nonetheless can be cultivated, proficiency in which is often a matter of temperament, and which iscertainly no less important than the work of the philosopher. However, it is clear that being anexcellent teacher
an excellent philosopher constitutes something of a dilemma. It seems to methat given th
e materials of the mind and the varied demands on one’s time, one ends up
in fact, even choosing
one over the other.
At this point, I hope my audience is starting to see why I have entitled this short piece “Why I Am Not a Teacher,” at least in the sense that I just outlined. This does not necessarily mean that I
am a philosopher. Literally, I am an associate professor of philosophy at De La Salle University.But am I a
? I think of myself primarily as a writer and a researcher. As a matter of fact, I
hadn’t planned to be a teacher. Ten years ago when I was looking for a job in the mass media,
sending my résumé to newspapers and magazines, I got a call from Ms. Manauat, my former thesisadviser. As someone who had written her undergraduate thesis on feminism, I was one of thehandful of people she could think of who could handle a then-new course called gender studies. When I joined the Philosophy Department, I was advised to go to graduate school, as the jobrequired a graduate degree. Ten years later, here I am.Perhaps teaching is something I do that is incidental to my true calling. For any artist, writer,or even philosopher, surely the experience of creating the master work
while it may be an end initself
may be enhanced or completed by sharing oneself.
So even though I can’t say that teaching
is what I do best, some of my most fulfilling experiences occurred in the context of my profession.It gives me so much joy to share with others the books that I love, the thinkers I admire, the issues
I’m pondering. It is no secret that I can get quite emotional in defense of the existentialists. When
I first read
by Henry David Thoreau, I knew I just had to form a Great Works triad and
design a course around it. Since high school, I’ve been a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock
Holmes, and it delights me to be able to introduce my students to these stories in the course of ourdiscussion on logic and critical thinking. As a matter of fact, in my Introduction to Philosophy classes, we just finished watching the first episode of
the BBC series which is amodernized version of the 19
-century classic texts. Some of my students have become fans of thebromance between Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch (an effect I did not intend). And
don’t get me started on the occasions when I got to discuss poetry in class.
I guess my philosophy of teaching can be
summed up by Joseph Campbell’s famous statement,
Follow your bliss
. I think that if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, in accordance with the natural energies of your so-called daemon, and somehow your work or profession is basedon that, then everything else follows: Satisfaction, success, and who knows, maybe even fame. I
didn’t set out to be a teacher. I just decided to give of myself in the name of what I love. In our
discipline, one need not be particularly extraverted, good-looking, or even bookish. All you need isto love philosophy.Now that I have explained why I am not a teacher, I would like to take this rare opportunity toexpound on a couple of perhaps unpopular sentiments which I strongly believe in.