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« Notes from both sides of the market, part 3: teaching portfolio dilemmas | Main | Job-market mentoring: how are programs doing? »

07/19/2016

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Preston

Hey JG,
Thanks for the great post! But I think you accidentally put the Historical Survey twice over, which makes me think that your number 2 is supposed to be something else!

Michel X.

FWIW, I want to plug another approach (which I tend to favour) which is sort of hybridized, at least if we take your categories as our guideline. I don't have a name for it, so let's provisionally call it the histopical survey.

The idea is to focus your attention on a single topic and then explore it in depth, tracing the conversation on that topic through whatever period is of interest. In metaphysics, you could easily design such a course around colour, for example, or time travel. In epistemology, around skepticism. And so on.

To illustrate a bit more, suppose you want to do that with the philosophy of art and you decide to focus on definitions of 'art.' This would mean introducing some of the more historical work--e.g. Plato, Tolstoy, Kant--as background (even though they're not properly concerned with defining 'art,' their work has infected most of our folk beliefs about art and art-making), and then moving through the skeptical moves (from the Neo-Wittgensteinians, feminist theory, work on other cultures), definitions proposed in response to those moves (e.g. the institutional and intentional-historical theories), responses to those responses (e.g. Carroll's historical narrativism, Lopes's reduction to the arts), etc.

Incidentally, I have to confess that although it sounds good at face value, the problem of disjointedness so closely resembles the doctrine of medium specificity that I, for one, can't help but to be skeptical of it!

Jerry Green

Interesting stuff, Michael X. As Preston noted, I left out a category: it looks to me like the one that was missing is pretty close to the way you like to do things.

I had to look up the doctrine of medium specificity, but when it comes to preparing courses this doctrine looks pretty good to me. I'm curious to hear what you don't like about it, especially if you think the problem applies in both art and pedagogy.

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