Monthly Archives: November 2017

As we come to the end of The Road…

Here are a couple of documents to review for your final, which will be given in class 11/27-11/28.

Study Questions 


The End of the Road


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As I Lay Dying Final Celebrations

As mentioned in class, here are the best submissions or “additions” to Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Providing an opportunity for recognition of high quality work is an important tradition for me. These students have raised the bar. Huzzahs are in order. (posted in the order they would appear in the novel)


Dewey Dell

Dewey Dell



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On the origin of self-consciousness…

Philosophers and psychologists alike have thought about the nature and process of self-consciousness for many years. And it’s not only these two categories of people who think about this stuff. All humans, to some degree, are conscious of their ‘self’ and ask what it is? If the self is the window into being, then it is the starting point for the investigation of ‘what it means to be’, ‘what is the meaning of being?’.

We all must get some purchase on this difficult question if we are to live satisfyingly. Sartre has famously articulated the self as the radically free horizon of experiencing. Likewise, Kierkegaard said, “the self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relation relates itself to its own self.”

Easy for him to say, am I right? It seems that which is closest to us is also the most alien, the hardest to understand. But why am I writing about this? [Here’s your tie-in with the novel we are considering in class.]

Not only am I going to ask you to think of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road as an edge case for moral realism, I am also going to have you consider it as myth or origin story for humans.

Shh. Stop yelling. I heard you the first time. Yes, I see your point that this is most easily seen as eschatology. I’m impressed with your vocabulary, but sit down for a second. I’m not just quoting some mediocre 90’s rock band here (“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”) but bonus points if you knew the song without consulting the google.

I want us to consider whether or not McCarthy wants his readers to take the maturation of the boy as universally applicable. But in order to consider this in depth, I would like to introduce one of the most famous (among philosophers, so not really famous) self-consciousness origin stories in the Western intellectual tradition: Hegel’s “Lord-Bondsman Dialectic”. When you see the parallels you’ll tell me that this was needlessly complicated and difficult it will all become clear and worthwhile.

Here’s the excerpt from G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit

Here’s the wikipedia page for Herrschaft und Knechtschaft, which is known to posterity as the “Master-Slave Dialectic” in what I consider to be the world’s worst translational hatchet-job.

And finally, here’s a nice outline of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, which retells the Lord-Bondsman Dialectic (Hegel’s myth) and as well as the rest of the larger work.

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Daum it! 

So, it appears that Meghan Daum is currently only intermittently writing columns. That means she’s useless for our purposes. So, if you were assigned Meghan Daum, you get to choose from among the remaining nine columnists listed on the assignment page. Write your first column this weekend. I’ll find out whom you chose on Monday. Sorry for the inconvenience. I usually check on this. I blame being sick. Enjoy your extra hour.

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Mighty Columnist Pairings (and sub stuff)

Dear Young Scholars:

Been pretty sick, but working from home. Here are your Mighty Columnist Project Pairings: Columnist Pairings 2017-2018

Note: If you did not submit your preferences, I either assigned you the person who I think would be your ideal match or the person who would be most convenient for groupings. Contact me immediately if there are issues, but understand that I may try to talk you down (or straight up overrule you) based on constraints. As a rhetorical note, if you come bearing a solution which is not disruptive to groupings, you are more likely to persuade me. Appeals have a strict deadline of 3:00pm tomorrow 11/3/17.

Also, here’s the sub stuff just in case copies run low. Keep in mind, this is not busy work. We were going to read and discuss this story anyway in this unit. So, Q.E.D.

Note to p6: Y’all got this yesterday. Today, y’all should continue working on it.

Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall”

“Nightfall” Questions

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