Peter Suber

As Ben mentioned, I'm on sort of a Peter Suber kick. I was amazed by him as a student and am still amazed now purely as a reader. Anyone who has invented six knots, been a professional stand-up comic and taught philosophy is bound to be an interesting person. He has a profound mind, the vocabulary to articulate it clearly, and a knack for writing zingers that are both linguistically elegant and filled with insight. There are a lot of reasons that I find him interesting. But what I find far more fascinating than anything else is his sense of fairness.

I have never met or read anybody who is as willing to engage opposing points of view in as honest a fashion. He doesn't engage opposing arguments specifically to undermine them. On the contrary, he often shows ways to strengthen them that make them more persuasive than they were originally. But it's not a game. I don't think he does this merely to show that his position will remain intact when compared to even the best opposing argument. He does it, I think, in an honest effort to see if there's anything in them that is worth believing. He considers the possibility of having to temper, revise or even reject his own stance based on the points made by the opposition.

I'm a fanatic for this kind of flexibility of opinion. I only wish that I encountered it, and practiced it, more frequently. I recently found a short writing of his called The Clinical Attitude, which better describes the fairness and flexibility that he is an example of.

Good god, it's been ages!

Sorry 'bout that. I have no good explanations for my lack of participation and I'm not particularly interested in sharing the bad ones. Please forgive me if these seem a little on the brief side, but there's only one way to get back into the swing of things, so here goes...

Mark (one of my house/blog-mates) has been reading loads of stuff from Peter Suber's site. Peter was one of our Philosophy Prof's at Earlham College, and a particularly amazing one at that. He has an essay entitled "When we leave our desks" and it was originally a baccalaureate address given at Earlham in 1992. It generally works as a primer on Philosophy and specifically, for me anyway, as a kick in the pants.

My interest in politics has waned a little since about a month before the American election, but real life is always interesting. Since I constantly hear terrible things about what's going on in Iraq, I usually look forward to balancing it out with some optimistic news, Arthur Chrenkoff from the Wall Street Journal abides. This stuff from Spirit of America is pretty neat too.

Karla got me an IPod (20-gig style) for Christmas (we exchanged some gifts early), and I love it. I don't often listen to music through headphones and now hear what I've been missing. This morning I partook of some Magnetic Fields (69 Love Songs), Sufjan Stevens (Greetings from Michigan), and Neutral Milk Hotel (In the Aeroplane over the Sea). And it all has me thinking of splurging on one of these systems (or a variation thereof) from Apple. I have something like this at work, only a couple years old, and the things you can do from creating music, video, and doing photo editing is pretty amazing. Not that you can't do them on a PC, I've simply had much better luck with Mac's in this regard. Robert Rodriguez (another inspiring fella) is up to no good these days filming Sin City, using an HD camera and heavy post-production, but the main reason a filmmaker (especially one as notoriously penny-pinching and efficient as Rodriguez) can do this kind of thing is because of the crazy advances in technology from the past couple years. So it feels like time to either shit or get off the pot.

Oh and Joe, I found this one from Oxblog for you regarding the utility of school.

Ahhh... that's better.

UPDATE: Here's another link, with folks talking about making college mandatory?