Teaching Philosophy Like a Lover (Part I)

Since I am interested in becoming a philosophy professor, I thought it might be worth my time to reflect on the types of qualities that I would like to possess and on how those qualities relate to my overarching goal to be a Loving human being.

Philo-

A philosopher already is, by definition, a Lover. The object of her Love, however, is initially limited to wisdom. I have found that it is wise to Love more than Wisdom itself, and thus, a love of wisdom requires that I love other things: the Divine and Others. But what does this look like practically?

Being engaging. This is an essential obligation if I am serious about being a Lover-professor. It is a way of teaching that is performed out of love for Wisdom, the Divine, and Others. The one who practices engaging pedagogy loves wisdom in that she attempts to remove all barriers from the acquisition of wisdom. She loves wisdom too much for semantic difficulty or symbolic indifference to get in the way of sharing wisdom. “Look at how beautiful this is!,” the philosopher ought to say, and the philosopher ought to do justice to the beauty of the idea by presenting it in a way by which its beauty can be seen. Moreover, the philosopher (who recognizes that loves of wisdom entails love of Others) is interested in engaging her students because she cares for the students themselves and recognizes the positive impact the sharing of wisdom has on Others. In loving wisdom and its beauty and in loving Others, we are loving the Divine.

Clearly, engaging approaches to teaching entail accessibility to the content taught. This is an area that I need to do some serious work on. Out of selfishness and convenience, I cling to terminology and methodology that is an obstruction to the pursuit of sharing wisdom. Interestingly, I am quite content to drop this attachment in a formal teaching environment, but in my everyday conversations, there is still some pride that keeps me from being fully committed to accessibility.

The relationship between this ideal and the ideal we find in Jesus’ life can be shown by pointing to two verses. Here is the first verse:

19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

I mentioned this before (here and here), but it is worth repeating: In this verse, we see Jesus “entering into the symbolic world” of his disciples. I am guessing that Jesus has a motive similar to the one outlined above (viz., a love for wisdom, others, and the Divine) in presenting his proposition in an engaging and relevant way.

This is the second verse:

45Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’

This is just a reason to think that when we love Others, we are loving God, a thought that I used to connect the love of wisdom and love of others with the love of the Divine.

Interestingly, then, I can conclude that it is a part of my “duty” as a Lover of Love to not bore my future students out of their skulls, for the extrinsic and intrinsic value of both wisdom and Others is too much to be properly ignored by a pretentious professor paid to put philosophy (the love of wisdom) out of reach.

 

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