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Ed Hackett

Eric, you should really write something like this for the journal Teaching Philosophy.

Eric Schliesser

Ed, I am afraid that I am unfamiliar with relevant literature that I would have to research from scratch. So I could only do it by co-authoring with an expert in the field. Any suggestions?

Lewis Powell

One role that I think is especially important in teaching history of philosophy courses is to help students hone an important (and under-appreciated) philosophical skill: sympathetic interpretation.

While sympathetic interpretation is important whenever one is engaging with another philospher's work, that skill gets a uniquely central place in history courses, and greater explicit treatment as a skill in its own right.

I think this is closest to your item (iii), but I am not sure they are exactly the same thing.

Eric Schliesser

Yes, Lewis, I think that is an important skill that can be taught in history courses. A related skill is that one learns to become self-aware of one's often tacit assumptions and commitments as one struggles to understand another in order to generate sympathetic interpretation. (In the post I was not really focused on what skills can be taught by way of history, but I agree it's an important oversight.)

Alan Nelson

I think that Davidson is as systematic as Lewis, but not (as you aptly put it) modularized so well.


My impression is that while there will certainly be articles on the role of history in teaching philosophy, the journal articles are fantastic places for reflections such as these, and you would be well placed to share them in a more developed form.

And I am not too sure that we should consider experts in the field of "teaching philosopbhy" since we all teach, and this might mean you needn't go out and try to find an expert co-author. Like Williams addressing the arguments that there could be something called moral experts, I don't think one could ever claim to be an expert in teaching philosophy. If anything, one is more seasoned, and a lot of implicit details about one's situation goes into the claim of being an expert. General expertise foregoes the real possibility that there is a lot of nativist criterion that might make one a spectacular teacher at one institution, but effective less generally at other places.

Teaching is the one part of the profession that is most similar to all other aspects, and that if we are good teachers of philosophy, we never stop talking about teaching (both formally and informally). Teaching Philosophy is the only journal that gives voice to these types of reflections. Its a journal we all should be reading, IMHO.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.


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