Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Is philosophy a waist of time?"

Ah, the hilarity of students (HT: PC):
In modern times, Utilitarianism is the doctrine that we should all strive to pleasure our neighbors. John Stuart Mill said that even if what is being said is true, it is still wrong to censor it. Of course, we cannot take it for granite that all of Mill's assumptions are true.


  1. I'm sorry, but I have to point out something about this post that may not seem so obvious. I may not even be right, but it's an observation that's worth considering from the view of someone who has worked teaching students how to read and write. It may be that some of these students have a form of dyslexia, which is not a bad estimate considering 10-15% of the US population has some form of dyslexia, and most go undiagnosed. Our own President may even be a perfect example.

    So while looking at this may be kind of humorous - to an extent - I think there may be something else lying hidden in these errors. Most are not errors in understanding the concepts. (Of course, if there were such errors, I wouldn't doubt that the students probably have a loose concept of the material anyway, something which is not altogether uncommon in the current academic climate.) But look closely at the errors themselves. Satan = Satin. granted = granite. Dog eat dog = doggy dog. These homonymic errors, though sometimes loose, are fairly symptomatic of dyslexia.

    I would caution in the future against ridiculing these students, and especially ridiculing the general "faults" of dyslexia. It fosters a culture of misunderstanding that I'm sure we would all rather avoid.

    (For some background, I'm an undergraduate student of philosophy, and I've worked for America Reads.)

  2. Thanks for the reminder. (Still, that "pleasure our neighbors" line really does crack me up!)

  3. No No ... A waist of time is a ... middle aged spread

    ( groan)

  4. Pleasuring neighbours is indeed classic utilitarian! And so is having the waist of time that all true pleasure seekers acquire. And I'm sure Mill would have indeed thought it wrong to censor truth, and that his assumptions were indeed not to be taken for granite.

    This student is a genius of dyslexia.


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