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Should the philosophy curriculum be revamped?

 
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 10:17 am
Hi,

It has been a while since I took philosophy in school. It was one of my favorite subjects, but it seems to me, 40 years later, that the curriculum at the time was too narrow, and from what I can tell, it has not changed much since. Do we need to begin to change the curriculum to make it more relevant?

Should equal weight be given to Eastern philosophies? Should there be more experiential aspects as opposed to emphasis on just thinking about it? I would like to see philosophers actually experience yoga and Taiji so that they can understand the actual experience that led to the philosophies.

Should there be more discussion of scientific thought such as Relativity and Quantum Physics, and the philosophical and metaphysical debates that surround them?

Should there be more emphasis placed on skepticism of facts as they are presented in the world. For example, yesterday I read of a medical study that showed "There is vigorous evidence that verebroplasty [a medical procedure that is used 100,000 times a year] doesn't work any better than control intervention." Yet, "Most doctors in this country thought taht the trials was unethical, because they were so convinced vertebropasty works. Several hospitals didn't allow their doctors to participate." Do we need to teach ourselves to be much more skeptical of that which we believe to be true?

Should we seek out the practical applications of what ideas in every day life, beyond the possible economic benefits, e.g. Ayn Rand? Should be look at how philosophy affects the way we live. For example, Eastern philosophies evolved from everyday observable events such as health practices and relationships with people.

Rich
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kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 11:07 am
@richrf,
richrf;82100 wrote:
Hi,

It has been a while since I took philosophy in school. It was one of my favorite subjects, but it seems to me, 40 years later, that the curriculum at the time was too narrow, and from what I can tell, it has not changed much since. Do we need to begin to change the curriculum to make it more relevant?

Should equal weight be given to Eastern philosophies? Should there be more experiential aspects as opposed to emphasis on just thinking about it? I would like to see philosophers actually experience yoga and Taiji so that they can understand the actual experience that led to the philosophies.

Should there be more discussion of scientific thought such as Relativity and Quantum Physics, and the philosophical and metaphysical debates that surround them?

Should there be more emphasis placed on skepticism of facts as they are presented in the world. For example, yesterday I read of a medical study that showed "There is vigorous evidence that verebroplasty [a medical procedure that is used 100,000 times a year] doesn't work any better than control intervention." Yet, "Most doctors in this country thought taht the trials was unethical, because they were so convinced vertebropasty works. Several hospitals didn't allow their doctors to participate." Do we need to teach ourselves to be much more skeptical of that which we believe to be true?

Should we seek out the practical applications of what ideas in every day life, beyond the possible economic benefits, e.g. Ayn Rand? Should be look at how philosophy affects the way we live. For example, Eastern philosophies evolved from everyday observable events such as health practices and relationships with people.

Rich


No. Next question?
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 12:01 pm
@richrf,
In some respects, it seems that modern universities have already done so:
http://www.philosophyforum.com/philosophy-forums/philosophy-101/5345-schools-philosophers.html

In post nr.9, I took the time to list the undergraduate philosophy courses listed in a large American university (the Athens of the West). There were three general areas of instruction, to wit:
1) Core curriculum of history of philosophy and the branches of philosophy, including philosophy of science
2) Interdisciplinary offerings ("Philosophy and X")
3) Contemporary practical philosophical applications

The range of offerings seems to indicate that universities have modified their course offerings and include many of the themes suggested.

Lest I offend anyone, I will withhold my own opinions about Eastern "philosophy" let alone giving it "equal weight" with Western philosophy, but I see no reason to include classes on Yoga, or flower arranging for that matter, in the philosophy department, since these can be pursued by students on their own and perhaps to their profit.
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 04:46 pm
@richrf,
Only those who choose to dedicate a serious amount of time and effort to the pursuit of philosophical discourse, insight and introspection will come to appreciate philosophy's monolithic omniscience in the matters concerning humanity and its place in the world. For those few, what is taught in school is rather inconsequential.

What must be done is this: the masses can no longer be allowed to hold a fundamental understanding about what philosophy -itself- is.

Philosophy is not content of thought, but modes of thought, ever-changing (evolving? --> everything temporal is, by nature, adaptive and compared by degrees -- those that are more adaptive survive) and dynamic, just as reality itself. Philosophy, for the individual, must build a consistent framework by which the totality of one's perceptions may be consistent within each other and with reference to external reality.

That way, the ideas that --make sense-- to the individual, do so because they are consistent with an abstract philosophical framework that is aligned with reality.
0 Replies
 
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 05:04 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;82112 wrote:
In some respects, it seems that modern universities have already done so:


Hi,

I have had only rudimentary contact with university philosophy classes and recent graduates, but it seems like nothing much has changed. Same curriculum, same idea, same discussions, and it all seems to be almost entirely confined to Western philosophy. It seems like philosophy is really stuck in a rut and needs to make it self more relevant.

In regards to yoga and Taiji: Eastern philosophy large manifested from experiential activities. The early practitioners of various life practices, e.g, medical and health practices, farming, fishing, meditation, astronomical observations, etc. all experienced certain things which led to the Eastern philosophies. They are highly grounded in an integrated view of all life observations, providing a very cohesive sense of who we are and how to apply principles to every day living. It seems like just reading about it, misses everything. It would be like saying one can understand the experience of fishing by reading about it. If one really wants to understand Eastern philosophy I think immersion is a better route.

Similarly, I believe, that a very strong understanding of recent Relativity and Quantum physics, will allow philosophers to integrate these ideas into everyday experiences, which can make it much more relevant.

By revamping the curriculum, I think philosophy can move itself out from the university sanctums, and into a very vital part of human growth and experience for everyone. BTW, this is what I do with my students. Make everything very relevant to their everyday life.

Thanks for your comments,

Rich

---------- Post added 08-09-2009 at 06:07 PM ----------

rhinogrey;82161 wrote:
Only those who choose to dedicate a serious amount of time and effort to the pursuit of philosophical discourse, insight and introspection will come to appreciate philosophy's monolithic omniscience in the matters concerning humanity and its place in the world.


I like to make philosophy very simple, accessible, and relevant. I discuss the basic practical applications of Eastern philosophy with my students all the time and how it is relevant to their health, their relationships, their own sense of what life might mean to them. Most of my students are older, and they may be more open to these kind of discussions because they have already experienced lots in life.

Rich
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 05:12 pm
@richrf,
richrf;82168 wrote:
Hi,




I like to make philosophy very simple, accessible, and relevant. I discuss the basic practical applications of Eastern philosophy with my students all the time and how it is relevant to their health, their relationships, their own sense of what life might mean to them. Most of my students are older, and they may be more open to these kind of discussions because they have already experienced lots in life.



Sounds great. But what has it to do with philosophy? It sounds like social work.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 05:14 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;82170 wrote:
Sounds great. But what has it to do with philosophy? It sounds like social work.


Exactly. Everything is connected. One thing flows from the other. My philosophy flows into my daily life and then back again. I treat them all as one. This is how one makes philosophy relevant.

Rich
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 05:19 pm
@richrf,
richrf;82172 wrote:
Exactly. Everything is connected. One thing flows from the other. My philosophy flows into my daily life and then back again. I treat them all as one. This is how one makes philosophy relevant.

Rich


Relevant to what? I want philosophy to be relevant to philosophy. By all means, do social work.
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 05:50 pm
@richrf,
richrf;82168 wrote:
I like to make philosophy very simple, accessible, and relevant. I discuss the basic practical applications of Eastern philosophy with my students all the time and how it is relevant to their 1. health, their 2. relationships, their own 3. sense of what life might mean to them.

These are things that cannot be told-to someone by way of attempting to convey abstract notions upon other abstract notions. This builds a temple of confused Ideals that is destined to crumble. 1 2 & 3 as I have labeled them above are all excellent applications of philosophical introspection, but dogma begets dogma no matter how you dress it. If people do not attain the tools, the modes of thinking necessary to bridge these connections (1-2-3) in their own lives for themselves, such 'insights' become falsified, and the foundation of worldview remains unshaken and resistant to the unstable nature of reality and becoming.

Quote:
Most of my students are older, and they may be more open to these kind of discussions because they have already experienced lots in life.


It's very difficult to teach old dogs new tricks.
0 Replies
 
Theages
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 06:25 pm
@richrf,
Nietzsche said that truth is antithetical to life (hence also to health and relationships, etc). While this might be a bit extreme, it is certainly the case that truth is indifferent to health and relationships and all that. Philosophy is only relevant to people's live to the extent that truth is relevant to people's lives, which is to say surprisingly little.
0 Replies
 
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 06:29 pm
@richrf,
I think one must be careful, if one attempts to make philosophy relevant, simple, and accessible, to not at the same time turn it into something that prevents it from making its real contribution to the world---relentless, rigourous, and sustained questioning of the world and of itself. What the world wants is not always truth, but more often than not to be entertained and to feel good about itself; philosophy, as Jaspers has said, is always a disturber of the peace.

And to do this, it must be in the world and at the same time permit itself to distance itself from the ordinary world; its ways are often difficult and demanding of its followers, for its tools and methods of explanation are complex and require both intense study and often isolated contemplation.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 09:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;82175 wrote:
Relevant to what? I want philosophy to be relevant to philosophy. By all means, do social work.


Relevant to people's lives, in a very real and meaningful way. All of my health practices which have allowed me to go 30 years without seeing a physician or taking any drugs, is a direct result of understand the Eastern view of life. It is very holistic. It takes into account everything. The physical life. The intellectual life. The spiritual life. And it wraps it all up in a way that has quite an impact on people's lives.

Rich

---------- Post added 08-09-2009 at 10:24 PM ----------

rhinogrey;82182 wrote:
These are things that cannot be told-to someone by way of attempting to convey abstract notions upon other abstract notions.



Yes, I agree. That is why an experiential component assists in understand. However, I will say that most teachers that I have come across who teach Eastern health practices such as Qigong, Taiji, or yoga, do not have a background in the philosophy. So there is a problem in getting instructors, I think.

Rich

---------- Post added 08-09-2009 at 10:28 PM ----------

Theages;82185 wrote:
Nietzsche said that truth is antithetical to life (hence also to health and relationships, etc). While this might be a bit extreme, it is certainly the case that truth is indifferent to health and relationships and all that. Philosophy is only relevant to people's live to the extent that truth is relevant to people's lives, which is to say surprisingly little.


An Eastern perspective is totally different. I think that philosophers might find it interesting to see a totally different perspective. Truth - not a major issue in many Eastern philosophies. Health, living, food, spiritual, mental, physical exercise, relationships, etc. - these are all ideas that are discussed. I think Truth is interesting, but for some it might be either boring or frustrating at some point to keep searching for something that no one can find. But good health! Now that is something that affects everyone's present.

Rich

---------- Post added 08-09-2009 at 10:33 PM ----------

jgweed;82186 wrote:
I think one must be careful, if one attempts to make philosophy relevant, simple, and accessible, to not at the same time turn it into something that prevents it from making its real contribution to the world---relentless, rigourous, and sustained questioning of the world and of itself.


Eastern philosophy prevents a totally different viewpoint which is why it might be interesting for those who are studying philosophy in universities. At some universities, it is placed under Religion. I think this is not appropriate.


jgweed;82186 wrote:
And to do this, it must be in the world and at the same time permit itself to distance itself from the ordinary world; its ways are often difficult and demanding of its followers, for its tools and methods of explanation are complex and require both intense study and often isolated contemplation.


I just can't get excited about intense study. Too many Western trained yoga and Taiji teachers insist on this also. I think it is a marketing gimmick to get students to study for 10 years instead of 10 weeks.

I think philosophy study should be fun, accessible, relevant, participatory, and among equals. Everyone learning about the universe that they live in. This is how I run my classes. I love it when people are laughing and smiling at simple thoughts about how to look at life.

Rich
0 Replies
 
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 09:52 pm
@richrf,
Certainly more classes on Eastern philosophy should be included, focusing perhaps on the societal impacts of different brands of philosophy as much as the philosophies themselves (this includes Western philosophy, by the way). Eastern philosophy is easily as deep, ancient, and well-thought-out as the one we're familiar with, but it should be offered more as a concentration, since of course we're raised in the Western tradition and therefore should be more familiar with it.

(The opposite would go at, say, the University of Beijing, for the same reasons given above.)
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 11:42 pm
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier;85073 wrote:
Certainly more classes on Eastern philosophy should be included, focusing perhaps on the societal impacts of different brands of philosophy as much as the philosophies themselves (this includes Western philosophy, by the way). Eastern philosophy is easily as deep, ancient, and well-thought-out as the one we're familiar with, but it should be offered more as a concentration, since of course we're raised in the Western tradition and therefore should be more familiar with it.

(The opposite would go at, say, the University of Beijing, for the same reasons given above.)



Eastern philosophy is easily as deep, ancient, and well-thought-out as the one we're familiar with

Support?
0 Replies
 
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Sat 22 Aug, 2009 11:50 pm
@richrf,
Eastern philosophy is important; however, at my old alma mater, Eastern Philosophy is the responsibility of the Centre of Asian Studies and they offer several courses in Indian and Chinese philosophy.

The Philosophy Department merely cross-lists them and includes them as acceptable electives though not required courses.
The Dude phil phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 04:53 pm
@richrf,
I don't know about the Philosophy curriculum needing to be revamped and updated as much as they need to be available in the first place. Hell, I would love to introductory Philosophy classes as a middle-school requirement here in America and see in-depth Philosophy classes as High School requirements. More people need to know how to analyze things.

This morning I walked into my AP Psychology class, which is the first class I have in the morning; Being one of the first people in there, I sit down and have my discussion with Carter, the teacher. He's an excellent human being in my eyes and I would consider him a father figure if I were a bit closer to him. Anyway, my discussion with him turned towards Philosophy, and I mentioned that I wish Philosophy was available as a class.

He tells me that it actually was shortly before I showed up, and that he used to teach it. He also tells me that it was by far his favorite class to teach and it allowed him the most flexibility and interaction with his students. I asked him why it was no longer available, and he said something along the lines of:

"Because no one wanted to learn it. I got flooded with thirty students per class, and most of them just wanted easy 'A's. They didn't want to learn for the sake of learning. They didn't want to engage in any deep thought. Some of them didn't even know what Philosophy was, but were more-than happy to take the class because they heard it was easy. So I stopped offering it. I could make no progress with these people."

I was overcome with this kind-of sadness hearing that from him, y'know? He couldn't teach his favorite subject because the hordes of goons he had coming in didn't want to cooperate. This sort-of goes hand-in-hand with the "Is Stupidity Really a Problem?" thread that's also in the forum.

But yeah. I'm all for more philosophy in school.
I don't like the public school system and I champion the idea of autodidacticism, especially now that we're in the internet age (which I also think makes socialism a lot more plausible. All we need is a smaller population which can be achieved by a few generations of relaxed breeding, but that's just my own vision of Utopia), but if the public school system were reformed and people were a bit more enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge, then I would love the public school system. :p
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 05:37 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;85083 wrote:
Eastern philosophy is important; however, at my old alma mater, Eastern Philosophy is the responsibility of the Centre of Asian Studies and they offer several courses in Indian and Chinese philosophy.

The Philosophy Department merely cross-lists them and includes them as acceptable electives though not required courses.


What is important about Eastern philosophy?
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 06:35 pm
@The Dude phil phil,
The_Dude;95896 wrote:
the forum.

But yeah. I'm all for more philosophy in school.
I don't like the public school system and I champion the idea of autodidacticism, especially now that we're in the internet age (which I also think makes socialism a lot more plausible. All we need is a smaller population which can be achieved by a few generations of relaxed breeding, but that's just my own vision of Utopia), but if the public school system were reformed and people were a bit more enthusiastic about acquiring knowledge, then I would love the public school system. :p


Hi,

Thanks for sharing with me your experiences and thoughts.

From my point of view, philosophy as well as many other courses that are taught in school, should be made more relevant.

I remember when I use to teach, teachers chose topics and subjects and texts that were easy for them to teach. The material itself may be ancient, but they kept teaching it so that they would not have to revamp their own curriculum adding to their own workload.

I think philosophy can be made relevant so that students can relate to it. But much of philosophy as it is presented in books and in class are merely thought experiments. They do not attempt to be relevant and practical.

Hope you find this forum interesting. I noticed that different people in different age groups view topics differently, so hopefully you will find a discussion that you can relate to.

Rich
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 06:42 pm
@richrf,
richrf;95917 wrote:
Hi,

Thanks for sharing with me your experiences and thoughts.

From my point of view, philosophy as well as many other courses that are taught in school, should be made more relevant.

I remember when I use to teach, teachers chose topics and subjects and texts that were easy for them to teach. The material itself may be ancient, but they kept teaching it so that they would not have to revamp their own curriculum adding to their own workload.

I think philosophy can be made relevant so that students can relate to it. But much of philosophy as it is presented in books and in class are merely thought experiments. They do not attempt to be relevant and practical.

Hope you find this forum interesting. I noticed that different people in different age groups view topics differently, so hopefully you will find a discussion that you can relate to.

Rich


I wonder whether if philosophy were made more relevant (to what?) it would remain relevant to philosophy. I mean, of course, the sort of thing Plato, or Descartes, or Bertrand Russell, or Daniel Dennet did, and do.
0 Replies
 
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Oct, 2009 03:24 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;95900 wrote:
What is important about Eastern philosophy?


Eastern philosophy is of great historical and cultural importance to the respective Eastern countries, just as Western philosophy is to the respective Western countries. Great works of literature like the Tao Te Ching, Buddhist Scriptures, and the I Ching pour from the words of those philosophers. I don't see why philosophy has to be so Western-centric all the time.
 

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