in more abstract analysis of the new environments in which I find myself. This will pave the pathway for me to reassess my previous workings inside my own mind and to see a new perspective at analyzing the thoughts of others. Although this post isn't full of complex arguments or logical analysis, it's simple. Which is the message I feel that Gros is trying to convey in his book so far. Hopefully, my post is readable and relatable.

Philosophy Walking Music Sound Track :)

Hi Class,

I have another addition to our musical sound track by the lovely Jill Scott! This ties into my post this week about walking. Walking can be an outlet for anger; however, it can bring happiness and creativity. Or make a nice first date!

Anger, Happiness and Walking

  At first glance I was in agreement with the statement “Anger is needed to leave, to walk" but after taking some time to think about it I disagree. I like to think of myself as an optimist so I almost, ALWAYS, find a positive outlook on situations. I agree that walking can be an outlet for anger. It’s common to hear people say “I went for a walk to blow some steam or even to clear my head.” Walking could actually deescalate a hostile situation. Chapter 5 mentioned how Rousseau wasn’t walking to escape the world and horrors. Walking could be used for this purpose. When my kids have a conflict with one another I make them take a walk before we sit down to resolve it. This gives them time release anger, frustration and even figure out a resolution. So yes, I agree that walking can be an outlet to release anger.

I also agree that walking can be a time of happiness and celebration. Some examples of this are: a bride walking down the aisle to meet her groom, a college student walking across stage receiving their degree or a nice family stroll through the park spending quality time together. Walking can also generate creativity as it did for Rousseau. “Rousseau claimed to be incapable of thinking properly, of composing, creating or finding inspiration except when walking.” This week I had to choreograph an African dance number for the student’s end of the year showcase. On my stroll through the neighborhood, movements immediately came to me. Now this was easy to do because I didn’t have any distracts. Being outside was peaceful and I enjoyed it. It was like having the best of both worlds. Enjoyment and creativity all at once while walking.  

Walking to drain away envies and grudges.

•           "Those long hours of walking drained away envies and grudges... old hatreds suddenly appeared vain, petty, futile." (75-6) How long would you have to walk, to experience such a drain? (Or are you one of those rare humans without envies and grudges?)
Don Enss

            As I read about Rousseau’s journey through life in both Herman and Gros and how his walking evolved until in the end, he was walking, “with nothing left to hope for or expect. Just life, allowing yourself to exist,” I was reminded of a couple of quotes, one from Andy Dufresne and “Red” Redding in the Shawshank Redemption – “Get busy living or get busy dying,” and one by Dylan Thomas, “Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Do not go gentle into that good night.”

            For all of Rousseau’s attempt to capture the essence of primitive man, the “noble savage,” I believe he missed a far greater concept that has transcended human beings from the beginning of life as a single cell, that is the desire to survive and thrive and along the way to help others achieve the same.

            In the past few weeks we have lost some special people, Muhammed Ali and now Pat Summitt who accepted death but who have left a legacy of helping so many people. We have also been witness to some horrific scenes of violence in Orlando and Istanbul and acts of courage and caring by individuals who put others’ lives before their own.

            Walking to reflect is good for everyone but walking to lift up another will uplift you and you will realize that there is still plenty to hope for. Rousseau didn’t have to see his life drain away, he just needed to get busy living.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Happiness and Property

The idea of private property, I believe has severely limited our personal freedoms. That being said I also believe that the institution of private property is entirely necessary for a modern society to exist. A modern society must construct boundaries of what is and is not owned in order to curb conflict over resources. Primitive societies, such as the Native American’s did not have the concept of private property as we do today because they did not need it. Their villages or clans were small enough that in order to survive they needed to share what resources they had.  Once a group of people had begun an agrarian lifestyle, there becomes a need for private property as the resources need to be designated to person who grew them. I feel that in this process wealth begins to be created then power obtained. One person (or a small group) begins to have much more than everyone else and things are needed to trade for that grain. Before the agrarian lifestyle anyone who wanted food simply needed to go forage it. However, because agrarian life can support so many more people there becomes less resources for people to go forage and the person controlling the harvested resource becomes very powerful. He can begin to dictate what is owned by who and what the laws are.
 In modern America absolutely everything is owned. More than it just being owned it is constantly for sale. If you have little or no money in America you have very little freedoms. What do you do with your time with no money? You could go for a walk in a publicly owned park, but you couldn’t use the resources for yourself. You can purchase the rights to hunt for game, but you cannot hunt enough to feed yourself and certainly not sustain a family. If you could afford your own private property you could grow your own food. John Locke said that property (only in the form of land I surmise) owned by anyone who “improved upon” it. Therefore, according to Locke in his work, “On Property” anyone could own land if they simply went into an area and built a house or farm. This work was the backbone for the Homestead act of 1862

In conclusion, I feel that the lack of property is more condusive to the happiness of a society that is hunter gather or perhaps even animal husbandry, but once the agrarian lifestyle is introduced it forms new problems pertaining to wealth that eventually will make that groups denizens unhappy.

Rousseau's birthday

From The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the man who wrote, “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (books by this author), born in Geneva in 1712. He left home at 16 and wandered around Europe for the next 14 years. He moved to Paris when he was 30, and took up with a group of philosophers. He also took up with Thérèse Le Vasseur, a semi-literate laundry maid at his hostel; the two began a lifelong relationship that produced five children, according to Rousseau. He placed all of them into orphanages.

Rousseau was well versed in music, and wrote ballets and operas; he could easily have been successful as a composer, but the stage made his Swiss Calvinist sensibilities uneasy. One day he was walking to visit his friend and fellow philosopher Denis Diderot, who was in jail, and he had an epiphany: modern progress had corrupted rather than improved mankind. He became famous overnight upon publication of his essay A Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (1750). The essay informed nearly everything else he wrote, and eventually he would turn away completely from music and the theater to focus on literature.

In Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1755) he continued to explore the theme that civilization had led to most of what was wrong with people: living in a society led to envy and covetousness; owning property led to social inequality; possessions led to poverty. Society exists to provide peace and protect those who owned property, and therefore government is unfairly weighted in favor of the rich. In it, he wrote: “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” His next two books, a criticism of the educational system (Émile) and a treatise of political philosophy (The Social Contract), both published in 1762, caused such an uproar that he fled France altogether. His work would prove inspirational to the leaders of the French Revolution, and they adopted the slogan from The Social Contract: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

He grew increasingly paranoid in his later years, convinced that his friends were plotting against him. He spent some time in England with David Hume, but his persecution complex eventually alienated him from most of his associates, and he found comfort only with Thérèse, whom he finally married in 1768.

Friday, June 24, 2016

DQs for June 29th class

Discussion Questions for June 29th class.

Don Enss

Locke argued that we are not born with any innate ideas or knowledge about anything. Everything we know, we have to learn from outside ourselves. The mind is (in Locke’s most famous metaphor) a tabula rasa, a blank slate. Do you agree or disagree? How does this affect the nature/nurture discussions?

In “Slowness,” Gros says, “It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually renders them familiar, and that “the lesson was that in walking the authentic sign of assurance is a good slowness.” Why in “Solitudes” does he say, “When I am walking I always observe myself, egg myself on?” This sounds like a more competitive striving to achieve the goal rather than enjoying the moment. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Plato glorified Sparta, he saw only what he viewed as its ideal society, but what do we really know about Spartan society. Might it have been viewed more realistically and less romantically by individuals who had to live within it? Would North Korea today be an example of a Platonian Ideal society?

Chapters 21-22 and chapters 5-8 questions

June 29 Chapters 21-22 and Chapter 5-8 questions
Don Enss

Chapter 21. Aristotle in a Periwig: The Culture of the Enlightenment

1.      According to Herman, “virtually every eighteenth-century artistic endeavor from poetry to music and painting was governed by rules drawn from Aristotle’s __________ and _________________?
2.      What was one of the two things John Adams said he learned from reading Plato?
3.      According to Lord Kames, human history could be divided into four distinct stages of growth. What are they?
4.      Locke argued that we are not born with any innate ideas or knowledge about anything. Everything we know, we have to learn from outside ourselves. The mind is (in Locke’s most famous metaphor) a __________ ___________, a ___________ ____________?

Chapter 22. Starting Over: Plato, Rousseau, and Revolution

1.      What did Rousseau do on a day in 1749 that Frederic Gros say that Nietzsche and Thoreau also thought one should do? It had a profound influence on his thinking and writing.
2.      What were the two simple propositions that Rousseau’s critique of Plato boil down to?
3.      According to Kant, “the task ahead lies in creating institutions that will reflect our true moral nature, the voice of conscience that recognizes certain moral actions as an urgent duty without room for reflection or compromise.” He termed that voice the _____________?
4.      Why did the ordinary people resist Rousseau’s evangelism?

Chapter 5-8 A Philosophy of Walking

1.      What is the illusion of speed?
2.      Gros finds in Rimbaud that sense of walking as __________?
3.      Why does Gros say that it is impossible to be alone when walking?

4.      “Thoreau observed repeatedly that silence usually taught him more than the company of others. Just as there are several solitudes, so there are several silences.” What were some of the silences that Gros listed?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Walking And More Walking

In the spirit of Angel and Dr. Oliver, how can we forget Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made For Walking. It's not exactly Rihanna or Nicki Minaj but pretty risqué for 1966.

I love to keep the collective highlighter feature on in Kindle. This passage was the most highlighted in Chapter 5 entitled Slowness

There seems to be a not-so-undercurrent zeitgeist of simplicity pounding at the door of progress, sprawling across the country's once-foliaged landscape in a startling spectacle of concrete and steel. 

"But haste and speed accelerate time, which passes more quickly, and two hours of hurry shorten a day. Every minute is torn apart by being segmented, stuffed to bursting. You can pile a mountain of things into an hour. Days of slow walking are very long: they make you live longer, because you have allowed every hour, every minute, every second to breathe, to deepen, instead of filling them up by straining the joints...The eye is quick, active, it thinks it has understood everything, grasped it all. When you are walking, nothing really moves: it is rather that presence is slowly established in the body." (pp. 37-38). 

People seem to fantasize or at least romanticize slowing down. I say, in a pluralistic fashion, that we embrace both. Why not utilize the gigabit speed of the modern internet as well as other technologies to give ourselves that "extra" time to slow down, take a walk, and take in the newly-laid concrete and steel. 

More to come, but I have an idea: a philosophy pub walk. I think the Green Dragon in Murfreesboro offers happy hour prices to anyone who walks to the pub. I'm not sure of the distance requirements, but it's a thought. 

DQ:  Do you feel like we should slow down, as a society, or does the hustle and bustle equal productiveness? 

Quiz June 29

Let's all try to post by or before Tuesday each week, to give ourselves a better opportunity to reflect on one another's reflections before class.

PW 5-9 (A bonus chapter this week, to capture J-J Rousseau in both our texts)

1. What do long days of slow walking do for you, according to Gros?

2. What did Rimbaud need, to walk and make progress?

3. How do walkers "possess" the world?

4. What is "chatter," and what does it do?

5. In his later years what was Rousseau walking to find?


  • Do you agree that slowing down actually stretches and expands your perception of time? If you could, would you throw away all your clocks? Is the constant monitoring of ticking time one of civilization's great boons or greater disasters? Or both?
  • Comment: "Anger is needed to leave, to walk." 48 (My comment: that's insane!)
  • Does "walking as flight" (52) necessarily imply a pedestrian version of running away? 
  • "When you walk you soon become two." (56) Is this just the old Cartesian dualism rearing its head again, for a French intellectual? Isn't walking just as apt to create a perception of unity rather than duality?
  • Is there anything wrong, philosophically, with walking not in silence but with earbuds?

  • "The mere sight of a desk and chair was enough to make Rousseau feel sick..." 65 Do you ever feel that way? How do you respond? How do you feel about standing and treadmill desks?
  • "He liked nothing so much as going for long walks, to kill the days." 66 Isn't this inimical to the true spirit of peripateticism? (Thoreau said you can't kill time without injuring eternity...)
  • "...at sixteen or even twenty you carry no burden but your cheerful hopes... It is the walk of happy daybreaks, the resplendent mornings of life." 70 Beautiful sentiment, but did YOU feel that way at age 16 or 20? Do you suppose human nature has changed since JJR's time, in this respect?
  • "...homo viator, walking man - the natural man, one not disfigured by culture, education, art... before books or salons, before society or paid labour." 73 Are these cultural developments univocally disfiguring? Or would you lay more of the blame at the feet of, say, auto manufacturers and bad urban planning?
  • "Those long hours of walking drained away envies and grudges... old hatreds suddenly appeared vain, petty, futile." (75-6) How long would you have to walk, to experience such a drain? (Or are you one of those rare humans without envies and grudges?)
  • Don: In “Slowness,” Gros says, “It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually renders them familiar, and that “the lesson was that in walking the authentic sign of assurance is a good slowness.” Why in “Solitudes” does he say, “When I am walking I always observe myself, egg myself on?” This sounds like a more competitive striving to achieve the goal rather than enjoying the moment. Do you agree or disagree and why?
    Dean: Do you feel like we should slow down, as a society, or does the hustle and bustle equal productiveness?
21-Aristotle in a Periwig: The Culture of the Enlightenment
1. Who called Plato's Republic "nonsense"?

2. What term for a new moral perspective did the 3d Earl of Shaftesbury coin?

3. Where was "the Athens of the North"?

4. What single principle keeps civil society dynamic and expanding, according to David Hume?

  • The Enlightenment was the Age of Locke, says Herman, but it was the empiricist/rationalist synthesizer Kant who gave us the slogan "Sapere Aude" - Dare to know, be wise, use your reason, think. Was Locke daring enough? Does his primary/secondary quality distinction hold up? 366
  • Was the 18th century unfair to Plato?
  • How can we "be sure we're not just living an endless dream (or a nightmare, as in the movie The Matrix"? 366 Why does it matter?
  • Why did "enlightened" people tolerate the African slave trade for so long?  369
  • Do commerce and capitalism make people better? 370
  • Comment: "Love may fail but courtesy will prevail." Kurt Vonnegut
  • If the 18th century was all about politeness and polish, refined personalities and smooth manners, what is the 21st century about? If we've regressed on this front, why? 371-2
  • What would Voltaire say about Brexit? What would de Tocqueville say about Drumpf?
  • What's your view of progress? Has civil society evolved, is it evolving? What might usher in the next Dark Ages?
  • Do you thirst for "opulence" and a more "splendid" life? Does your cooperativeness depend on that, and on your perceived self-interest? 381
  • Do you look as favorably as Herman on free markets as inseparable from freedom in general? 382
  • Has Herman omitted anything important in his accounts of David Hume and Adam Smith?
  • Don: Locke argued that we are not born with any innate ideas or knowledge about anything. Everything we know, we have to learn from outside ourselves. The mind is (in Locke’s most famous metaphor) a tabula rasa, a blank slate. Do you agree or disagree? How does this affect the nature/nurture discussions?

22-Starting Over: Plato, Rousseau, and Revolution
1. Who told Rousseau that he'd "lost the habit of walking on all fours"?

2. Rousseau calls our truer, better selves what?

3. When did Kant interrupt his daily post-luncheon walk?

4. Who called Rousseau "the insane Socrates"?

  • How would you respond to Rousseau's essay contest question about the link between the arts and sciences and human goodness? 387 Do you see any truth at all in the myth of the noble savage? 
  • Does the institution of private property limit or expand our freedom? 390
  • Is the daily 9 to 5 routine a "bleak cave of capitalism"? 391 Is education as we pursue it now a way out, a way to enlightenment, progress, and happiness? Or is it merely another enabling and reinforcing "chain"? 
  • "Every patriot hates foreigners"-Why doesn't this statement alone suffice to discredit patriotism, and JJR's approval of it to discredit him? 393
  • "We can be either individuals or citizens, but not both." 395 In the light of modern history is there any inoffensive way to unpack that statement?
  • Do you see any important differences between Rousseau's General Will and Kant's Categorical Imperative? 396
  • "JJR loved humanity more than he liked human beings" 397 - hasn't this always been true of most ideologues and reformers? 
  • Isn't compulsory taxation to fund public education and other social goods a form of "forcing people to be free"? 
  • Don: Plato glorified Sparta, he saw only what he viewed as its ideal society, but what do we really know about Spartan society. Might it have been viewed more realistically and less romantically by individuals who had to live within it? Would North Korea today be an example of a Platonian Ideal society?
Don's ?s
WATCH: The Is/Ought Problem; LISTEN:Peter Millican on Hume's SignificanceMelissa Lane on Rousseau on Civilization (PB); Hume & the philosophy of good taste (HI); Hume (IOT); Hume the greatest philosopher? (IOT)
An old post-Rousseau and Kant (10.4.12)

We discussed Jean-Jacques Rousseau in class yesterday. He was an emotional thinker with a romantically-inflated opinion of human nature and the “noble savages” who would have embodied it in a hypothetical state of nature.
What’s most interesting to me about him is that his Emile so arrested the attention of Immanuel Kant that he allowed it to disrupt his daily walking routine “for a few days.” Nothing short of seriously-incapacitating illness would do that to me. Apparently Kant was typically the same way, except for just that once.
Kant could get very upset if well-meaning acquaintances disturbed his routines. Accepting on one occasion an invitation to an outing into the country, Kant got very nervous when he realised that he would be home later than his usual bedtime, and when he was finally delivered to his doorstep just a few minutes after ten, he was shaken with worry and disgruntlement, making it at once one of his principles never to go on such a tour again.
So what’s in Emile that could so dis-comport a creature of such deeply ingrained habit? A generally-favorable evaluation of human nature, and a prescription for education reflective of that evaluation. Kant thought highly enough of Rousseau’s point of view to hold us all to a high standard of reasoned conduct. We should always treat others as ends in themselves, never as mere means to our own ends. We have a duty to regard one another with mutual respect.
The character of Emile begins learning important moral lessons from his infancy, thorough childhood, and into early adulthood. His education relies on the tutor’s constant supervision. The tutor must even manipulate the environment in order to teach sometimes difficult moral lessons about humility, chastity, and honesty. IEP
Yes, fine. But what precisely in Emile kept Kant off the streets, until he was finished with it?
Don’t know yet. But I love a good mystery. I’ll look into it. Could have something to do with other characters in the story. “Rousseau discusses in great detail how the young pupil is to be brought up to regard women and sexuality.” Now maybe we’re getting somewhere.
Or not. Rousseau’s observations regarding women sound pretty sexist and ill-informed, nothing Kant (as a  relatively un-Enlightenend male) wouldn’t already have shared.
Maybe it’s what Emile says about freedom that so arrested Kant? “The will is known to me in its action, not in its nature.”
Or religion? “It is categorically opposed to orthodox Christian views, specifically the claim that Christianity is the one true religion.” Maybe.
The Vicar claims that the correct view of the universe is to see oneself not at the center of things, but rather on the circumference, with all people realizing that we have a common center. This same notion is expressed in the Rousseau’s political theory, particularly in the concept of the general will.
That’s very promising. Kant’s Copernican Revolution etc.
I wonder if the mystery of Kant’s lost walks could be related, too, to another of fellow-pedestrian Rousseau’s books, Reveries of the Solitary Walker?
The work is divided into ten “walks” in which Rousseau reflects on his life, what he sees as his contribution to the public good, and how he and his work have been misunderstood. It is interesting that Rousseau returns to nature, which he had always praised throughout his career… The Reveries, like many of Rousseau’s other works, is part story and part philosophical treatise. The reader sees in it, not only philosophy, but also the reflections of the philosopher himself.
That may not be a clue but it’s a definite inspiration for my own Philosophy Walks project, still seeking its legs.
BTW: we know Rousseau had a dog. Did Kant? If so, wasn’t he neglecting his duty to walk her?
An old post, 9.5.14
Walking to work

I usually begin my school day, the moment I step out of the car after my daily driving commute down I-24, with a stroll around campus. Like D.B. Johnson's Henry, I prefer walking to work.

Unlike Henry, I'm not usually hyper-observant of detail during my morning ramble. I tend to be focused on whatever subject awaits classroom discussion, or unfocused and wool-gathering.

But yesterday, for whatever reason (or none), I found myself attending closely to the words at my feet in front of the Student Union. Decade by decade, they record chiseled highlights of the history of our university. I didn't slow long enough to take them all in, but I've decided from now on I'll register a bit more of them each day. Eventually I'll ingest it all, and I'll be just a bit smarter about the institution that butters my bread.

You never step in the same river twice, and there's no reason why you have to cross the same campus twice either. Attention is its own reward: behold, our esteemed president's John Hancock etched in stone. "Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!" And smile, Ozymandias.

There's a lot more to David Hume's philosophy than we get from Arthur Herman. Hume on miracles (bbc video)...

How Bacon & Rousseau expired (Simon Critchley video)... Rousseau's account of his perilous encounter with a Great Dane, in Reveries of the Solitary Walker:  “Entirely taken up by the present, I could remember nothing; I had no distinct notion of myself as a person, nor had I the least idea of what had just happened to me. I did not know who I was, nor where I was; I felt neither pain, fear, nor anxiety. I watched my blood flowing as I might have watched a stream, without even thinking that the blood had anything to do with me. I felt throughout my whole being such a wonderful calm, that whenever I recall this feeling I can find nothing to compare with it in all the pleasures that stir our lives.”

Rousseau's Dog-In 1766 philosopher, novelist, composer, and political provocateur Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a fugitive, decried by his enemies as a dangerous madman. Meanwhile David Hume—now recognized as the foremost philosopher in the English language—was being universally lauded as a paragon of decency. And so Rousseau came to England with his beloved dog, Sultan, and willingly took r ...more

Russell on Rousseau (audio) - "This conception of being 'forced to be free' is very metaphysical... was Galileo 'forced to be free' when the Inquisition compelled him to recant? ...Hegel, who owed much to Rousseau, adopted his misuse of the word 'freedom,' and defined it as the right to obey the police, or something..."
Hume & Rousseau, 3.23.16

If you missed it:

Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise Walking

...The recommendations for exercise are 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity for adults, or about 30 minutes each weekday.

Moderate intensity is probably much less than you think. Walking briskly, at 3 to 4 miles per hour or so, qualifies. So does bicycling slower than 10 miles an hour. Anything that gets your heart rate somewhere between 110 and 140 beats per minute is enough. Even vacuuming, mowing the lawn or walking your dog might qualify.

Today, my goals are much more modest. Trekking from my office to the clinic and back again gives me 30 minutes of exercise. Or, I walk to the supermarket from my office to grab lunch, at a mile each way. In colder weather, I spend half an hour on the elliptical machine. Doing this five days a week gets me the activity I need... (continues)
Too Much Democracy? Rebecca Newberger Goldstein Explains What Really Worried Plato

Arthur Herman speaks (on CSPAN)...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 22. I'm Walking!

After discussing this topic I was reminded of a song by a popular gospel group named  MaryMary that talks about "Walking". Have a listen!

Mathematics and Religion

My mind has been pondering the same inquiries as before about Science and Religion, and the concept of the golden mean, geometry, and the natural absolute truth that composes all of these. Perhaps the final conclusion is that the natural absolute truth in God. In a Spinozan fashion, that which is all-encompassing and unexplained must be some power greater than ourselves and must be god. On Pg. 334, it is stated that "when math yields a pattern of harmonious proportion...he is standing at the threshold for truth. I also found interest in the concept of Newton conducting biblical research. It seems that every great character that has contributed to some astounding discovery within the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition has had also a simultaneous study within religion. So too in ym parapaetic walks and my rationalizations about nature have I thought about the harmonious relationship between myself and God. From my cave-dwelling within the world of books, internet, television, and even my sleepy thoughts pondered before I finally fall asleep, those same thoughts are carried with my into the realm of knowledge and into the sun. Where they seem to find some sort of relaxation and heightened consciousness unbeknownst to me living in my cave-like structure. It seems that Galileo completed an identical task, we he took his inquires and placed them above the stars and concluded that God is behind nature and reason. It seems the two are distinct. Reason existing within the cave that is our mind and nature being that extraneous substance. When the two formally meet one another, there exists God.

June 22 - Walking In Memphis

Do you find that a long walk (hike, bike ride, or some other personally-functional equivalent) makes you feel more yourself, or less like a self at all? 

Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn is 90’s classic tune that takes the listener on a harmonious tour of Memphis, Tennessee. Unfortunately, I was unaware of the original tune. My first introduction to this tune was the remix version by Yo Gotti featuring 8 Ball. Yo Gotti’s version speaks to me differently, due to the fact that I have walked the streets that Yo Gotti raps about on the track. The comparison between the two songs reflects greatly on how the common thread between the songs serves as a means to examine one’s self.

When I am in the city of Memphis and I walk past the locations mentioned by Marc Cohn, I may be viewed as less than by those whom may fear me. I have lived in Tennessee for the majority of my life. Guess what? I have never been to Graceland, but I have frequented the NIKE store that is less than a mile away from Graceland on numerous occasions. While Marc reminisces about Elvis Presley and his time at Sun Records, I am immersed in the history of Stax Records and the high school that currently resides on its property. 

For me, a long walk through Memphis makes me question my self and feel more secure in myself, at the same time. While walking in Memphis can provide a bit of suspensive freedom, I must stay alert to make sure that I do not find my life in a suspended moment in time (Gros 3).

Walking to think and write

"We do not belong to those who have ideas only among books," said Nietzsche, "it is our habit to think outdoors." Do you find your own indoor thoughts more bookish, your outdoor thoughts more natural and free? Do we need more practice during class, to notice the difference?

Don Enss

            According to Solnit, Rousseau “laid the groundwork for walking” not pacing back and forth, but the walking that took Nietzsche out into the landscape. While Rousseau walked, he read and decided that man was better being ignorant than informed. The idea that ignorance brings happiness is a romantic one which does not help when you are crossing the desert and not understanding that the water ahead is a mirage or when you are in Rio for the Olympics quenching your thirst with cesspool water.
            Walking is physically beneficial because exercise helps to improve blood circulation, some of which goes to the brain as well as the muscles. Being outside is usually more beneficial because you are getting fresh air and sunshine, unless you are in Delhi, India, Karachi, Pakistan, Lanzhou China, or even in some cities in the USA.
            I like going outside to sit or walk just to give my eyes and ears a chance to experience and absorb sights and sounds: bees and butterflies alighting on a cone flower, doves cooing, rosters crowing, clouds floating in the sky, dogs barking, and birds singing. I enjoy looking at the trees as the wind ruffles their leaves and feeling the gentle breeze on my skin. These are moments to reflect on life and like Nietzsche spoke about writing, “An author who composes while walking, on the other hand, is free from such bonds; (referring to using hundreds of books to write another book) his thought is not the slave of other volumes, not swollen with verifications, not weighted with the thought of others.”

            While walking is ideal, it is not essential. Someone confined to bed or in a wheelchair can derive the same benefit of being outside, pausing to be one with nature. We live in such a stressful, productivity-oriented society that we seldom have time to enjoy these precious moments before reality calls us back inside.

What would Plato say about this?

The New Yorker (@NewYorker)
Math is about nothing. Math is the "Seinfeld" of high school education, an anti-algebra political scientist argues: nyer.cm/0aoEKlQ

Thoughts on walking

    I have noticed that the “outside” world is as Gros says, a transitional place in our modern world. However, it is interesting to note that this has only been the case in the last few hundred years. A few centuries ago the outside was constant and there wasn’t much difference between the outside and the inside. As I’ve stated earlier in class I have a brother who literally lives in the woods in a camper in order to escape modern society. He lives in the outside. He and I talk frequently and he describes to me the unpleasantness of the “Inside” he experiences. Most things have become too loud and busy for him to handle anymore. The pace at which he lives is a crawl, there is no rush involved.
   I frequently go for walks at the Stones River National Battlefield. During these walks is really the only time I am outside. Even during these relatively short walks I can see the pace of life change into a slower, more comfortable stride. What is it about walking or perhaps just being in the “outside” as the author puts it that causes this? Is it the walking in itself or more of the outdoor part of it? Would you gain as much from walking inside as you would outside? I don’t think you would experience the same effect.
   Nietzsche constantly went on walks, especially when his head was hurting with the constant migraines that he received.  I have very bad teeth and occasionally get tooth aches. I always seem to end up walking to try and distract myself from the pain. I am uncertain whether or not it actually alleviates the pain or merely distracts me. Upon reading of Nietzsche’s constant pain and his effort to “walk it off” as the old saying goes, I found a kindred spirit or perhaps a brother in arms to say the least. Is there a medical philosophy behind a person “walking it off”? I am unaware of any medical research to support it, however it is a very common belief. As Diogenes famously said, “It is done by walking”, a sentiment that I think of frequently while trying to walk off pain.

   Walking seems to be a simple yet powerful exercise. As a mode of transportation it is about the slowest thing you could do. However, it is also a powerful activity that causes people to think clearly as they stride. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Maths and Paths

I’m enjoying Gros’s The Philosophy of Walking. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m in my third week of walking and can relate, or if the text is, for me, way less Platonically contentious than Herman.  

I read Dr. Oliver’s post where he was initially “put off” by the author's deconstructive and textualist sensibility” and escaping personal identity, but he later reconsidered. The deconstruction—so far it was evident in Chapter 2—doesn’t bother me. Here’s an excerpt.

“What I mean is that by walking you are not going to meet yourself. By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history. Being someone is all very well for smart parties where everyone is telling their story, it’s all very well for psychologists’ consulting rooms. But isn’t being someone also a social obligation which trails in its wake – for one has to be faithful to the self-portrait – a stupid and burdensome fiction? The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life” (pp. 6-7).

I think I know what the Gros is getting at here. I’ve felt the loss-of-self while walking. Sometimes, it’s the ultimate come-as-you-are feeling—definitely not the pre-conceived expectations of social function decorum.

I liked the Call of the Wild mention too. I could relate to this as well—the idea to walk or head off somewhere unknown and start anew or try something else.

There’s a great film entitled Wild starring Reese Witherspoon that's about hiking the Pacific Crest Train in search of personal redemption. Although the film is about a protracted hiking trip, I think it can serve as a macrocosm of much shorter journeys.

Chapter 3 on Nietzsche was painful to read. I wonder what else he could have accomplished if he would have had access to modern medical treatment.  

“Think while walking, walk while thinking, and let writing be but the light pause, as the body on a walk rests in contemplation of wide open spaces” (p. 20).  Nice!

Do you think Herman is trying too hard to reconcile the science vs. religion debate, known as the "two chief world systems," by appropriating "traditional Aristotelian view of nature (Aristotle was wrong about almost everything) and "the power of observation and Platonic mathematics" (Plato's Forms are incoherent) in the bold face of modernity? Do we need "Platonic mathematics" for mathematics to work?  If we called them Bob's mathematics, would this add anything to the discussion and functionality--or do we need a razor (p. 336)? Does Platonic transcendence add anything useful?