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Listening to the past December 6, 2009

Posted by Andy in Idea History, philosophy, theology.
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I feel duty bound to share the information that some wonderful people have seen fit to record complete readings of two of the most elegantly written books in Western philosophy, namely Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Augustine’s Confessions.

These two books are examples of how well humans can think. I have at times attempted to emulate their style, and failed drastically. It takes more than a mere decision. They are also models that demonstrate the principle that style and content can not be separated.

Cheers Librivox!

Teaching teenagers: a learning experience November 26, 2009

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics.
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I’ve been spending a large part of the time since completing my PhD teaching teenagers about English and Religion. It’s been a learning experience.

In many ways, preparing to complete a PhD has been a lesson in concentration. I spent one entire year studying someone (Berkeley) who barely got a mention in the final thing. You have to focus in on topics and shut out other concerns.

So going from that to teaching eighteen and nineteen year olds about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Philosophy and Religious Studies per se in the course of one year, with three lessons per week is something of an experience. Instead of going narrow and deep, you have to go shallow and broad. A couple weeks back, for example, I ran through, in the course of about 50 minutes, the tensions between Mediterranean power blocs and Iranian steppe-based power blocs from 500 BCE to around 700 BCE as a way to go from Buddhism to Islam. I used google map and my time line.

Now I’m teaching Islam, and ploughing my way through the Qu’ran (which is also available for free as a spoken word book), which is frankly exhilerating. Also, given that I am somewhat bearded and foreign, it gets me loads of street cred. Some strangers enthusiastically engage me in conversation, others take steps to avoid me.

My point is, all of us have a series of books that are really basic, but way outside their central field of interest that they’ve never gotten around to reading. Not having read the Qu’ran is a particularly heinous academic sin, but surely most people have similar academic skeletons in the closet. So I would wish every PhD graduate a chance to teach in school for a year or two before they continue their trek towards tenure. I’ve been forced to it (although I do not know if I will even rejoin the trek…) and have already seen how wonderful it is.

Not least because you’ll have an excuse to read Critchley’s hilarious Book of Dead Philosophers.

The Newest Foucault book around February 16, 2009

Posted by Andy in Foucault, Idea History, philosophy, theology.
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OK, so the French Amazon has just sent me a couple wonders. Foucault’s last ever lectures are the most important ones. These are referred to by Agamben in his Time that Remains (p60) for their rundown of the various types of truth-telling, and by Bernauer in Michel Foucault and Theology, where he claims that Foucault is basically for mysticism and against asceticism. Having recently re-read Security, Territory, and Population, this seems wildly unlikely, so I’m really looking forward to getting to the end of these lectures where he’s meant to make that claim. I note in passing that Foucault seems to have been reading the sayings of the desert fathers in his final months. Crazy. Finally we now have something more than McGushin’s frankly self-indulgent comments to go by as regards the final lectures on parrhesia and asceticism.

The two other books are perhaps of secondary interest, and I’m not gonna read them quite so immediately as the above. They are Veyne’s two books on Foucault and Christianisation in the fourth century respectively. Definitely must-reads for anyone looking into Foucault’s relationship to Theology.

I may post some conclusions after reading these lectures, although I’m doing final changes to my PhD and teaching relation and epistemology (two different classes) at a sixth form college at the same time, so don’t hold your breath!

Thanks to Jeremy for updates on the lectures (although he seems blissfully unaware of the Veyne book). I get so lazy when other people are that vigilant! Sorry for the long silence. I have viva’d and started teaching practice since last time.

Screencast lectures November 28, 2008

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics, philosophy, theology.
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Ok, so here comes my first attempt at screencasting a lecture. I hope to record shortened versions of all my ethics lectures (but none of my NT stuff, which is a smaller class, so it’s more discussion based). This will all be in Norwegian, but it’s useful to take a look anyway, if you’re interested in student resources: it’s basically a combination of a powerpoint with a lecture. Let me know how you think it works, whether you are a student or a teacher!

Introduction to Ethics (13th November):

Mill and Biblical Ethics (19th November):

The ethics of proximity (20th November):

Mill and Biblical Ethics November 18, 2008

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics, philosophy, theology.
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Ok, here comes my powerpoint presentation for Wednesday the 19th November, both in powerpoint and in pdf formats. Of course, it’s all in Norwegian…

After the first lecture November 14, 2008

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics, philosophy.
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So the first lecture is now over and I was fairly happy with it. I used this document as my powerpoint (I’ve converted it to a pdf) and lectured from 0915-1200, with two 15 minute breaks. (more…)

More Pedagogy October 31, 2008

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics, philosophy.
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The past couple of days I’ve been reading up on Kant and sorting my life out a bit. I’ve discovered that both Mill’s Utilitarianism and Kant’s second Critique on Librivox, so that makes good preparation and teaching tools. (more…)

God, Vision, and Power May 19, 2008

Posted by Andy in Foucault, Idea History, liberation theology, philosophy, theology.
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Well, my article on George Berkeley’s Theological colonial thought is now publised in Studia Theologica. I’ve been working on it for far too long now and have begun to disagree with myself so it’s probably just as well it’s published now. This actually went in as an annual review thing once, but in a completely different form.

As one that has verged on Foucault fundamentalism, I’m proud how little the French guy gets a word in on this.

Anti-Reason April 10, 2008

Posted by Andy in Foucault, Idea History, philosophy, theology.
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When I went to a conference on the place of reason in Theology, I gave a paper called “The Places of Unreason in Theology“. Unreason harks of course back to Foucault.

What strikes me in much Philosophy is that its contribution to its field is so negative. Foucault starts off by writing about Unreason; Wittgenstein claims to finish off all Philosophy, and so on. Something similar can be seen in other fields: Joyce writes the anti-novel; Bataille writes an Atheology.

I think we can agree that these negations of reason end up simply as developments in reason. They give arguments, are refuted, argue, offer evidence. All reasonable activities. But they argue for a reformulation of reason.

Is that what the call is arguing against when it calls for a renewed valuing of reason? Is it saying we can’t do anti-reason? And if so, does that just mean we have to continue as before?

I’m trying to get at how strange a project it is to recommend reason…

The Grandeur of Reason: Conference April 8, 2008

Posted by Andy in Idea History, liberation theology, philosophy, theology.
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The Call for papers is now out for this conference which looks rather exciting:

1-4th September

I am assured that women are also welcome, but obviously shouldn’t expect to be attributed any significant role. It is still a little uncertain what these speakers will have to say in response to the pope’s (in-)famous Regensburg address, but if they do respond to it (as the papers are meant to), then it should be an extremely exciting conference.

The call for papers is interesting and thought provoking, and since I am currently considering contributing something to it, I hope to suggest some inroads to the topic over the next few weeks. Any comments, suggestions, or sneak peaks of what you might say should you give a paper on the call, would be welcome.

If nothing else, it should turn out to be a great social event for friends and associates of the Centre of Philosophy and Theology! And hey, the poster’s pretty.