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Week-long discussion of Kant working?

April 3, 2006

In my usual skim through the blogs of the day, I came across this comment. The original post was debating the merits of what I would call “think time” for students. If a student works a full time job, lives away from campus, etc., is that student missing out on an important opportunity for intellectual growth.

One response stuck with me:

To a person the non-trad dozen counted job advancement as the reason for getting a degree. And this should be taken into the discussion…higher education has moved from a scholarly elite to an educated/skilled percentage where contemplation gives way to skill acquisition.

You won’t get a job thinking big thoughts…

Dean Dad’s (DD) answer was that critical thinking allowed one to advance past the initial, entry-level job (which the degree allowed). Thus, for him, thinking the big thoughts had an ultimate career payoff.

Some of the other responses, though, argued that one should not be so focused on the monetary aspects of life: big thoughts are their own reward.

It was toward this idea that Inside the Philosophy Factory (IFP) posts:

I currently struggle with my students, trying to motivate them to read hard original authors in philosophy. Why should a modern student work hard to digest Kant or Descartes? The core of my worry is that most students will move away from working on the hard stuff and only take classes in disciplines that are “feel good” and not a challenge.

Where is the balance between developing the critical thinking that DD says will allow career success with the IPF assumption (I assume) that Decartes and Kant are worth the effort?

This week I will dedicate a week’s worth of postings (for the two people who read) to this discussion.


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