How many kids still know how to build his own computer these days? Back in the old days, we build our own computers. We upgrade it and tweak it trying to make it run just a little bit faster. I wonder how may kids have ever seen how does a computer look inside the case.
其他文章﹕ humptidumpti (下期出題者)、洛言、Ｃ９讀與食、南杏、加燦、athrunz、mad dog、周游、leona、audreyma、Silver、Haricot、lomichee、chilli mom、 Petit_melon、Zero、hevangel、Vince、揚眉女子、Holly 、The Man Who Loves Everton、Mugen C、wanni、cr、Simon 木棉、michelle、軍師奶
This term instead of taking a philosophy course, I am taking a economics course, game theory. Technically, I am not taking a course, I did not register. I am just going to the lecture to audit the course off the record. It is one of those huge lecture with over a hundred of students. The structure of the course is fairly one way, the professor explain the course material in class and then hand out homework assignment. Unlike the philosophy course, I learn by interacting with the professor, this course is just a one way street of absorbing knowledge. I figure if I don’t need the credit and I don’t need another to mark my assignment, why don’t I just sit in the lecture and learn for free.
I am taking game theory not only because I am interested in economics, it is also I need this knowledge for more advance moral or political philosophy. Utilitarianism is always and will always be an important moral or justice theory. There are new research to field on applying game theory concept to calculate the utility function to determine whether something is moral or evil. Knowing game theory will give allow me to give more quantitative argument when I am making a moral claim.
In this course, I am using Wiki to take lecture notes. My ultimate goal is to create a knowledge database for my studies and I am experimenting with Wiki. Here is my lecture notes
It has been many years since I spend time in Toronto. Last time I came back for my friend’s wedding, I only stayed for a weekend. I did not even have enough time for my family, so I could not see most of my friends. I saw many friends in the wedding, but it is hard to talk during the banquet. It is too noisy and has too much distraction to talk about work, family and life in general. It takes a relaxing environment to talk about those touchy topics. This time I came back for another friend’s wedding and staying almost a week and I finally have the chance to catch up with them. My schedule is fully booked everyday to have lunch, dinner and drinks after dinner with my old friends.
We went to school together, we are about the same age, we are experience the same stage of life, so we share many common worries. I envy some aspect of their life and they envy some other aspect my life. It seems grass just is always greener on the other side. Some of my friends stuck in a technical job with relatively good pay but not much visibility about the future in ten years just like me. Some of my friends starting start-up to pursuit their dreams. Some of my friends left the industry and working on something totally different. Talking to my friends gives me some thoughts about my life plan and at the same time makes me learn to treasure the gifts I already have.
Out of all my friends, one made a pretty interesting career move. Guess what, he started a condom shop! We are all wondering, does he QA all the products sold in the shop himself? Maybe that’s why he never bring his girlfriend to the reunions. He knew we will ask very embarrassing questions. We are a whole bunch of engineers after all.
Block university has a applied disablity study program that is related to Pat’s studies in autism, so we drove to St. Catherine to take a look at the university campus. Comparing to the huge campus of UBC, Block seems very small. Even SFU or Waterloo seems big comparing to the several connecting buildings that is all of Block’s campus. The university campus store can tell you a lot about the character of the university. I checked out the textbook of the philosophy courses; I think Block’s philosophy department is much tougher than SFU’s. The readings are mostly original materials, unlike the comprehension textbooks use in SFU.
When I am browsing the titles in the university bookstore, I realized what I missed in my college days. Like those portrayed in movies or novels, university suppose to be a place for the quest of knowledge. Students should carry those thick wordy books around, then they sit under the sun and talk about the wildest ideas. They would have many complaints against the society, the government, the corporate, basically complain about the adult world in general. They dream about the future and talk about how they would make a change. Thinking back what I have done in my university days, it seems my time outside of classroom are mostly wasted. I just spent endless nights playing Warcraft with friends in the computer lab, went to Karaoke and get drunk on the many weekends. I should have read more books, pretend to be more intellectual and maybe even join some movement for a noble cause.
I have a friend quited her job and went to study MBA planned for a career change. Very unfortunately, now she graduate right in the middle of the fiancial crisis. Jobs opening is drying up everywhere, especially on the traditional MBA related industries. This year is a very though time for a MBA graduate. Luckily, although she quited when she went back to school, she is able to get back her old job. It seems things is not changed at all for her, except she lost a year of salary, the accumulated benefits and got a huge debt for the tuition.
If we are just looking at the result, yes, she seems to be worse off than before. However, there are many things cannot be quantified with a dollar sign. Instead of seeing it as a failed attempt of career change, it can be seen as a sabbatical. My friend always dreamed to study aboard and experience a different country. That was her last chance to experience the school life full time before she is too old to enjoy that. The course work she learned in school might not be very useful, but who knows what might come in handy one day. Most important of all is she had tried to go after her dream. No matter what is the outcome, she won’t have any regrets. Maybe when she look back in 10 years, her decision quitting her job to go back to school will have a different perspective.
Today is the last day of my philosophy class. The professor has office hour after the lecture. I don’t know which essay topic should I choose, so I went to see her. There is a small line up in front of her office. Some students want to check the grades of their exam, some other just like me want to discuss their essay. While waiting in line, I start the conversation with the classmates by asking them how do they think about the course. To my surprise, all three of them think the course is really hard. They did not get a good grade in the exam and not even know how to write a philosophy paper.
I chat with them a little bit more, I found out none of them are philosophy major. They take the course not because they are interested in political philosophy, it is because this course fulfill the requirement for a minor degree or is an elective of a certain a program. To them, this course is just another course, the final essay is one of the many essays due next week. The stop keeping up with reading after the exam, since the material in those chapters won’t get them any grades. They are very surprise when I told them I am taking this course for fun. I guess they wouldn’t believe why someone would eager to take a course that they think is a torture.
I remember I had the same mentality when I was in undergrad. A course is just a mean for an end, an obstacle between myself and graduation. I don’t really care what I learn, all I care about was getting good grade and an honor degree. I wonder does all undergrad think the same way. Students go to university suppose to learn enthusiastically and always aspire for higher knowledge. How come university becomes a system making students to jump throw hoops in order to graduate. It seems that is not the problem of university. I took the same philosophy course as the other undergrad students. I found the course very interesting but the undergrad think it is boring. If nothing is wrong with the university, then something must be wrong with the undergrad students. But what’s wrong with them? I was one of them too!
Footnote: Convention and Conventional Wisdom
Something is wrong with Kempton’s choice of the English title. The translation of 傳統 should be tradition. Convention usually means a big meeting which is not really related to conventional wisdom. I could not figure out the relationship between convention and conventional wisdom, so I could not write anything else except this analysis of the English title.
Next semester, my life begins getting back to normal, I am talking another philosophy course. I had class with this professor before, she is really demanding. In her class, she forbid any students using laptop, even for taking notes, because she think anyone with a laptop would be distracted by surfing the web. The course work load was normal, but her lecture expect us to do the reading before coming into class without explaining much background details. I didn’t do very well in that class, but that’s OK, I won’t really care about my grade.
My first class is staring on Monday and the professor already sent out email to the class to assign next week’s reading. I don’t even have time to buy the textbook yet. Luckily the textbook is available online at Google books, so I have to read the two assigned articles on my laptop this week. The work load of this course is not too bad, just two essays on top of the exams. I did introductory political philosophy last year, I thought the intermediate course would be more or less the same. However, I already found I am learning new ideas on the first two essays. The previous course taught about the all the -ism in political philosophy, this course talk about political theories, which is one layer deeper than the -ism.
I didn’t take any part time course at SFU this term because I have to adjust my newly wed life and I to work in India for 3 weeks in October. I am going to resume my studies next term. I can only afford to take one course per term, so I am working very very slowly to my philosophy degree. Next term I am taking intermediate ethic theory and political philosophy. The course is in the area of my study interest. I want to prepare myself well equipped to rebuke intellectual attacks from the both end of the political spectrum.
When I went to the bookstore pick up next term’s textbook, I have a habit of browsing textbooks of other courses, to see is there any interesting course I might want to take in the future. I come across many interesting and useful courses outside of the philosophy major. Philosophy is the mother of all subjects, which gives me a good foundation in making connection from knowledge in different fields. But I have to broaden my knowledge outside of philosophy into related areas if I want to survive in battle for the minds.
I observe that many leftists have a social studies background and many right-wingers have a economics background. I often feel kinda dumb when I read the theories quoted from both side to support their claims. Well, I sort of understand the quoted theories, they appears to be quite convincing in their context. However, without more knowledge on related fields, I can’t tell whether the theory really holds up or it is merely an intellectual bluff. I have identified a few other courses to take in the future if I couldn’t find a philosophy course fits my schedule on that term. Here is the list of core courses for my undergrad degree:
PHIL120 – Introduction to Moral Philosophy (done)
PHIL203 – Metaphysics (done)
PHIL220 – Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy (done)
PHIL242 – Philosophy of Art (done)
PHIL280 – Introduction to Existentialism (done)
PHIL300 – Introduction to Philosophy (done)
PHIL144 – Introduction to the Philosophy of Natural and Social Science
PHIL201 – Epistemology
PHIL240 – Philosophy of Religion
PHIL320 – Social and Political Philosophy
PHIL321 – Moral Issues and Theories
PHIL322 – History of Ethics
PHIL341 – Philosophy of Science
PHIL421 – Ethical Theories
SA250 – Introduction to Sociological Theory
SA350 – Classical Sociological Thought
SA351 – Classical Marxist Thought
SA450 – Advanced Sociological Theory
ECON208 – History of Economic Thought
ECON282 – Game Theory
ECON309 – Introduction to Marxian Economics
ECON402 – Advanced Microeconomic Theory
ECON403 – Advanced Macroeconomic Theory