I hate that Gmail and WordPress indicate “dialogue” as a misspelling.
Publishers selling textbooks for Introduction to Philosophy courses often claim that their books are “ideal.” The price is never ideal, however. What I’m wondering now is whether anyone has hit upon a truly ideal syllabus for this course. In my mind, an ideal syllabus would be one that uses primary source readings and whose evaluative component contains nothing superfluous, boring, tedious, or artificial. I’m less concerned about the evaluative exercises than I am with hitting upon a set of texts that work well. My guess is the the Meditations of Descartes and at least two dialogues from Plato will make the list. Of course, success will depend on the manner in which the texts are presented, but I’d rather know the texts which present themselves well.
A common complaint that I get from students is that older texts, like Kant for instance, are too dense. No surprise. Sometimes I’m asked, “Why don’t you just have us read the same arguments in a contemporary form, since there are scholars still working on the arguments today?” I always answer by telling them that I do not think they (i.e. the students) are stupid, that I believe they can comprehend the texts in question provided they take the time to do so. Sometimes I think that Hume is accessible, but the strange thing is that his language is not as easily navigated as, say, Anselm, whose logic is probably the obstacle to comprehension. Often this is a translation issue, the irony being that Hume is writing in English. Precisely because he’s not helpfully rendered in a readable English from Latin, Greek, etc., students have to contend with his foreign English. Berkeley, on the other hand, writes with fewer qualifications and circumlocutions, which is why I’m thinking of putting him on the reading list this fall.
These are just thoughts and I’m hoping some of you will offer up your ideal reading lists, if you’ve got them.
The more I read Mumford’s Dispositions, the more I see affinities with Deleuze’s own philosophy of the actual/virtual. I can’t yet summarize this affinity, but I thought I’d put the idea out there in case anyone knows of any work done on this. It’s a long shot, perhaps not that long.
This is something I’m doing here and there, including two classics: Ayer’s Language, Truth, and Logic and Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia. Two more recent works that I am absolutely loving are Mark Rowland’s Externalism and Stephen Mumford’s Dispositions. It’s exciting to peek into these debates which have been relatively foreign to my own training, and yet so close to my immediate philosophical concerns.