Philosophizing from the Outside
I started rereading part of my dissertation today. It’s been six years since I defended it and finished my Ph.D. Since then I haven’t done a lot of purely philosophical writing. I went right back to grad school to study education, and then I started learning-and-thinking about teaching by doing. I think philosophy gave me a very transferable set of skills that are useful as I try to absorb more information about the world and how it works, and I continue to teach adjunct courses in the field. So by no means would I say I’ve left philosophy behind. But I’m not really part of the conversation within the discipline. I have no idea what’s being published in the field. Frankly I don’t even know if defining and understanding democracy is a matter of much concern to professional philosophers these days. I wonder sometimes if I should try to stick my nose back into that conversation. Would I have anything to say? Am I too much of a jack of all trades at this point to be master of any one?
I think that right now I need to be in the classroom every day, working with a group of students and trying to create a caring atmosphere of inquiry. I hope I have built the skills to help me achieve that goal. But the way that we’re doing things as a society isn’t working. We need to change up the game. Can I help make that happen by being a part of an academic conversation? Or is this conversation, this ability to throw an idea out to the electronic wilds, the place where I can be the kind of thinker I want to be? Maybe I won’t get published in a journal, but maybe I’ll have a chance at a greater impact. Education blogs and my teacher-centric Twitter feeds might be the new academy.
I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I still don’t know. I need to take another step, somewhere. I need to be better. But the first part of that is that I need to figure out where.