31 August 2005

A Contribution to One's Mikrokosmos

In today's Wall Street Journal, Walter Mossberg reports on two web-based personal organizers. This is an ideal solution for keeping a calendar if, like me, you have easy access to the internet and almost always work when connected to the web, and if you need to work from a variety of machines (for me: a desktop in my office; a desktop at home; my own laptop; my wife's Mac), so that synchronizing them all to a single calendar is impractical. As Mossberg writes:

It's a pain to keep updating calendar programs that live on multiple computers, even if you only use one type of computer, and even with the help of a PDA or smart phone, like my Palm Treo. And it gets far worse if you use both Windows PCs and Macs, or if you'd like to occasionally rely on public computers or borrowed computers on the road.
The two programs seem to be fairly equivalent in features, however Trumba OneCalendar costs $39.95 to subscribe for the year, whereas AirSet is free. (Yet amortize the cost of a good PDA, and even that fee turns out to be a good deal.)

One nice feature:
Reminder emails for appointments can be set up on both programs...AirSet emailed us daily reminders of the next day's schedule every evening at the same time. Currently, AirSet and Trumba offer to send free reminders to your cellphone using text messaging, and AirSet can also send free daily schedule summaries using the same method.
I've started using AirSet already.

Aristotelian Particularism

On another note , I finally was able to study Anthony Price's BACAP contribution from last year, "Was Aristotle a Particularist?" I may eventually post something on his arguments, but for the moment I wanted simply to show how he defines the question, which I found very useful (I cite with his permission):

A recent line of thinking which may further our understanding of Aristotle is particularism. This label, being applicable to somewhat different claims, rather identifies a tendency than a dogma. We may oppose particularism to generalism, trying to identify where he stands, through a variety of issues. The questions that I shall try to answer, each within a section of this paper, are the following:

(1) Does Aristotle suppose that an agent’s practical decisions apply to a particular situation an articulate general specification of eudaimonia?

(2) Does he suppose that there are any principles to guide decisions that apply without exception?

(3) Does he suppose that there are factors to be taken into account whose valence is invariable between different contexts?

(4) Does he suppose that, as Jonathan Dancy has put it (1993: 50), ‘there is nothing that one brings to the new situation other than a contentless ability to discern what matters where it matters’?

An extreme particularist reading of Aristotle would answer ‘no’ to the first three questions, and ‘yes’ to the last. I shall argue for positive answers to (2) and (3), and negative ones to (1) and (4).

Ergon Taken

My piglet has additionally given me a better appreciation of the force of the ergon argument. The truth is, my pig is very good at enjoying himself. He eats his fill, pushes some dirt around, mixes up some comfortable mud, and then lies down in it with complete contentment. A pig satisfied.

It's easy to look at him and think: He does that very well indeed. There' s no way that I could possibly achieve anything like that contentment. That role is, so to speak, taken already. I'd better look for something else--something I can do, which a pig can't.

The Sun is New Each Day

Well, I've been bad and plan to return today, now, to my practice of daily posts on Dissoi Blogoi.

In part I've been distracted by a new arrival. Yes, I have some very good news to share: we have a piglet. Yorkshire breed, very cute. In the last week I've built a small pen for him and a servicable pig ark. We don't yet have a name (suggestions welcome). Since we're not vegetarians, people advise 'Pork Chop' or the equivalent.

I'm thinking of arranging a philosophy field trip for my students in ancient philosophy. They'll find ample corroboration of "Pigs wash themselves in mud, birds in dust or ash" and "Pigs rejoice in mud more than pure water." Indeed.

08 August 2005

Correction to Review of Roochnik

Michael Kochin has published in BMCR a correction to his review of David Roochnik's Retrieving the Ancients. You may see the review here and the correction here. Here's the text of the correction:

In footnote 4 to my review of David Roochnik's Retrieving the Ancients (BMCR
2005.07.44) I wrote that "Roochnik nowhere in Retrieving the Ancients explains
who Diels is or the distinction between A and B fragments." As Michael Pakaluk
pointed out (on Dissoi Blogoi), my claim is false: Roochnik explains both what
Diels is and the distinction between A and B fragments on pp. 11-12, in the
initial paragraphs of his chapter on the Presocratics. I should not have
ventured such a comment relying only on memory and the absence of an entry for
Diels in Roochnik's index.
We'll leave it at that.

Teaching Ancient Philosophy

As the new academic year approaches, perhaps some of you, like me, are thinking about new ways to teach ancient philosophy in the fall.

Here is a question I'd very much like to pose to readers of DB--timely, too, given our discussions of the relationship between doing history of philosophy and doing philosophy.

I've always taught history of ancient chronologically. But has anyone had success teaching it by topic (or 'problem', even)? E.g. logic, ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of nature, theory of knowledge, psychology ('philosophical anthropology'), etc. I've thought of changing to teaching it in this way, and I'd be very interested to hear about others' experiences. Can this work in a semester? How?

06 August 2005

Forgot to Say

I forgot to say that we (my daughter, Maria, and I) arrived in Austria via Munich, where I was able to meet briefly with Richard King, an ancient philosopher who teaches at the University of Munich. A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing his book, Aristotle on Life and Death, for Bryn Mawr Classical Review (here). Richard is a wonderful scholar and fine man. We visited some churches in the Marienplatz together and sampled a pastry together--this at the request of my daughter, who aspires to be a pastry chef.

02 August 2005

Really Wish I Could Post, But....

Greetings from Mayrhofen, in the Zillertal Alps of Austria, where I'm hiking these next few days. I've found one internet terminal in a cafe and another in a bar (where I am now!). I've had to take care of some business in the occasion I've had to use these machines. I do have some items to post, and will aim to get at them soon?

Have any D.B. readers been here? It's an amazing place.