Questions from DN Readers and/or for DN Readers


In lieu of a guest post today, I’m sharing a few questions from from Daily Nous readers. Perhaps you can help with answers…

Four of them were emailed in, and one I saw on Twitter this morning and thought would be worth asking. Answers and discussion welcome. (Questions are numbered to make it easy to indicate which question you’re responding to.)

  1. A friend of mine has a physical condition which makes it impossible for her to attend actual classes. She has been trying to find an online graduate program in philosophy. I was wondering if you have a list of such programs or, if not, would you be able to ask your weblog readers if they know of such programs?
  2. I’d love to see some a post on Daily Nous offering or soliciting philosophers’ perspectives on cannabis use. There’s a ton of buzz about the use of psychedelics or casual drinking, but not much discussion on how philosopher’s use cannibas for medicinal, creative, or spiritual purposes—anywhere. I think seeing discussion of it on this platform would help break some of the stigma that is still associated with cannabis use.
  3. In your appearance on an episode of Hotel Bar Sessions, you and one of the hosts, Leigh Johnson, disagree over the extent to which philosophers have to be online in order to succeed in the profession. I think this is a subject worth getting input on from a broader range of philosophers. Would you consider a post asking about it at Daily Nous?
  4. Fellow academic philosophers, do you leverage your education and training in philosophy to supplement your income as a faculty member? If so, how? What do you do? [asked by Moti Mizrahi on Twitter; shared with permission]
  5. I’ve found in my teaching that sharing clips of or borrowing/adapting jokes from comedians can help in getting students interested in and understanding certain philosophical ideas, and I’d like to increase my store of material. Could you ask DN readers to share clips of comedians doing particularly philosophical bits? [Please include a line about what you take the philosophical content to be.]

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Eric
8 days ago

I recalled online graduate programs being discussed here before and found these posts, but they are old and about PhD programs. Newer information about online grad programs in philosophy would be useful, and I wonder if people’s views about them have changed following a couple of years of pandemic and us all Zooming for everything.
https://dailynous.com/2015/06/01/distance-education-and-phd-admissions/
https://dailynous.com/2015/07/08/distance-phd-in-philosophy/Report

Pete Mandik
8 days ago

Regarding philosophy and cannabis, see http://ericsteinhart.com/cannabis/cannabis-home.htmlReport

Kenny Easwaran
8 days ago

One practical question about cannabis. It’s not uncommon for conferences and for non-academic organizations to provide alcohol at some social events (sometimes for pay, sometimes for free). Even though I’ve been to many such events in cannabis-legal states in recent years, I don’t think I’ve seen an event where cannabis is provided. What’s the explanation for that, and is that difference justified? (If the difference is unjustified, it could be that alcohol shouldn’t be provided or cannabis should.)

A few obvious things come to mind.

One is that every organization has some sort of natural conservatism, and largely does things the way they did the previous year. Until very recently, the previous year couldn’t legally offer cannabis, so places just haven’t changed.

One is that the consumption modes of cannabis just aren’t quite as well-suited to this sort of situation. Cannabis edibles are famously difficult for people to gauge the right dosage, and often take over an hour to take effect, by which point you might be leaving the event. Other than edibles, nearly all methods involve putting your lips on some sort of inhaling device, and contain far more cannabis (or extract) than one person will consume in one event, but putting your lips on the same object as someone else at your social event was frowned on even before we were in a respiratory pandemic. Alcohol, by contrast, has a convenient serving size where each person can have their own cup (and in fact, some people have many cups). It’s not uncommon for people to bring their own cannabis to an event and share it with friends, but harder to share with random other participants. I think something like this is the premise of a hookah bar as well, where you go with a specific group of friends.

It may be that the psychoactive effect of the drug is itself relevant. Small amounts of alcohol usually make people a bit more social and likely to talk and decreases social anxiety (while the effect lasts), while cannabis sometimes makes people more inward and reserved and increases anxiety. But conversely, alcohol sometimes makes people rowdy and problematic for others, while cannabis very rarely does anything like that.

It’s notable that similar social activities almost never provided nicotine even at the height of tobacco culture (except for celebratory cigars at some social events), but almost always provide caffeine (at morning and early afternoon events).Report

Not a user
Not a user
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
7 days ago

I believe this would be illegal in the two states I am most familiar with where weed is legal—I was under the impression that there were still strict distribution regulations. But I could be wrong.Report

Not a user
Not a user
Reply to  Not a user
7 days ago

But also, it probably presents issues if you are using university $ for your event. At least, it would for me! Even if I used my own money for the cannabis part, if the event was being sponsored in any way by my university they wouldn’t allow it.Report

--bill
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
7 days ago

Smoke, both tobacco and cannabis, is a problem for a lot of people.Report

Eric Steinhart
Reply to  --bill
7 days ago

Cannabis doesn’t have to be smoked.Report

Eric Steinhart
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
7 days ago

As far as I know so far (and laws are always changing), the distribution and consumption of cannabis in public places or businesses is still pretty much illegal in all states (with a few exceptions, like restaurants in Colorado and California).Report

Singular Set
Reply to  Kenny Easwaran
6 days ago

I’m not an attorney, but I would imagine providing access to something that’s federally illegal, even if distribution of this sort would be legal under state law (and I can’t think of a state where it would be, though I might be missing something), could be a problem, especially if the org or institution in question is interested in applying for federal grants or if it benefits from federal financial aid.Report

Kenny Easwaran
8 days ago

Is there a transcript of the Hotel Bar Sessions podcast? It looks like an interesting list of topics, but I’m likely to have a context where I’d read a transcript sooner than listen to an hour-long podcast!Report

P D Van Pelt
7 days ago

Question #5: this one interested me most because of its consequentialist implications. Indeed, it is useful at times to help drive home a point with humor. Great orators do this to effect. Writers, likewise. Though not among the great in either case, I have used humorous quips to break up the monotony of pedantic presentation.
It takes practice and a quickening of wit—more art, than skill.Report

Curtis Franks
Reply to  P D Van Pelt
7 days ago

I think the old joke about Kant showing up at a friend’s party and telling her, “I want you to know that I’m here not because I want to be here, but only out a sense of duty,” is thought to have consequentialist implications.Report

Anony Prof
7 days ago

On 4: I’ve been able to get some external research grants to supplement my salary (which is very low, and in one of the most expensive cities in the US; my spouse also works full-time). These let me add in a summer stipend of about 20-25% of my base salary, which has been crucial to supplementing our income; sometimes they can also buy out some teaching to give you more time to write. I’ve had to leverage my past strong scholarship to do it, and promise to write and publish more articles for them (these being well beyond what I already do or have needed for tenure, etc.)… I’ve been lucky though. I know not everyone can find and land these (especially depends on what grants/ projects might be available or running currently, what topics one publishes on, etc.).Report

Findus Lasagna
6 days ago

#5: Here is Always Sunny in Philadelphia explaining falsifiability in the philosophy of science:

https://youtu.be/U3Ak-SmyHHQ

Science is a liar sometimes bozos. Rock, flag and eagle.

#2: I think this is still taboo, so much so that I write under a pseudonym. It’s illegal where I am. I’ve never found it useful for philosophical thought. I did once do my logic homework stoned as an undergrad and have generally found it useful for rule-based tasks which require high concentration. I don’t find it to be any more creative than alcohol, and neither drug is especially awe inspiring. By contrast, I’ve found psychedelics to offer me genuine insight into philosophical problems I had previously been pondering. It’s very easy to slip into new-age stuff but certain ideas have just clicked while tripping. In terms of mental health, I think there is now a new wave of psychiatric pharmaceuticals based on psychedelic compounds. Certainly I’ve experienced benefits from tripping, although I’ve had plenty of bad trips too.

Overall, having used more than my fair share of psychotropics I’d say they are pretty useless for serious work in philosophy or the arts. I’m not sure how interesting they are either: you ingest something and perhaps go into a fantasy land, have feelings of oneness, have realisations about your life. It can be transformative but so can mountain climbing or joining the armed forces. I think some of the excitement may come from novelty: you’ve never felt like this before, it is mind bending, Do it enough and it becomes kind of routine; just another perspective but with the potential for elevated mood.Report

Graduate Student
6 days ago

5. This might be obvious, but Monty Python is a great source for comedic takes on philosophical ideas. For instance, the clip from Holy Grail where King Arhtur encounters the Anarco-Syndicalist Commune. You can use that one clip to illustrate probably ten different concepts in political philosophy. “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government!”Report