|The Gent's Lounge|
12 Oct 2001
|Copyright © 2001-2013 by owner.|| Modified
14 Mar 2013
Me and Miami
Some decades have elapsed since I first enrolled at M.U. Indeed, I suspect my freshman "year" (which I finally wrapped up in the spring of 2002) might well be among the longest on record at that institution. At that rate, I would obtain my B.A. at age 177. Of course, there were a few early detours which are unlikely to recur: four years in the military, an odd job or two, countless technical schools, and a career of thirty years with a major corporationwhile my wife and I raised a family along the way. Now that I'm retired, and my own "kid" is off on her own, there seems a grand opportunity for this young man to finish what he started back in the autumn of '62.
During my initial enrollment years ago, I declared a major in Physics, since that was my primary interest (not counting girls, cars, and food) at the time. At the age of 18, of course, I knew everything worth knowingexcept that I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to be. My future livelihood seemed to lie somewhere between "neurosurgeon" and "welder." This probably explains why I later became a communications technician, a position demanding some of the skills of each of the aforementioned, butalaspaying considerably less than either.
Now that I've had a little time to think things over, I find that although I still have an interest in science, it's not what I really want to do when I grow up. Sometime during the mid 1980s, I discovered a new interest when I first got my hands on a word processor. Previously, I'd thought that technology was my calling, and I was smack in the middle of a solid, if less than hugely fulfilling, technical career. Suddenly I encountered a magical device that caused ideas to pop out of my fingers and onto a screen.
I've been writing ever sincebut seldom about physics. Strange to tell, the topics that have captured my greatest interest are those I would have shunned earlier: politics, philosophy, and religion. Imagine my shock upon discovering, at the onset of middle age, that the motivating and guiding voice within me is not that of Albert Einstein, but of Bertrand Russell. Egad! I'm not even a "people person," and suddenly my head is full of ideasnot of vectors and stresses, but of humanity and ethics. What am I to do with myself? I've never studied such things. What are these ideas doing inside me, of all people?
I still haven't completely figured that out, but at least I have an idea what I can do about it. I have a little catching up to do; in fact, I might as well start over. It's never too late to become a lifetime learner.
My current program of study has no particular pattern or objective, other than general enlightenment. At best, it might transform me into a vague approximation of a Renaissance Manwhich is an admirable and valuable thing to be (in my view), but one in rather low demand in this age of specialization.
Collectively, the courses on my docket probably would not significantly enhance my résumé; they are spread over too broad a range of interests to bolster my marketability in any specific field. They are simply topics which I find interesting and challenging. My reason for learning is simply curiosity. I enrolled in a degree-seeking program only because the government is willing to pick up part of the bill for the earning of collegiate credentials—even in such a "non-profit" field as philosophy. Indeed, I cannot imagine how my particular course of study would be of interest to anyone, save perhaps a psychologist. But if you happen to be one of those, here it is, tastefully presented in anally-retentive tabular form. Pray enjoy!
Since I wrote the foregoing paragraph a decade or so ago, it has occurred to me during my final undergraduate years that the study of philosophy is not as frivolous as it at first seemed. Granted, there isn't much information of marketable value in the subject matter of some of philosophy's branches. However, some key subfields, such as logic, ethics, and epistemology, are of as much practical value in making sense of the natural and social sciences as semantics is in literature and aesthetics in the arts. And, perhaps most important of all, the probing, methodical study of abstract concepts, even in a branch as devoid of material significance as metaphysics, nurtures and develops critical evaluative and reasoning skills that can be applied to advantage in virtually any serious field of endeavor—as I myself can attest in applying such skills to the unusually broad curriculum I have undertaken.
O N S A B B A T I C A L
|Civilization of the Middle East||ATH207||3||Where the action is.|
|Problems of Metaphysics & Knowledge||PHL221||3|
|Ethical Theory||PHL311||4||Why should I? Why not?|
|Philosophy of Religion||PHL392||4||Death to infidels.|
|JUST FOR FUN|
|Intro. to French||FRE101||4||Folks to our north speak it.|
|Intro. to Italian||ITA101||4||Folks at La Scala sing it.|
|Intro. to Japanese||JPN101||4||A non-European language.|
|Intro. to Spanish||SPN101||4||Folks to our south speak it.|
Associate of Arts: Humanities
(complete, 8 May 2004)
Credit hours 95 (64 required), grade point average 3.272 (of 4.000 possible)
|ARTS & CULTURE|
|History of Western Art, Post-Renaissance||ART188*||3||2003.2||Dessert!|
|English Composition||ENG111*||3||2001.1||Both challenging and confirming.|
|English Literature||ENG112*||3||2002.1||Sophocles was English?|
|German||GER101*||4||2002.1||Eins, zwei, Polizei...|
|German||GER102*||4||2002.2||Drei, vier, Offizier...|
|German||GER201*||3||2004.1||Fünf, sechs, alte Hex'...|
|German||GER202*||3||2004.2||Sieben, acht, gute Nacht!|
|World History before 1500||HST297*||3||2001.2||I told my mummy I would.|
|World History after 1500||HST298*||3||2002.2||As a basis for art appreciation?|
|Intermediate Algebra||MTH102||4||2001.1||Oiling rusty mental mechanism.|
|Society and the Individual||PHL 103||3||2003.2||Dealing with DesCartes|
|Formal Logic||PHL273*||4||2004.2||I've always wanted to debate with penguins.|
|Dynamic Earth (w/lab)||GLG111*||4||2003.1||To ensure I'm on solid ground. Uh oh...|
|Astronomy & Space Physics||PHY111*||3||2003.3||Expiring minds want to know.|
|Principles of Biology||ZOO114*||4||2004.1||Get a life...then dissect it to see how it works.|
|Intro. to Psychology||PSY111*||4||2003.1||Brain and I are properly introduced.|
Bachelor of Arts: Philosophy
(complete, 15 Dec 2012)
Credit hours 168 (128 required), grade point average 3.504 (of 4.000 possible)
|ARTS & CULTURE|
|History of Western Art, Pre-Renaissance||ART187||3||2005.2||Mesolithic to Medieval.|
|Religion, Society, & Culture||REL103||3||2005.2||What it's really about.|
|Technical Writing||ENG215||3||2006.3||Just the facts, ham.|
|History of the English Language||ENG301||4||2007.2||Celts, Saxons, Normans|
|Structure of Modern English||ENG302||4||2008.1||To express ourselves well we ought|
|Backgrounds of Composition Theory & Research||ENG304||3||2007.1||Thematic sequence: English|
|Calculus I (single variable)||MTH151||5||2005.1||For the masochist in me.|
|Problems of Moral & Social Values||PHL131||3||2006.2||Hoping for more value than problems.|
|Informal Logic||PHL263||4||2005.2||Dissecting men of straw.|
|Symbolic Logic||PHL274||4||2008.2||Abstruse beyond use?|
|Modern Philosophy||PHL302||4||2007.2||Italian, German, French, English...|
|Contemporary Moral Problems||PHL312||4||2009.1||Empiricism as reality check.|
|Symbolic Logic||PHL373||4||2008.2||Venn vill this be over?|
|Truth & Objectivity||PHL410T||4||2011.1||You wouldn't believe.|
|What Is Philosophy? (Capstone)||PHL404||4||2011.2||One thing's for sure: It doesn't stay the same.|
|Kant||PHL440K||4||2008.2||I Kant ... but I do the best I can.|
|Cultures in Context||ATH155||4||2006.1||Or should that be "in Contest"?|
|Social Psychology||PSY221||3||2005.3||Making it as an individual in a group.|
|Personal Enlightenment and Fulfillment (ongoing)|
|ARTS & CULTURE|
|Intro. to Classical Mythology||CLS121||3||2005.1||Give me that old-time religion.|
|Great Ideas in Western Music||MUS189||3||2012.2||That's "West" of the Urals, buckaroo|
|American Religious Encounters||REL101||4||2012.2||All you wanted to know, then double it.|
|Survey of American History I||HST111||3||2011.1||Getting to the Civil War|
|Survey of American History II||HST112||3||2011.1||Getting over the Civil War|
|History of Western Civilization I||HST121||3*||2006.1||Purely Occidental I|
|History of Western Civilization II||HST122||3*||2006.2||Purely Occidental II|
|World History since 1945||HST296||3||2004.2||The story of my life.|
|Elementary Statistics||STA261||4||2010.2||Ordering of Magnitudes|
|Intro. to Programming||CSA163||3||2002.1||VB: New platform, new strategy.|
|Introduction to Chemistry||CHM109||1||2012.1||Just the basics.|
|Physics and Society||PHY101||3||2012.2||Stuff has changed in the last 40 years.|
|Human Physiology||ZOO161||4||2012.1||Same old body, new understanding.|
|Microeconomics||ECO201||4||2009.1||The lust for money...|
Here I offer a sampling of my academic writings. Like my studies, they cover a rather broad range of interests, and reasons for posting them here vary. In most cases, it is because I feel a work makes a point that might be of interest to a broader audience, and such papers may be revised to suit that audience. In others, it is because a professor has urged me to publish a paper as an example for other students to emulate; these are typically left in their original form, except to modify them to web-page format. Sometimes I include additional notes, and sometimes I include a copy or paraphrase of the instructor's assignment, so the reader may judge whether the objective was achieved.
Material from these papers may be cited with proper accreditation. For advice and guidelines on how to do so, click here, or click the copyright notice at the top of the document page.
A WORD TO THE WITLESS (since the wise already know better): Remember that simply copying material and misrepresenting it as your own work is plagiarism. This is not only unethical and illegal, but also ridiculously easy to trace on the Internet. Thus it is ridiculously stupid even to contemplate.
At this stage of life, my motives for study are quite different from what they were when I was still in my teens. In those days, it was pretty much the same as everyone else, I suppose: Do the minimum to get an acceptable grade, so you can get a degree, so you can get a nice job, so you can get lots of money, so you can enjoy your fair share of headaches and ulcers. Somehow, I didn't find that sufficiently motivating. Besides, back then it was still possible to land a respectable careerone that would permit a comfortable (if less than lavish) lifestylewith just a high school education.
Nowadays, what prompts me to study is not ambition, but rather an abundance of curiosity that has accumulated over the course of living. Although I am relatively unschooled in a formal sense, I am neither inexperienced nor unlearned, for I have traveled a bit and read a fair amount on my own in a variety of fields. However, my hit-and-miss self-education has produced an intellectual fabric containing an annoying number of holes and imperfections. My aim is to fill in those gaps and mend those flaws, as well as to expand into new dimensions, so that the whole acquires both broader perspective and deeper coherence. I am not chasing a career, a degree, or even a grade. I learn because I earnestly want to; I yearn to discover, hunger to assimilate, crave to comprehend. My objective is no longer a diploma, but understanding. Now, as I gleefully pursue this personal goal, there is the pleasant consequence that I consistently exceed even the highest expectations of the university. This is something that I neither sought nor expected, so (except that it seems to induce scholarship groups to want to pay me for having fun) I cannot seem to take it very seriously. It is just an amusing side-effect, some of whose manifestations are listed below.
Still, I do not mean to belittle such recognition. For many people, it provides motivation and reward for superior ability and effort, and this is especially important in a world that has come to despise individuality, to value mediocrity, and to reward conformity. To me, such recognition by schools, businesses, organizations, and individuals comes as a warming reassurance, that there are still some in our society who care seriously about intellectual development and achievement, and who recognize and appreciate its value to humanity. While I do not consider myself to be actively competing for such recognition, I must admit it's cheering to get an "attaboy" now and then, especially when it's unexpected.
Okay, does anyone know of a reputable institution that's looking to hire an eccentrically rounded philosopher?
What do you mean, "Do you have your own clown suit?"
But, to be serious about this (for once), let's consider this: Philosophy is widely considered the most difficult academic program in which to attain a degree. Anyone who successfully does so at an accredited school has demonstrated himself or herself capable of logical reasoning in depth about complex issues both abstract and concrete, and of comprehending and arguing concepts that most people simply find too difficult to wrap their minds around.
Now, this is not to toot my own horn, since as a happy retiree I anticipate little gain from it, aside from a deepening of my own perspective and the personal satisfaction of accomplishing something challenging. Rather, it's a tip to the insightful employer, who could hardly go wrong by augmenting his or her work force of specialists with a philosophical mind or two. Granted, much of the subject matter of philosophy itself might seem pointless from a practical standpoint; yet focusing on that alone misses the real point. In successfully grappling with such material, philosophy majors clearly demonstrate the ability to assimilate, analyze, integrate, and communicate complex ideas—an ability much sought after by astute business managers. Coupled with both liberal education and expertise in other specific areas, such a talent constitutes a significant asset in any field in which clear comprehension, in-depth conceptualization, and disciplined reasoning would serve the advancement of the business, as an integral and interactive component of the economic environment, the social sphere, and the natural world.