Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why Kant I answer?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 By

"Mom?" Emerson asked one evening, just as I was drifting off to sleep. I jerked awake.


"Why ders bad guys in da world?"

I really have no idea. Why ARE there bad guys in the world? We can talk about psychopathology and antisocial disorders and just plain jerks, but I honestly do not see any benefits to being "a bad guy." I think about it for a second, but as my brain is in the process of shutting down, I've got bupkis.

"I don't know, honey. That's a question for the philosophers."

"The philosophers? ... Where are dey? Can we call dem?"

Well, no. We can't just call the philosophers. First, the philosophers I know of are dead. Second, most of the reading I have done about philosophy over the years has been co-opted by a single Monty Python song. Really, universities, if you could put all of your lessons to goofy lyrics, your students would remember them a lot better.

Anyway, I told her I would look into it. She's primarily interested in ethics, but she has also expressed interest in ontology - "What does it mean dat we're alibe on dis earf?" Side note: I originally typed that as "oncology." Totally different realm of study. Anyhoodle...

Y'ALL. Never tell Emerson you will do anything. She remembers it. She chronicles it. She demands daily updates. So I started googling things like "Greatest living philosophers" and "philosophy for children."

The first search term got me living theologians, which - while not unrelated - were not what I meant.

The second search term turned up a whole movement about which I had been previously unaware. Philosophy for Children ("P4C") seeks to teach children reason, logic and argumentation. This is something Emerson has already mastered because she regularly kicks my behind in casual conversation. I'm interested in learning more about this, but it still isn't what I was seeking. Again, bupkis.

I begin to consider calling an old philosophy professor - the one who called me stupid every day as some wacked-out experiment in motivation - then realize it would be tantamount to child abuse. My other philosophy professor died years ago. The closest I can get is a priest or minister, who may have the best of intentions, but who would also have a dog in this fight. Hee! I just remembered that "dog" is "god" backwards. Perhaps Freudian that I chose that particular phrase, but I'm going to let it stand. And, anyway, we're back to bupkis.

But... wait! I do not have bupkis. I have an eclectic mix of personal and professional contacts!

I was sharing the above story with my coworker, as moms do, when she lit up: "I have a son-in-law who is a professor of philosophy at Boston College."'

Shut. The. Front. Door.

"Are you freaking kidding me?"


We fired off an email to him right then and there.

Now, I'm not fooling myself. I sent an email to a Ph.D. professor at a major American research institution specifically requesting 10-15 minutes of time to speak with a FIRST GRADER about some questions she happened to ask me. This is probably not what he had in mind when he spent tens of thousands on private post-secondary study. So I can't say that I'm clicking through to Gmail every 15 minutes to see if he's responded.

Except I totally am.


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