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Sunday, 28 June 2020 - 1:43pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 28/06/2020 - 1:43pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 21 June 2020 - 4:49pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 21/06/2020 - 4:49pm in

This fortnight, I have been mostly reading:

Do The Work

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 10:03pm in


race, reading

As protests continue to roll around the globe in response to the unjust murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many other People of Color, many of us are trying to identify meaningful ways to enact real change. These events demonstrate the ongoing patterns of systemic and institutionalized racism that impact African Americans and other people of color across every aspect of society. These raise significant questions about equity, access, and justice from housing, to employment, to health care, and education. To address these challenges, we are creating a learning community to support individuals as they become allies, and then eventually advocates for anti-racist work.

As we individually and collectively examine these questions, we must first examine our own perspectives, privileges, and identity. We are watching Americans wake up to the centuries of injustice and dehumanization of others that do not share the same experiences. To ensure that we don’t fall back to sleep in a state of complacency, we need to prepare for when the protests, social media buzz, and hashtags fade. In short, we need to do the work.

We are a small group of volunteers who met as members of the Higher Ed Learning Collective. We were inspired by the initial demand, and the idea of self-study, interracial groups. The initial decision to form this initiative is based on the myriad calls from people of color for white-bodied people to do internal work. To do the work, we are developing a space for all individuals to read, share, discuss, and interrogate perspectives on race, racism, anti-racism, identity in an educational setting. To ensure that the fight continues for justice, we need to participate in our own ongoing reflection of self and biases. We need to examine ourselves, ask questions, and learn to examine our own perspectives. We need to get uncomfortable in asking ourselves tough questions, with an understanding that this is a lifelong, ongoing process of learning.

The purpose of these reading and discussion groups are to strive to understand the history of pervasive structural and systemic racism in America, and how this impacts the present, the future, and ourselves. We intend to create safe, brave spaces to facilitate discussions as we co-investigate anti-racist texts and their role in our individual and collective contexts. You can participate with the groups even if you don’t want to collaborate and co-investigate. We’d like to leave the door open for those that just need the extra push to read these books and question themselves.

Please understand that we are not identifying or positioning ourselves as the experts. To the contrary, we are individuals, just like those reading this, that want to question and reflect on ourselves, seeking to do the work to promote real change. We encourage you to join as co-facilitators, participants, or just to listen. The facilitators are volunteers that are part of the whole, not in charge of the whole. You need to decide your approach point as you interact with these texts, as guided by the purpose of this group. 

All are welcome to join and begin, or continue, their own racial identity journey. Each book study group will be at a different place on the continuum, with different books focusing on different topics. We hope to include options that allow anyone to participate based on where they are at in this process. At least one book will focus on White privilege, while others will focus more on bias, perspective, and social justice. We are hoping to provide space for anyone interested in doing this work.

Choose your level

In order to facilitate growth for individuals as they become allies, and then eventually advocates for anti-racist work we will create three reading groups as guided by this model from Anna Stamborski, Nikki Zimmermann, and Bailie Gregory. The reading groups will operate contemporaneously and autonomously for 8 weeks. We will begin on June 15th, 2020, and conclude the groups on August 15, 2020. Each group will hold their own meetings, and decide on the goals and objectives of the learning collective.

Please review the following three groups and review some of the materials included to decide where you might fit best. You’re welcome to join at a lower ‘level’ than you may feel you’re currently at. We believe there is value to building a solid foundation, regardless of prior reading, knowledge, or experience.

Level One – Starting the Work

These are the types of texts you might consume at this level: 

Level Two: Owning the Work

These are the types of texts you might consume at this level: 

Level Three: Moving from Ally to Advocate

These are the types of texts you might consume at this level: 

Join us

You can then use the form below to indicate the group you’d like to join. Group facilitators will reach out to organize the individual groups and identify the next steps. Please Note, we have stopped accepting new members for the Summer 2020 group. 

We will keep your information private and only share with the group facilitators. You will have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your learning community in the next stage.

Brought to you by an initial group of facilitators

Alexia Buono

Danielle Dennis

Cheryl Hendry

Lynda Keller

Judson Laughter

Will McCorkle

Joaquin A. B. Munoz

Liz Norell

Ian O’Byrne

Rachelle Savitz

Katarina N. Silvestri

Sunday, 7 June 2020 - 2:23pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 2:23pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 31 May 2020 - 2:21pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 31/05/2020 - 2:21pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Mindfulness On The New York City Subway

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 10:31pm in

Shortly after I began attending my first and only meditation training class, my teacher began a session by claiming meditation could be done anywhere; the ‘meditator’ should not worry about finding the best or the correct place to do ‘sits.’ Sit anywhere; find a support for your back so you can sit upright; but if you can’t you can meditate lying down. I found this catholic attitude to the position and location of the meditation sit refreshingly non-stifling. I found the last of my many excuses to not meditate melting away: no longer could I complain about the discomforts of meditation sits. So I began meditating. I would meditate at home in my living-room, sometimes in my daughter’s room when our household was busy, in an academic library, at a friend’s home. All I needed was a chair and a quiet spot.

And it didn’t have to be too quiet either.  All I had to do was sit comfortably, close my eyes, and meditate. If noise was present, then I had to be mindful of that too: acknowledge the noise, notice its presence, but don’t dwell on it; do pay attention to what happens if you find yourself trying to ‘process’ the noise. The key was to acknowledge that meditation was about mindfulness, not about escape from the every-day, or beguilement. Meditation asked me to be present in the present, not absent in the present. In a mindful way.

With all that said, one logical venue for meditation became apparent: the New York City subway. I often read in subway cars; indeed, they were one of my primary reading venues in my daily life in the city. But I never thought of them as a place of tranquility even though, quite clearly, they were for an experienced New York City commuter like me. All I had to do was find a seat, open a book, and very often I would be ‘lost’; a reading reverie had caused me to miss my intended station of disembarkation on more than one occasion. So why not meditate?

An opportunity presented itself soon enough: one day, while working in the library, I missed my afternoon meditation session by the stacks. Now, time was running out; I still had to catch the subway back to Brooklyn to pick up my daughter from after-school care. I would have to meditate on the subway if I wanted to get my session in before nighttime parenting duties began. And so it came to be that I took the Q train downtown, scouted for a seat, found one, plopped myself down, secured my backpack between my legs, pushed myself back, and closed my eyes. 

I sat for twenty minutes, while the subway took me from downtown Manhattan to downtown Brooklyn, through Chinatown, over the Manhattan Bridge. All around me I could hear sounds, feel sensation, smell aromas: the train scraping and screeching on the tracks, station and delay announcements, phone notifications, the occasional murmured conversation, french fries being eaten, my body moved and swayed, my head drooped, bodies around me moved and shifted as fellow passengers arranged themselves in various configurations for standing and sitting. 

I was in a subway car; I was present, not absent; I was mindful. I’m a human being; sight is my overpowering sensory modality. With the eyes closed, a different world pops into view. That day, while supposedly ‘checking out,’ I was more aware and sensitive to a certain dimension of the interior of a subway car than I had ever been with my eyes closed. I hadn’t gone anywhere; but I was still in a different place. On the subway, that was true literally, and figuratively. 


Sunday, 24 May 2020 - 1:39pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 24/05/2020 - 1:39pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Uncovering A New Approach to Teaching Philosophy Texts (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/05/2020 - 8:34pm in

“Texts can be challenging in multiple ways, some more useful than others…”

The following is a guest post* by Emma Kresch and Sophie Gitlin, who are both sophomores at Claremont McKenna College. They are working as research assistants for Dustin Locke, associate professor of philosophy at the school, on a new approach to introducing students to philosophical works that Dr. Locke is calling “Philosophy Uncovered.”

Uncovering A New Approach to Teaching Philosophy Texts
by Emma Kresch and Sophie Gitlin

We entered college having no prior knowledge of philosophy, but we thank Claremont McKenna’s general education requirements for leading us into our first introductory classes. In our philosophy classes we found wonder in the new ways to analyze the world around us, converse with others, defend arguments, and challenge old and new ways of thinking; we were hooked! However, there were days when we came to class too confused by the previous night’s reading to offer any insight to class discussion. Some of this confusion was due to the challenging nature of the arguments presented in our reading, but much of it was due to the fact that the essays were written in a way that we simply did not understand. This makes sense, as many of the essays weren’t written for us—they were written to be published in professional journals and read by professional philosophers. This is the problem that Philosophy Uncovered addresses, and we are excited be working with Professor Dustin Locke as research assistants on this new project.

Philosophy Uncovered will be a series of classic philosophical essays rewritten in a way that makes them more accessible to introductory philosophy students. The rewrites are not intended to summarize or analyze the original essays; they present the same argument, just in a more accessible form. The rewrites also differ from textbook explanations in that they present the arguments, so to speak, “in the first person”—that is, as if they were written by the original authors. When students read textbook explanations, they must deal with the extra cognitive layer created by the voice of the textbook author. Our rewrites allow students to engage more directly with the arguments of the original essays.

This project is still in its formative stages. However, we have preliminary drafts of rewrites for three essays: David Lewis’ ‘The Paradoxes of Time Travel’ (1976), Judith Jarvis Thomson’s ‘Killing, Letting Die, and The Trolley Problem’ (1976), and Michael Smith’s ‘What is the Moral Problem?’ (1994). We are happy to have instructors share these drafts with their own classes, and we would appreciate any feedback they may have to offer. Please send questions, comments, and concerns to Professor Locke at

As Professor Locke’s research assistants, our role in Philosophy Uncovered is to provide a student’s perspective, shining light on what is confusing and what needs to be better explained in the rewrite. Before Professor Locke begins each rewrite, all three of us create our own outlines of the original paper and put them together to identify differences in our understanding. Our outlines indicate which parts of the argument were clear and which parts we missed or misunderstood. Professor Locke then drafts a rewrite based on our discussions. After receiving feedback from us, Professor Locke redrafts the rewrite and the process repeats until we are all satisfied with the paper. Professor Locke also revises the papers in light of classroom feedback.

Our project may invite some debate. Some might argue that part of the value of philosophy comes from the struggle to understand challenging texts. But texts can be challenging in multiple ways, some more useful than others. When a text deals with a complicated subject matter, or when it is written from a cultural perspective different from a student’s own, students often benefit from facing these challenges. But when a text is written for a professional audience—that is, an audience with a certain specialized body of knowledge—we believe the interpretative challenge faced by introductory students often does more harm than good.

Over the coming months we will begin to explore our options for publication. Interested parties may send inquiries to Professor Locke at

(We are grateful to The Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at Claremont McKenna College, directed by Professor Amy Kind, for a grant to begin pursuing this project. The Gould Center is a wonderful resource for students and faculty at Claremont McKenna to study, research, and explore projects in the humanities.)

Art: René Magritte, “The Blank Signature”


The post Uncovering A New Approach to Teaching Philosophy Texts (guest post) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Sunday, 17 May 2020 - 5:48pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 17/05/2020 - 5:48pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

Sunday, 10 May 2020 - 11:11am

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 10/05/2020 - 11:11am in

This fortnight, I have been mostly working like a navvy, but also reading: