Create silence

“I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.” – Pascal

“The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased.  If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply, ‘Create silence’.” – Kierkegaard 

Many of my Intro to Philosophy students will be undertaking an exercise in creating silence over the next two weeks.  The exercise begins tomorrow at the end of class and runs until April 4 at the end of class.  Students are agreeing to:
  • not watch any television, movies, or other video
  • not listen to an iPod or other portable music device
  • not play any video games on any sort of device
  • not check facebook, twitter, or any other social networking site
  • not get on the internet (exceptions only for legitimate school work)
  • check email for only 15 minutes a day
  • treat their cell phone like a land line (plug it into the wall and leave it there)
  • not text message, video message, or use any other messaging/texting on a phone, computer or any other electronic device

Feel free to join us in our little experiment of cutting ourselves off from the cacophony of the modern world for a while.  When the exercise is finished, I intend to post selections from short reflections on the experience that students will write.

Author: Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

5 thoughts on “Create silence”

  1. For those who for whatever reason can’t meet all the conditions of the exercise, I would suggest committing each day to a meaningful block of time (2 hours, at the very least), during which you are cut off from any contact with any glowing screen.


  2. I’m having great difficulty locating the source of the Kierkegaard quotation above (which is, nevertheless, all over the Internet!).

    I’d be grateful for a pointer…


    1. I actually don’t know where that can be found. I have been familiar with the famous line for years, but do not now remember where I first came upon it.


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