Wednesday, October 05, 2011

interesting conversation

Ever since I started following Nigel Warburton's Philosophy Bites on Twitter (I own one of Warburton's books, a basal philo text that I'd bought in Korea), I've been privy to links to many interesting articles. Early on Tuesday, I was led to Sam Harris's interview with his buddy Steven Pinker. Pinker has published a new book titled The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, a book that argues (as Pinker has contended for years) that global violence is, on the whole, diminishing. The wide-ranging written interview (I assume this was done via email) brings up many issues worthy of discussion.

Delighted at having found this article, I printed off the interview and took it to class Tuesday afternoon, wondering whether I'd be able to share it with a student. Fortunately, I was able to do so during my second session; this student and I ended up having a very interesting conversation. At the end of class, she even said she'd had fun, and that she was going to show the article to her AP European History teacher. She told me he's a conservative, whereas she's an off-the-scale liberal. I wonder whether she sees Pinker's argument as evidence of human progress, and I wonder what sort of conversation she's going to have with her teacher.

I don't often have the chance to go off the beaten path with my students at YB; they usually come to the tutoring center for specific sorts of help, e.g., SAT prep. Tuesday's class was a pleasant exception.


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