The latest edition of the APA newsletters—fall 2017—is now available. This brief series provides a synopsis of the contents of each newsletter.
The APA newsletters contain a wide variety of scholarly material, discussion on relevant and timely topics, book reviews, and much more. All of the newsletters are available for download on the APA website.
Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience
The fall 2017 issue of the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and the Black Experience opens with a transcript of John H. McClendon III’s keynote address at the 11th African American Intellectual Thought Symposium, entitled “2016 Presidential Election: The Capitalist State and the Political Economy of Democracy.” McClendon’s essay includes an ideological critique of the US political-economic system and also explains Donald Trump’s election in terms of historical systems and structures.
Two book reviews complete the issue. First is Stephen C. Ferguson III’s review of Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy, by Justin E. H. Smith. Next, Myron Jackson reviews The Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad or, His Evolution in Western Civilization, edited by Tommy Curry.
Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy
The fall 2017 issue of the APA Newsletter on Teaching Philosophy contains essays on a variety of topics relevant to teaching in two-year and community colleges.
In the first essay, “Philosophy and Its History: Six Pedagogical Reflections,” Andy German discusses the ways in which a conception of philosophical history informs the teaching of philosophy and how that translates into the classroom.
Similarly, Nickolas Pappas also broaches the history of philosophy in “Philosophy That Is Ancient: Teaching Ancient Philosophy in Context.” He explains how a familiarity with the times can give students a better context for understanding ancient philosophical works and offers some suggestions for classroom instruction.
Next, in his essay, “Teaching about the Existence of God,” Steven M. Cahn suggests that the standard approach to teaching about the existence of God in introductory philosophy classes is problematic because it’s based in a set of misleading assumptions.
The next piece, “Considering the Classroom as a Safe Space,” by David Sakris, was inspired by an article by Lauren Freeman that appeared in a recent issue of the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy. Sakris acknowledges the need for safe spaces on campus, but argues that turning classrooms into safe spaces threatens academic freedom and the dissemination of knowledge.
The issue concludes with Christine Vitrano’s reply to a review of her book, Happiness and Goodness: Philosophical Reflections on Living Well (co-authored with Stephen M. Cahn). In her response, “On Happiness and Goodness,” Vitrano rejects the reviewer’s criticism as a misunderstanding and clarifies the view put forth in her book.
Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies
The editors of the APA Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies dedicated the fall 2017 issue to the contemporary Indian philosopher B. K. Matilal (1935–1991). The first several essays are largely complimentary, and they are followed by slightly more critical essays.
First, Jonardon Ganeri sketches a biographical background for Matilal’s life’s work in “An Exemplary Indian Intellectual: Bimal Krishna Matilal.” In the next contribution, “Philosophy, Indian and Western: Some Thoughts from Bimal Matilal,” Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad explores the relationship between Indian and Western philosophy and the continuing relevance of Indian philosophy today. Then Richard Hayes gives a personal account of his interactions with Matilal—from graduate seminars to dissertation supervision—in “Bimal Krishna Matilal’s Style of Doing Philosophy.” Next, Purushottama Bilimoria covers the “Three Dogmas of Matilal: Direct Realism, Lingophilia, and Dharma Ethics.”
The next three pieces take a more critical approach. Nirmalya Narayan Chakraborty offers “A Cautionary Note on Matilal’s Way of Doing Indian Philosophy,” in which he wonders whether Matilal’s efforts unfairly use Western thought as the standard by which we should understand Indian philosophy. In “Whither the Matilal Strategy?” Ethan Mills considers the limitations of the influential Matilal Strategy and suggests two possible alternatives. Finally, in “Nyāya Ethical Theory,” Kisor K. Chakrabarti provides a detailed discussion of Nyāya texts to explore whether Matilal may have overlooked significant contributions to moral philosophy by the classical Indian philosophers.
The last two essays consider the relevance of Matilal’s philosophy for the future. In the first, “Bimal Krishna Matilal and the Enduring Significance of the Constructive Engagement between Contemporary Analytic and Classical Indian Philosophy,” Anand Jayprakash Vaidya defends Matilal’s approach from criticism by noting that “analytic” can refer to a methodology, which is quite readily found within classical Indian philosophy. Lastly, the contribution from Neil Sims, “Expanding Matilal’s Project through First-Person Research,” considers one way in which Matilal’s project could be expanded to include first-person, phenomenological methods such as those provided by the Yoga school—methods that Sims argues should not be seen as irrational.
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