I survived my second day in Philosophy 105 class yesterday. Given that I’m a weird teacher/student hybrid I thought it appropriate to introduce myself off the top, and I led with a story anchored in a scene from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where, after time travelling back to 1986, Bones is yelling at a 1986 doctor about his barbaric practice of medicine.
What I failed to factor in was that most of the students in the class were born after 1986, so had no idea what I was talking about. Relatively speaking it was as if, when I was in college in 1986, someone attempted to make a point by referencing Lilies of the Field from 1963.
So, note to self: ensure all future pop culture references are contemporary.
My other realization yesterday was that I remember absolutely nothing about science or history. I had no recall, except in the vaguest terms, of what quantum mechanics is, or heliocentric vs. geocentric, or what Einstein’s theory’s were revolutionary. Part of this is simply because of the passage of time. But, to be honest, I can’t ever remember a day when I could understand and explain concepts like this clearly. So perhaps I am just a dullard.
On the philosophy side, I’m finding the language of the discipline almost impenetrable. Here’s a snippet from one of the suggested readings for the course:
With this sketch of practical reasoning we can come to closer grips with what sorts of things admit of change. Let us begin with health and the claim that the physician has an account of health. It is health that is the cause of the steps in the practical reasoning because it explains what is to be done. In what way does health admit of change? One possibility is that what constitutes health is not invariable; thus the account of health would not be invariable. While it seems unlikely that health is variable in this sense, what obviously admits of change is whether health exists in this particular case or not. If health does not exist in this case, it is up to medicine to restore it.
I’m vacillating between thinking I’m stupid because I can’t parse sentences like that in a way that squeezes any meaning or relevance out of them, and thinking that philosophers are stupid because they can’t talk like regular everyday people. Surely these concepts are not so otherworldly as to necessitate phrases like “admit of change.” Or perhaps they are.
Tomorrow we attack 20th century technological revolutions.