Delight Springs

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

More core conviction

A student caught me off-guard when I walked into section 12 yesterday afternoon, asserting: "that word peripatetic is overused." It is? Really? Is this an intervention, I asked?

 I 'd thought precisely the opposite, which is why I've been using it so much; and why I'd planned the day's class session and built our course around it. It's not a familiar concept to most of our students, who'd almost always rather hop the bus or skateboard or anything mechanically locomotive, to make the short transit across our campus.

I tried to be accommodating, spending the balance of our period searching for pluggable synonyms. But "mobile philosophy" (for instance) just isn't as much fun to say. You can't get a good Calvin and Hobbes cartoon out of it to match "pair of pathetic peripatetics". I'm standing by my word, but after today should have less occasion to say it. We'll just be doing it.

Come to think of it, I've also been saying This I Believe a lot too. I'll look for substitutes. (Personal philosophy, core conviction... or maybe just TIB will do.) I've asked CoPhi students to find moreTIB essays that resonate with them, and briefly to say a bit more about why. I'll do the same for some of mine, which include
  • Albert Einstein, An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man... The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious—the knowledge of the existence of something unfathomable to us, the manifestation of the most profound reason coupled with the most brilliant beauty. I cannot imagine a god who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, or who has a will of the kind we experience in ourselves. I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with the awareness of—and glimpse into—the marvelous construction of the existing world together with the steadfast determination to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. This is the basis of cosmic religiosity, and it appears to me that the most important function of art and science is to awaken this feeling among the receptive and keep it alive...
  • Oscar Hammerstein II, Happy Talk
  • Victor Hanson, Natural Links in a Long Chain of Being
  • Penn Jillette, There is No God... I believe that there is no God. I’m beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can’t prove a negative, so there’s no work to do. You can’t prove that there isn’t an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word “elephant” includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy. But, this “This I Believe” thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life’s big picture, some rules to live by. So, I’m saying, “This I believe: I believe there is no God...”
  • Erroll Morris, There Is Such a Thing as Truth
  • Azar Nafisi, Mysterious Connections That Link Us Together... I believe in empathy. I believe in the kind of empathy that is created through imagination and through intimate, personal relationships. I am a writer and a teacher, so much of my time is spent interpreting stories and connecting to other individuals. It is the urge to know more about ourselves and others that creates empathy. Through imagination and our desire for rapport, we transcend our limitations, freshen our eyes, and are able to look at ourselves and the world through a new and alternative lens... 
  • Eboo Patel, We Are Each Other's Business
  • Jackie Robinson, Free Minds and Hearts at Work... I believe in the human race. I believe in the warm heart. I believe in man’s integrity. I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it—and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist.
    My fight was against the barriers that kept Negroes out of baseball. This was the area where I found imperfection, and where I was best able to fight. And I fought because I knew it was not doomed to be a losing fight. It couldn’t be a losing fight—not when it took place in a free society...
  • Wallace Stegner, Everything Potent is Dangerous
  • Arnold Toynbee, I Agree With a Pagan
  • John Updike, Testing the Limits of What I Know and Feel
That last phrase from Updike is particularly apt and timely. "Testing the limits" does happen in class occasionally, between students and teacher, but we all need to expand our horizons and become less limited. We're all here to learn.

5:30/6:20, 68/90

No comments:

Post a Comment