Sunday, May 4, 2008

More blogging from teachers that have given me B-plusses

Bryan van Norden posting on Eric Schwitzgebel's experimental philosophy blog. He was my teacher for Problems in Philosophy the spring semester of last year. His policy of hardly ever giving out As, which was awesome, was the reason that I wrote last year about how highly I thought of the future of philosophy.

In this post, his practical advice to grad students interested in pre-Qin dynasty Chinese philosophy has fairly little relevance to me, but his larger point that you must devote yourself to large amounts of reading in order to be useful to your field is noteworthy.

I particularly liked his point that, "if you don't know the secondary literature and I do, how productive will my conversation with you be?" If you don't know the basic facts and haven't read the influential commentaries on a subject, there's little chance that you are going to come up with an opinion that will advance the discussion with somebody that has read the relevant secondary literature.

He also has a list of the ten most important people of the 20th century, which is a fun thought experiment. If I were to make a list, I might have tried to find room for John von Neumann, Alan Turing, and/or Milton Friedman, but I probably have a bias towards scientists.