Now that’s a meaningful course evaluation!

The following is from Jessica Gordon-Roth, Assistant Professor at CUNY-Lehman. The emphasis was added by me, because it is splendid:

I asked my ‘Modern’ students how studying women philosophers shaped their understanding of the early modern period. To my surprise many took the opportunity to express how studying these women affected their understanding of philosophy more generally.

“Reading female philosophers helped me not only understand and appreciate the role of women in philosophy…it also expanded and challenged my understanding of many philosophers. For example Catharine Trotter Cockburn’s defense of Locke expanded on some vague points Locke made (which could be what Locke meant to say). So it opened my eyes to the possible implications of Locke’s arguments. Princess Elisabeth presented faults and questions about Descartes’ work which I would have never thought of myself and so it helped and inspired me to dig into Descartes’ arguments and all subsequent arguments in the class…which gave me a deeper understanding of the early modern period as a whole.”

“Reading female philosophers from the early modern period has shown me that there actually were female philosophers around that time and they just aren’t discussed as much…”

“Reading the works of…women philosophers…really changed my impression of…philosophy as a whole. All I had ever read prior to this course were male philosophers and it made the impression on me that those were the only people thinking philosophically at that time. Now I feel I have a fuller understanding of philosophy. I enjoyed seeing that women philosophers were just as intelligent and cunning as the men were. For example, Descartes, the philosopher most people know, had no valid response for Elisabeth’s objections to his arguments….”

“I feel I have learned many things from this course. First of all, I learned that it has not only been men asking the difficult questions throughout history, but many women have as well. Women have just not been given the spotlight…men have….”

“Prior to this class Martha Nussbaum and Judith Butler were among the few I knew…”

“In general, reading female philosophers in this class provided me with a well-rounded understanding of the sort of writing and thinking that emerged from the modern period. It was encouraging to know that not only did the philosophy written by the famous men of the period reach women, but women actually engaged in it and affected those very men….Being able to understand how the social, political and religious environment affect the content of philosophy from a particular period, and to see how often philosophers respond to, refute, or praise the questions and arguments raised by others, showed me how philosophy is more of a network of conversation, rather than a collection of independent unrelated works…”

“There was a lot I did not know about female philosophers…especially not how they interacted with famous male philosophers. It also made me question why it took so long for me to learn about them as a philosophy major and senior. Why aren’t these other great philosophers taught in lower level courses?…”

“Too many wheelchairs”

That was the judgment of the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) supervisor last evening at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.  “They can go through the lines like everybody else.”  So they closed the booth dedicated to processing people in wheelchairs, though later opened it up to the general public, approximately 99.5% of whom were not in wheel chairs.

I arrived at the figure above from the simple fact that there were about 500 people in line before me and no one else was in a wheel chair.

It is quite possible that there would have been wheel chair assisted passengers had they closed the special booth earlier, instead of right before me.  But I had spent about 30 min waiting to be assisted through customs, and I didn’t see anyone get help before me.  That was what made made the roughly one hour processing so painful; I wasn’t pushing myself, and the woman who was should have been able to get back to others.

So if you ever get the idea that it would be easier and quicker to get wheel chair assistance, let me say that is not my experience at Heathrow or Bush Intercontinental.  There are several points at which one sits around for 15-45 minutes waiting for someone to be free to help you. These add up.

Still, I resisted snarling at someone who got a wheel chair clearly destined for me, ‘Do you have a card?’ while waving my authorization.

And I remain amazed that we have yet another case of the fairly careless assumption that people with needs are seen as trying just to avoid what everyone else copes with. In comparison, the TSA’s response to my setting off alarms (artificial knee) was exemplary.

(In case you are wondering, let me say that my knee replacement surgery went as well as could be expected, but if you haven’t been walking properly for 3 years, coping with long distances and long lines requires more recovery time than I have had so far. This trip was almost too soon after surgery.)

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”

A petition and a brave spoken word performance aimed at bolstering diversity initiatives at UCLA.

Now you tell me that I should be proud to be at UCLA?
When only 35 of us are predicted to walk across that stage?
When most of us are dropping out from the lack of financial aid
While Judy Olian, Dean of Anderson School of Management just spent $647,000 on first class flights and hotel stays
But waiting for an apology is asking for the impossible
Because no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible
But you tell me I should be proud to be a Bruin

When we have more national championships than we do black male freshmen
It’s evident that our only purpose here is to improve your winning percentage
So now black high school kids can care less about grades, just as long as the number on the back of their jersey doesn’t fade
And you tell me I should be proud to be a Bruin