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Philosophical reflections from students

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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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For the PHIL 1000 Intro final paper, I have students to reflect on what they have learned, and share with me how it will shape their lives looking ahead.  It is more akin to ‘journaling’ than a scholarly exercise.  Reading them always reminds me why I love to teach, and it is always encouraging to see that students are capable of so much if you just feed them a little.  Here are some selections from the papers:

“We are forced to concede that there is a part of our lives that seems to not be ours to define: our birth; our awakening in this world.  This is the greatest mystery of all.”

“Humility is the most important attribute one would need in order to acquire truth in any matter.”

“The hardest class I have ever taken, and I frankly was dreading taking the class and not expecting very much, but I am glad I took it and learned more in this class than any of my others.” 

“Not so long ago I was a sheltered moron.  It’s true.  To be honest, I still am, but less so.  But I think philosophy will be able to further help me as a person in expand my horizons and opening my mind to new ideas.”

 “I now know that I actually do enjoy reading.”

 “A closer examination of some of the simplest states of mind like boredom and jealousy has revealed how rare and unique such phenomenon actually are in the universe.”

 “I want to be somebody; I am so tired of being a nobody.  The liberal arts have made me realize I am someone and can become whatever person I want to be.”

 “It is good to know I am not a frog because I don’t participate in froggy-ness.  Damn.”

 “I love Socrates.  He is my hero now.”

 “I discovered that I am most myself when I am in the water (pool, lake, bathtub).  I can be content with silence there.”


  1. Rob says:

    I especially like the final excerpt, a wonderful discovery of both practical and transcendent significance. Perhaps a fledgling mystic?


  2. Huenemann says:

    What a great set of comments! I never had a teacher express any interest in my own feeling about what I was learning. This cool disregard, no doubt, is why I turned out to be such an uncaring, skeptical materialist. Your students, on the other hand, will turn out to be sissies.


  3. Kleiner says:

    Oh, my class risks turning students into something much worse than sissies … it risks turning them into Thomists!!


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