Pholosophy and Literature
Mentor / Lab:
Specific Research Area / Project:
Ancient Greek Philosophy, Ethics, Humor Research: The Good Ball.
The Good Ball is a philosophy curriculum for young people. The curriculum begins with Ethics through the teachings of Socrates and Aristotle in comic book form. My friend and colleague Chris Sellers works on the illustrations and I write the dialogue, we both work on page lay-out. The drawings help bring the student's awareness to the important conceptual features of the arguments in the original works, and the text animates, while at the same time simplifying, arguments about the Good life and why we should be motivated to live such a life.
I have been teaching Ethics at the college level for seven years, and I am deeply committed to helping students understand the moral principles that underlie their values. However, I also believe that in some sense teaching Ethics at the college level is too late for students—they have already developed habits, whether good or bad, for living. So I see it as imperative that young students get an early start on their philosophical education through Ethics, and then later, through Critical Thinking and the History of Ideas. In this way, I am committed to the moral development of the student from elementary school to the university.
My specific research interest lies in the Ancient Greek Philosophy that provides a foundation for my interest in Ethics, both theoretical and applied. I also have an interest in Humor Research, a multi-disciplinary study that I apply to all my research areas: Why does Plato use humor in his dialogues? Should certain types of humor (cartoons depicting religious figures) be censored? Does humor help in our moral development? Currently I am developing a course on Global Ethics, whose foundation could be said to originate from the Stoics and their conception of kosmopolites, 'citizen of the world.' My dissertation topic is on Plato's Metaphysics of Soul and its Connection with a Life.
I came to Purdue to obtain my PhD in Philosophy & Literature. I believe that the introduction of philosophy to new students must include a narrative, an example from literature, law, or news articles so that they may connect the abstract principles they are learning and apply them to their own lives. Taking classes in both Philosophy and in Literature (English and Foreign Languages) has helped me enrich my lessons for students' interest.
My time at Purdue has helped me become a better scholar and teacher. I am always learning from my students and from my peers in the program. Over the years I have, I think, become better at developing classroom discussion in which we are able to talk about controversial subjects such as abortion, racism, freedom of speech and so on, without the class turning into something you would see on a talk show on television. All the teaching experience I have had at Purdue, along with having mentors who give honest feedback, has helped me grow as a teacher, making my investment here all the more worthwhile.
In the future, I would like to teach philosophy at a university that supports my research interests in Ancient Philosophy, Ethics and Humor. I would also like for The Good Ball project to be incorporated in after school programs at elementary and high schools, in outreach programs for disadvantaged youth, and in free programs offered at the local public libraries. I envision The Good Ball being translated into different languages and thus reaching the hearts and minds of many young people around the world so that they would be motivated to live well and to live rightly.
- William McBride Travel Grant
- For travel to the 25th World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR) in Frankfurt, Germany. August 2011.
- AMINTAPHIL Travel Stipend
- For travel to the 22nd World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR) in Granada, Spain. May 2005.
- “Citizenship Practices.” Encyclopedia of Global Justice. Ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer Publications. (Forthcoming)
- “The Harm Principle.” Encyclopedia of Global Justice. Ed. Deen Chatterjee. Springer Publications. (Forthcoming)
- “Why is Stephen Colbert So Funny?” in Stephen Colbert And Philosophy (Chicago: Open Court Books, 2009)
- University of Michigan – March 2011 - Fun and Games: 15th Annual CLIFF Conference. | Presented paper, "Teaching Virtue Through Laughter and Delight: Sir Philip Sidney's Defense of Poesyand Book V of his Old Arcadia."
- The Olympic Center for Philosophy and Culture in Olympia, Greece. – July 2010 - XXI International Symposium of Philosophy: Plato, Platonism and the Moderns. Presented paper, "Polyphany in Book I: a Bakhtinian Analysis of Plato's Republic."
- Purdue University – April 2010 - 4th Biennial Philosophy and Literature Conference: Deleuze: Ethics and Politics. Presented paper, "Deleuze and Usurping the Moral Law."
- Fordham University – October 2009 - SAGP conference: An International Conference on Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. Presented paper, "Connecting Plato to Attic Comedy: Humor in Protagoras and Apology."
- Villanova University, PA – September 2008 - AMINTAPHIL conference: Free Speech in a Diverse World. Presented paper, "The Offensive and Vulgar: Protecting Speech and Expression in Comedic Venues."
- Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. – August 2007 - 23rd IVR World Congress: Law and Legal Cultures in the 21st Century: Diversity and Unity in Krakow, Poland. Presented paper "Justice and Friendship: An Analysis of Aristotle's Virtues Exhibited by the Judicial Reasoning in Brown v. Board of Education."
- San Francisco, CA – April 2007 - American Philosophical Association, Pacific Division. Response paper to Hartwig Wiedebach's "Pathic Existence and Causality in Viktor von Weizsäcker"
- Binghamton University – March 2007 - HUMOR and LAUGHTER IN LITERATRUE and FILM, conference. Paper presented, "Plato and Humor: how Plato uses humor to teach serious moral lessons."
- San Francisco, CA – March 2007 - National Institute for Humanities Education, "The Golden Gateway to the Humanities." Paper presented, "Men of our times: Man Underground and Jean-Baptiste. An existential analysis of bad faith in two literary characters."
- Washington University – November 2006 - AMINTAPHIL conference. Paper presented, "Is Kant's Concept of Duty Coercive?"
- University of Granada, Spain – May 2005 - 22nd IVR World Congress: Law and Justice in a Global Society. Paper presented, "Rectifying our Taste for Punishment."
- Berkeley, CA OWL of Minerva – October 2004 - Presented paper: What is Plato's Philosophy of Humor? Presented argument against attributing to Plato a superiority theory of humor, described Plato's philosophy of humor and gave analysis of Plato's use of humor in his dialogues.
- Berkeley, CA OWL of Minerva – April 2003 - Presented paper: Can Wisdom Be Funny?