Moral education and levels of engagement

The weather report this morning called for highs in the seventies and partly-cloudy skies, so I decided to take my classes outside. 10:00 really is just a quiet group of people; even outside of the tunnel that is Park 123, they didn’t talk much. I can deal with that; it just means that I’m going to have to structure discussions differently.

Today’s reading was the culmination of Plato’s definition of morality. We rehearsed the argument, namely that morality consists of the reason’s governing the apetites with the help of the passions, and the students seemed to follow the logic. We talked about modern suspicions about reason and the distinction English still maintains in the words “rational” and “rationalize.” Overall we had a good class.

At the end of each class I asked them what they thought about UGA’s occasional desire to incorporate moral learning into the curriculum. Almost all agreed that the “alcohol meetings” under which fraternities and sororities suffer are infantilizing and resemble what Plato prescribes for pre-rational children. The verdict was split with regards to instruction in what Plato and Aristotle would call moral reasoning. Some said that what capacity for moral reasoning we might develop has already developed before we arrive on campus. Others thought that we could still develop morally.

If this looks like I’m lobbying for that job should it appear, perhaps I am. If indeed the university gets serious about some sort of moral education into the undergrad experience, I’d probably put my resume in for the job. I suppose I’d treat it in Platonic terms: I wouldn’t necessarily want that responsibility, but I’d be afraid that some idjit would get the job and really muck things up.

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3 Comments

Filed under Plato, teaching

3 responses to “Moral education and levels of engagement

  1. forestwalker

    –“We talked about modern suspicions about reason and the distinction English still maintains in the words ‘rational’ and ‘rationalize.'”

    Ah. Thank you.

    –“If indeed the university gets serious about some sort of moral education into the undergrad experience, I’d probably put my resume in for the job. I suppose I’d treat it in Platonic terms: I wouldn’t necessarily want that responsibility, but I’d be afraid that some idjit would get the job and really muck things up.”

    You’d be great in such a position. Here’s my local idjit charged with really mucking up the task.

  2. Nathan P. Gilmour

    I forgot to post that I talked about Plato’s recognition that apparent rationality can in fact be a pernicious desire dressed up as reason. I taught it as “transvestite appetites,” and I thought my students were going to lay eggs. πŸ™‚

  3. forestwalker

    “tranvestite appetites”

    Pretty good. Nearly laid an egg myself. πŸ™‚

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