Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How about some "Critically Anti-Pissed-O" salad (by anon)

I know here at Critically Pissed we like to talk a lot about things that we think suck about the world. I am not going to do that. I was rereading some older posts about professors and wanted to add my own opinion about an experience with a Prof here on campus.

I took an intro to philosophy class during spring 2008 term with prof Howard Ross. I was always curious about philosophy and wanted to learn about it.  The experience I had in the class was nothing short of amazing.  We covered a lot of topics and some of my favorites were Plato’s allegory of the cave, Scepticism, and a brief introduction on Existential thought. He also taught the class with style and brought fourth modern day examples to help make points.  We even discussed the Matrix in class and what is reality.  I remember one class where he asked us why people use drugs. One student remarked that they are curious.  Ross replied, “Curious? Are you curious about drinking bleach?”
There was work to be done in the class and sometimes some of the philosophers were hard to grasp, but our in class notes helped shape the experience. Ross also allowed students to have their own opinions on issues. He always said that he didn’t know when it came to opinion questions and that we should think critically and form educated opinions about the world.  I was so impressed with my time in that class that I became a philosophy minor and spend my large chunks of my own free time reading about philosophy. I am a fan of Nietzsche, Sartre, Socrates, and political philosopher John Stuart Mill.
In conclusion, I think why I made this post is in response to one poster who continually bashes students as beer drinking, lazy, dull, failures. I am just saying not all of us are like that.


  1. Just a thought -
    (btw LOVE the post because I had an experience VERY similar to yours)
    What if philosophy was more emphasized here as a Gen Ed requirement?
    It seems to me that philosophy is sooooooooooo underrated here at Whitewater (and I guess other colleges I've heard) and when students think of philosophy, they think of super boring books written by old dead guys that have nothing to do with life today. And they think of "World of Ideas" as it was taught by their crappy languages and literature prof, where hardly ANY philosophical analysis of course content was actually discussed/learned. World of Ideas in most cases cannot even be considered a real philosophy-based Gen Ed...
    SO, my question is, why isn't Intro to Philosophy a required Gen Ed course??? Is it just because we have such a small philosophy dept that there wouldn't be enough professors to do it?? Are there just too many CORE classes required already??
    I think taking philosophy (and actually understanding it) is vital when it comes to critical thinking skills and becoming aware of one's self (including one's set of beliefs, ideologies, thought processes, etc..) and one's surroundings in a critical way...
    The study itself seems like an essential layer that can be added on to any field of study - whether one studies science, psychology, law, medicine, business, art, sociology, history.... etc, etc...
    So why is philosophy not really emphasized, should it be, and what if it was?

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with your conclusion. There are numerous stereotypes surrounding college-aged students-many are very negative, supporting that we blow our parents' money, don't take our time seriously, and would rather coast through class doing the least amount of work possible, only committing themselves enough to get a degree with the intention of that degree equating to a pleasing job in the 'real world'.
    The sad fact of the matter is that, for a significant population of traditional aged college students, this is very true. Just as you are saying, this is not the case for all of us.
    Purposeful thought is a term I have formed that describes the attitude of a truly successful college student: one who takes what they are doing here to a serious degree, critically analyzes commonly held beliefs for his or her self, and feel like they're doing what they should be doing each and every day (if not now, then they are on their way TOWARD this).

    In a philosophy class I am currently enrolled in, my professor began one class asking, "do you even ENJOY your classes?" One student (naturally sitting in the back row) responded with an immediate NO. That baffled my mind. I even responded out loud, "then what the hell are you doing here?!" To respond NO to such a question is, to me, the polar OPPOSITE of purposeful thought. Get your act together, figure out what you WANT to be doing with your life; by no means does it have to be along the path society SAYS you should take. We are all unique and so are our experiences.

  3. 11:02
    The philosophers teach WOI so take it from them. You can bet it will be more philosophical.

  4. @ 11:45 - Agree totally, especially with your last paragraph. It seems like a lot of students are in college (and specifically at UWW) because it's just "what you do" to get a decent salary... but a lot of students don't get that going to college is about learning, and too many just try to get through it as quickly and effortlessly as possible so they can get a degree that they think will automatically equal a good salary. They are severely misguided, because today, they'll be lucky to get a shit job that pays shit that doesn't even require the degree they paid (or have yet to pay) thousands to obtain.

    @ 12:52 - what happens when over half of WOI classes are taught by language and literature professors, and the students enrolling have NO CLUE what the difference is between a philosophy professor teaching and someone else teaching? Students don't pay attention to that crap! They just know it's a class they have to take, so they pick the section that fits in their schedule the best, and they pay zero attention to who the professor is (well, they might check up on "" first) and what dept. the professor is in. How could most students, if they already have no understanding of philosophy, know to choose the professor who is in the philosophy dept? I myself have even spoken to students about their upcoming WOI class, and they are clueless!
    ALSO, there are cases where one's schedule only permits taking a section with the language and literature prof. Then what?
    Not everything is just as simple as you're trying to make it...
    From what I've experienced at UWW, I believe there is a serious deficiency at this university when it comes to the healthy promotion of philosophy (and by that I mean not the pushing of philosophy over other areas, but more so the overall providing of philosophy and accepting of students' interests in philosophy). I think philosophy is one of the MOST important kinds (if not THE most important kind) of "general education" for one to receive in life.
    And, if one never gets properly introduced to philosophy, how could one know whether or not philosophy was worthwhile studying?

  5. Philosophy is just like any other subject. If you force people to take it, some of them will hate it. I like that the only people in my philosophy class are there on their own accord or curiosity and not just to get a check in the box. I think it makes the class better. Also if it was forced it could turn into death by power point with the prof spoon feeding material because they have to cover X amount of points in Y amount of time. I think prof do this because most of the students in these classes dont care and that leaks onto to prof. But, the prof still needs to cover their bases no matter what. Philosophy is my favorite class so please leave it alone. I like it the way it is.

  6. 3:20
    If it's just like any other subject why isn't there a Gen Ed course for it? WOI doesn't count. And if it did count, how could it be philosophy-related when it's not even taught by philosophy professors most of the time?
    If it's just like any subject why was my first year adviser so adamant on having me NOT take philosophy as a minor, double minor, or double major? Why does one have to jump through so many hoops just to have a philosophy major here?

    I can't imagine many students really disliking intro considering there are really great philosophy professors here who would make the course good. I mean, have you ever thought the reason your philosophy class is good is not mostly because students are there "on their own accord" but rather because the professor is just that damn good?

    And why would it turn into "death by power-point"? I think the professors teaching it wouldn't do that, because they know that would turn students off more than anything.

    Why don't you seem to want other students to be exposed to the same things you were?
    Would you not agree that students in a lot of cases just don't know what they're missing?
    Do you think philosophy could possibly help students see the significance better in their other Gen Eds in some cases?

    All I'm saying is philosophy is just undervalued... and I guess I don't get why, because it really is a valuable subject, would you not agree?

  7. I believe that learning some philosophy from someone who knows how to teach it can greatly influence a person. It teaches great thinking skills that carry over into EVERY part of one's other courses and life.

    But people are scared of philosophy because they think it may be hard and/or it might challenge them in ways they don't want to be challenged.

    Regardless, I think some philosophy should be required of all students. This could be in the form of WOI, but as someone previously pointed out, it may be not possible to take it with a philosophy instructor. You know, there aren't many of them and schedules can be a bitch. I personally do think that Intro to Philosophy should be required, and that contrary to another previous commenter, I don't believe requiring it would tank the course.

    Realistic? No way, no how. Incredibly major changes would have to happen to make such a course required. The first major hurdle would be to increase the number of philosophy faculty members by a few (at least), and that would take nothing short of a miracle. If everyone has to take Intro, then enough sections need to be offered, meaning that the staffing needs to be there. Four philosophy instructors just doesn't cut it. Maybe eight or ten would, but Intro might be all they would teach. So you see the dilemma?

    Thus, we can talk on the philosophy of education level and maybe agree that everyone should take some philosophy, but the practicality of the issue usually stops it dead in its tracks. Now if we were at a Catholic institution, every student would be taking philosophy - and they would have a philosophy department 3x the size of Whitewater's.

  8. 5:54
    Yes, I agree philosophy is under rated. Yes, students have a lot to gain from it.
    Long argument short. 20 students in a class 1 doesn't care about the subject. It brings down the value of the class. 2 students a little more, 5 students, 10, 20. The more that don't care the more the value of the class goes down. Will this number make or break the class, mmmm probably not.
    My philosophy class is almost entirely good due to the prof who teach it. In summary it's not broken don't fix it.

  9. Willis, all you and others do is fucking complain and whine like little babies. Do you need a pacifier. So you do not have a large philosophy department and there are not enough philosophy classes. Oh I am so fucking sorry. Get a fucking grip. Have you ever heard of the library and picking up a got damn book on philosophy and reading on your own. Oh this is too fucking revolutionary. You want one of the ass hole resident philosophers like Ross to ram some deconstruction crap down your miserable throat. Well, its time to stand on your own two feet and shut the fuck up. First, establish your own research program. What books do you read? I am not talking about that Harry Potter bullshit. Read Plato and other philosophers on your own. There is no fucking excuse now for being stupid today. There are ebooks, clouds, Itunes Univ, free classes, every fucking things, even specialized books for you to read while you are taking a dump. So learn to do some "learning" on your own. By the way, Steve Jobs just died and he did not even graduate from one of these brain washing fucked up institutions. Click on his name and listen to his 2005 Commencement Address and stop all this damn crying and complaining. It is boring and unbecoming Willis.

  10. uh, asshole resident philosophers shoving deconstruction crap? you must be taken philosophy from the wrong professors.

  11. I don't get it. If it were any other subject getting the shaft there'd be problems. But no. Every other subject gets its moment, while philosophy gets nothing, and people like anon 3:45 just want to tell students "go look it up for yourself, because there isn't anyone who gives a shit but you." Damn. I guess that puts me in my place! I might as well take the position of others and conclude that philosophy is best when it's kept under wraps. Philosophy is just as good when one just reads some random stuff on the internet or picks up a book that they hardly understand because it was written in the 1600s.
    And hey 3:45, if there's no excuse for being stupid today, then what's your deal? Were you just born to rant and swear and pick apart others? Are your hemorrhoids bothering you today? Did it hurt getting out of bed? You have issues.

  12. Willis, philosophy has never been under wraps, its all around you, all you have to do is open up your eyes, stop crying and complaining so damn much.

    If you think that you cannot sit down and read Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Descartes on your own, then I am really sorry for you. Lets say the last rites over your ass and move on. Stop sucking on beer and pizza so much and pick up A New History of Western Philosophy by Kenny (2010), and start from the beginning. Over 1,000 pages later, you will know something about philosophy, then move on to read those you like. Fuck the ones you do not like.

    Yes, I do have hemorrhoids and the shit hurts too. My point is - you have to learn how to learn and to do this you do not need anyone but yourself. So take out the pacifier and go at it.

  13. 8:54
    Your advice won't do much good on my end, because I'm not even talking about myself here in the first place.
    Maybe you think that since you're super self-centered, and think you have everything on lock in your own fucked up head, that I'm self-centered as well, and am only concerned with myself, sitting here complaining that I'm not learning. Had you been paying attention to anything I've said here, you would know that I'm not the one I'm worried about. I'm worried about other students (gasp! people who aren't me!).
    I think philosophy does seem to be "under wraps" because it's never promoted. No one sees value in it, and rarely is anyone told that there is value in it (particularly on UWW's campus) so people choose not to see it at all, when in reality, it's affecting their lives more than they even realize - as you say, it is all around, but the individual needs to recognize that and it's not just as easy as opening up one's eyes.
    There probably are a lot of students who can't just pick up something to read like Hobbes, and actually understand it or analyze it well.
    Seriously... is this how you really think? What are professors for exactly, would you say then, if you believe that anyone can learn anything if they just sit down and read some shit on their own?

  14. You rate profs and universities too high. Steve Jobs dropped out of college after 6 months, so how did he learn? Bill Gates dropped out after 2 years. How did he learn. Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, never went to college, so how did they learn? I am not knocking profs or college, they have their place, but you really can teach yourself just about anything within reason especially now, given the proliferation of information. Now you or I will never be as smart as Einstein, Plato, or even Dante and Marx, but you can read them and understand them.

  15. My last comment about self learning is to introduce you to Khan Academy. There are one million people teaching themselves various subjects from math to the humanities and all for free. I sit on the same board with Dr. Khan, founder and director of Khan Academy and his mission is to provide free educational tools for the world. Check it out.

  16. I have sat back and read your posts. You are arrogant, vulgar, condescending, and mean spirited. I hope that I never have to take you as a professor. Some of what you say makes sense but you swear a lot and put us all down. Some of us are here to get an education. Why are you even here at Whitewater? You should get another job or retire. By the way, our names are not Willis.