On the Value of Philosophy

For my Introduction to Philosophy, which I’m completely revamping for my new gig at Occidental, I will be asking my students to write a short paper toward the end of the semester that answers the following question: what is philosophy and why is it important?

At some point, I’ll have to figure out how to grade such a paper – suggestions about rubrics for this kind of paper? – but the first thought was that I would make available a handful of other attempts to answer this question, and students would have half a semester to sift through them, find one that moves them the most, and then build their own response using at least one of the readings I posted.

As always, I want a group that represents a diversity of perspectives on the meaning and value of philosophy. Even better would be a group of conflicting responses to this question, since the goal is to provoke students into thinking about their own response (as opposed to summarizing someone else’s take). So, in addition to Russell’s “The Value of Philosophy,” I am also going to post selections of Ortega’s Meditations on Quixote, particularly the stuff on amor intellectualis.

I’m writing today, then, to ask if there are any other chapters, short essays, or selections that I should include. Here are a few others that I’m planning to include:

  • Leopoldo Zea’s “Philosophy as Commitment”
  • Mary Midgley’s “Philosophical Plumbing”
  • Kristie Dotson’s “How Is This Paper Philosophy?”, though this last one is kind of long for what I have in mind, so we’ll have to see about this one.

What else should be on this list? Can be from any time period or corner of Earth.

2 responses to “On the Value of Philosophy

  1. Mi hermano, this is great! I’m sure it is already a class magnífica. My replay is not exactly an answer to your question since my suggestion isn’t a paper, but a book. But, in case it is still helpful: I highly recommend Pablo Diego Bubbio’s book, “WHY PHILOSOPHY?” Bubbio is a professor (from Italian and mix decent) at Western Sydney University, Australia; using the Continental Philosophy filter.

    Bubbio’s book is an excellent collection of jargon-free essays that aims at answering the question of why philosophy matters, all along assuming the unavoidability of doing philosophy.

  2. I always teach Russel on the value of philosophy. It’s short and really smart. I also always teach Jiddu Krishnamurti’s ‘The Function of an Education,’ which is a pretty badass text.

    If you want to include more Latin American stuff, I still think Vasconcelos on education is pretty good (re: my last guest post, you would want to raise the sorts of concerns Goyo highlighted about his use of Dewey, whom V basically just uses as a punching bag/representative of the Anglo worldview). I am unaware of any translations. There some translations of Ariel, though. That would. be really fun to teach, though I am unaware if there are digital copies around (my assumption now that we are pandemicized it is best not to require book purchases)

    On Tue, Aug 18, 2020 at 9:50 AM 20th Century Mexican Philosophy wrote:

    > RESJR posted: ” For my Introduction to Philosophy, which I’m completely > revamping for my new gig at Occidental, I will be asking my students to > write a short paper toward the end of the semester that answers the > following question: what is philosophy and why is it impor” >

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