I’ve been tinkering on the back end of Love of All Wisdom a little bit. I thought it might be worth alerting readers to two of those changes. First, there’s now a “related posts” option at the end of each post, automatically suggesting other posts that might be of interest. (I had a similar plugin installed years ago which wound up slowing down and crashing the site, but this one is part of the official WordPress Jetpack suite, so I’m hoping it works better.) Second, you should now be able to write comments by signing in with a Facebook, Twitter or WordPress.com acocount, which should hopefully make commenting easier. Enjoy!
Longtime readers may recall a review of this blog that expressed dismay at my white-on-black visual theme. My commenters generally agreed and I had intended to change it. (It looked great to me because I grew up with DOS, but I’d rather not limit the blog’s appeal to people who share my technological quirks.) In the intervening time I tried a number of times to find an alternate theme, but never quite found one I was happy with.
Today, my friend Craig Martin also mentioned he found the theme hard to read, and I offered the usual excuses of why I hadn’t changed it yet. I then realized with some embarrassment that it’s been five years since I originally said I’d change the theme.
So I decided it was time to do it. My apologies to those who have had trouble reading the old theme over the years through my delays, but I think an apology is less important than fixing the damn problem. The new theme of the blog is called Château. There are some things about it I’m still not happy with – but le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. Better to have it out there and leave the possibility of another change at a later date. The various features of the old theme should work, except for the old blogroll, which was getting way out of date anyway. Besides the white on black, the most obvious change should be something I’d always wanted as part of a new theme: the banner with a picture of very different philosophers, from very different times and places, all of whom I admire. (I’ll leave it to commenters to say who they are!)
If one follows current conversations about technological changes in higher education — which it is a major part of my job to do — one quickly encounters a great deal of praise given to “disruption” and “disruptive innovation”. Massive online open courses and various other online innovations, we’re told, will overthrow the tired old models of education and usher in a marvelous new world far better for students than the sclerotic old habits of the deadwood professorial class.
So far, none of these technological trends has yet made big changes in the way higher education is done. Over the course of my lifetime, there have been only two trends in higher education that were genuinely disruptive innovations in a literal sense – that is, innovations that have genuinely disrupted the lives of the people who make up higher education. The first of these is adjunctification; the second is tuition increase. Continue reading
I have recently begun the exciting opportunity to teach a course in Indian philosophy in Boston University’s philosophy department. Thinking about and designing the course, I had the great opportunity to work with the small but excellent staff of BU’s Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching. They asked me: what’s your objective for the course? More specifically, what will your students be able to do when the course is done? They recommended that I pay particular attention to the verbs identifying these student abilities.
Such a question is easier to answer in skill-oriented courses – courses in Java programming or academic writing. There, the point of the course is all about something that students will be able to do. In a humanistic course, objectives are different, and often not easily specified. It’s not just that humanistic learning may have as much to do with personal transformation as with any acquired ability. It’s that even the abilities acquired are themselves difficult to define. In particular: one of the first verbs to come out of my mouth in response was “understand”. And one of the staff soon said in response, “we’d like to encourage you to avoid the U-word.” Continue reading
It is with great pleasure that I announce the creation of the Indian Philosophy Blog, a new group blog exploring all aspects of Indian thought. We hope to be for Indian thought what the excellent Warp, Weft and Way has been for Chinese. I have done some of the technical work to help put this together but the content is that of the contributors. Please check it out! I will continue to do my blogging in cross-cultural philosophy here, but intend to cross-post any posts that are directly related to Indian thought.
Last time I explored how James Doull – from a Hegelian perspective – understood the world in the century or two after Hegel, up to the fall of fascism and Communism. This week I’m following up with his analysis of the world he lived at his death in 2001 – still the world we live in today.
In reading Doull’s discussion of post-1989 politics I keep thinking back to Benjamin Barber‘s splendidly evocative title, Jihad vs. McWorld – originally a 1992 Atlantic Monthly article, expanded into a bestselling 1996 book. Doull’s staid prose would never feature such popular terms as “Jihad” and “McWorld”, but it seems to me that his analysis nevertheless rests on roughly the same contrast: a particularist embrace of divisions based on language, culture and “religion”, which emerges stronger as a response to a universalistic globalized technological capitalism. Continue reading
My paid work at BU involves supporting many educational technologies, but especially ePortfolios: websites that showcase personal learning and make it visible. As a demonstration for others to see, I’ve created an extensive portfolio about myself, displaying my scholarly and professional history. If you’re interested in my background, feel free to have a look. You’ll probably be able to learn more about me than you ever wanted to know.
The term digital humanities has quickly become trendy over the past couple years. The term has often excited me, since digital technology in the humanities is both a part of what I do for a living, and what makes my humanistic scholarship on this blog possible. So I’ve followed discussions of digital humanities, such as the HUMANIST mailing list, with interest.
I remain deeply interested in the field, but I’ve also begun to acquire some skepticism toward it. Continue reading