Philosophy revisited

I studied Philosophy, or attempted to study Philosophy at Glasgow University. The problem was I don’t think I was very good at it. You see, I tended to agree with everything the Philosophers thought. One would argue one way and I would be convinced and then another would argue the opposite and I would be swayed in the other direction.
It was with great trepidation that I undertook to teach it at A level. I can see why Plato thought that people should be older when they study Philosophy. I feel as though I understand it a lot more now, than I ever did and I am a lot more critical. It was with great interest that I took on teaching two texts that I had studied at University. The first Mill’s ‘On Liberty’, fired me up a great deal more than it ever had the first time. Yes, we should challenge the system. Down with tyranny of the majority and despotism of custom. Why oh why are we so conformist? However the students complained that Mill was hard to read.
‘He doesn’t use commas or full stops, Miss’ So now they know what it is like reading some of their essays. This year we are studying Plato’s ‘Republic’. I remember when I read it at university I thought it contained some great concepts and that the arguments were logical. A highly organised society, the theory that there were perfect examples of everything we encounter in every day life. Then I realised he was advocating eugencis and quickly back tracked in my opinion. I have to say that the students that I teach are not so easily convinced and I have had real problems defending Plato. One even came up with the problem of the Third Man all on her own. It has been fascinating that whilst I was preparing it over the summer, I couldn’t believe how poor some of the arguments Plato makes are. If a philosopher can be culturally and historically limited, he certainly is. On numerous occasions we have wished he could come and join us and tell us, with the scientific progress we have made, how he would change ‘The Republic.’
The good thing about teaching Philosophy is that you have to take on different stances, depending on the students that you have. The first year I taught, I had a number of believers in God, so I didn’t believe. One conversation ended with ‘May the Lord strike you down with a bolt of lightning, Miss.’ To which I retorted ‘He hasn’t, so he can’t exist.’ Last year I was surrounded by atheists so, I believed in God. It was with great amusement that I watched them decide to pray just before they went into their Philosophy exam.
‘You’ve been denying His existence all term. If I were Him I’d abandon you now.’
‘Stop anthropomorphising God’ retorted one of my more able students. I had a bet on he would do well.


~ by envisioningutopia on November 20, 2011.

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