What inspired you to teach your subject?
I really dislike bad thinking – jumping to conclusions, overlooking objections, glossing over complications, and so on. Philosophy can help us identify these kinds of bad thinking. It’s not just correcting bad thinking, though. With training, philosophy is a source of good thinking about important topics. If you can think well, you’ll do better.
Why is philosophy so hard?
Philosophy requires discipline, focus, concentration, and other virtues. In that sense, it’s more like physical fitness or learning a musical instrument. It’s more than ‘just thinking’. Those virtues are hard work, and you really have to want to develop them. The things we work on are also complicated and, often, very contentious.
What is your favourite module to teach and why?
‘Topics in Asian Philosophy’ is very fun to teach. East Asian philosophies have a very different vision of human life. Their concerns and interests are often very different to ours. In Chinese philosophy, there’s lots on etiquette, ritual, and the family, as well as more familiar things, like virtue, justice, and the good life. The classes are based around close reading of the texts, rather than straight lectures, and there is no fixed syllabus. This means more work for the students and the lecturer, but a deeper and more challenging experience for everyone.