Apr 14, 2016

Online Aristotle Course Now Enrolling!

My various viewers, readers, and subscribers have been asking me for some time about online courses that I might develop and teach, and which they might take.  After having worked with both traditional institutions and innovative startup institutions, creating online courses for them, I've decided it's time to start offering them myself, through ReasonIO

I polled interested potential about some of the course offerings I'm particularly interested to develop, and topping the list is the one that will be first - starting May 1, and enrolling now - Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.

If you'd like to enroll, or even to hear more about it - or to get on the list for future classes - you'll want to click here.

Mar 23, 2016

Freedom, Choice, and Success from An Existentialist Perspective

Last year, during several of the sessions of my Glimpses Into Existence lecture series, we got into an interesting and ongoing discussion that spanned several sessions, a conversation carried out in large part by some of the participating audience members.  The first talk in which this recurring theme came up focused specifically upon Franz Kafka's works and thought.

Mar 17, 2016

Free Online Resources on Epictetus' Stoic Philosophy

Since the beginning of my career, in my first Ethics class as a graduate student, I have been teaching Epictetus' Stoic philosophy.  At the beginning, I concentrated on his short handbook, the Enchiridion Once I discovered just how much of a richer Stoic perspective the four books of his Discourses (those we currently possess - there may have originally been eight) contribute, I shifted my focus towards introducing students to key passages from that work.

Last Fall, I designed, produced, and then taught an experimental open-access 4-week online course on Epictetus' Discourses for the Global Center for Advanced Studies (an institution I've since resigned and dissociated myself from), donating the course free of charge both for the learners and for that institution.  (As a side-note, I'll be teaching that course again, in an expanded 6-week version this coming Fall, this time hosting it through my company, ReasonIO.)

Building that class was a particularly fruitful exercise for a variety of reasons, the most salient of which here are that - because of the way I structure online courses - it involved me in creating a lot of resources on Epictetus for my students, some of which I've aggregated and linked to here for anyone who would like to check them out or use them.  (As another side-note, someone might ask: Why are you giving people those resources here?  Won't that discourage them from signing up for your class later on? There's a simple answer for that:  People sign up to take classes specifically with me because in the class site, I provide them with even more than what's here, and I hold weekly online class sessions as well.)

In any case, here's the resources - 14 handouts and 45 videos - developed for that class.  If you find them useful or enjoyable, feel free to comment below - and watch for the full class offered this Fall!

Mar 1, 2016

Half Hour Hegel Hits #100

One of the projects I started a bit over two years back - Half Hour Hegel - has crossed an important threshold.  The video lectures I've been creating, engaging in paragraph by paragraph commentary on G.W.F. Hegel's notoriously difficult Phenomenology of Spirit, now number in the triple digits.

With video #100, we're now just at the beginning of a lengthy section of the work, Reason (the second-longest portion of the text). We've gone through the Preface, the Introduction, the Consciousness section, and the Self-Consciousness section (which includes the famous Master-Slave dialectic).  So, although we're still early in the project as a whole, there's a pretty substantive digital commentary publicly available - for free - to anyone who has access to an internet connection and YouTube.

There are, of course (and thankfully!) some engaged fans and supporters who financially underwrite some of the work involved, through the Patreon site I set up to crowdfund this effort (if you'd like to see what's involved in creating one of these videos, here's one that I created walking viewers through the process).

It's quite a massive commitment and undertaking, likely to take me at least another three years of hard work to see through to the very end.  But, it's not only a project I view as an enjoyable challenge, but also hope will provide a useful commentary that will assist people in studying Hegel for decades to come.

Feb 21, 2016

New Lecture Series - Worlds of Speculative Fiction

After our move from the Hudson Valley of New York back to Milwaukee, we started looking for another library to partner with in order to offer a monthly series.  The Brookfield Public Library stepped up, and we began organizing the new series: Worlds of Speculative Fiction - Philosophical Themes.

The general idea behind the series is for me to reread classic science fiction and fantasy authors I've enjoyed in the past, and then to discuss with an audience of library patrons and the general public some of the philosophical themes either explicitly referenced or implicitly involved with the worlds generated within their works.

We've had two sessions so far - and here are the video-recordings from those talks:
In the months to come, we'll be looking at the works of ten more seminal figures in science fiction and fantasy - A.E. Van Vogt, C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. Leguin, Michael Moorcock, Phillip K. Dick, Mervyn Peake, and George R.R. Martin.

Jan 18, 2016

Five Course Lectures on MLK's Letter To a Birmingham Jail

In the online World Views and Values course that I developed - and still teach on occasion - for Marist College, the thinker who I chose to close out the 10-week class with was Martin Luther King, Jr.. The course, by design, centered on issues such as the human person, moral norms and development, politics and society, culture and education, freedom and fate, inequalities and equality, as well as the nature of the greater reality within which the entire human sphere is situated.

I chose to make the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" the central text for that final week's study, supplemented by the "I Have a Dream" speech.  These selections were deliberate, not only because both documents articulate key themes and arguments of King's overall critical approach to American racism and justice, but also for a different reason.  They're both widely referenced, and occasionally quoted from, but (at least in my experience) rarely read by the current crop of students in the present.

Nov 21, 2015

Free Resources on Plato's Symposium

Back in the month of August, I taught a 4-week online course for the Global Center for Advanced Studies on Plato's Symposium -- a very enjoyable class, involving excellent student discussions!

When it comes to designing online classes, I'm a bit on the over-achiever side.  For every 2-hour videoconference class session, I produce a 25-40 slide presentation.  I also create video content, lesson pages, and handouts on the material we're studying.  Ok. . . so more than a bit . . . But my obsession is your gain, since I'm posting some of those resources here, free of charge, open-access.