I’ll admit that I didn’t do my best teaching today. For whatever reason, I had trouble getting the discussion going in meaningful directions in either class, and although my students were saying good things, I didn’t do a very good job moving those comments into conversation with one another. I don’t know whether I was just tired (I was up a fair bit with a restless Micah last night) or whether I hadn’t prepared adequately, but I was off today.
Our material was book three of Consolation of Philosophy, the section that most profoundly influenced medieval philosophy and, as a result, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I borrowed from both writers fairly frequently as we discussed positive and privative theories of evil. (I didn’t use those words; I want them to have a few days for today’s conversation to simmer before I give them nifty labels for the theories.) We also talked about Platonic monotheism and Boethius’s confusing hymn to God. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the difference between philosophic theology and revealed theology, but the first couple student questions in each class deflated me quickly. Again, part of the difficulty likely arose because Micah was up and very attention-needy this morning, somewhat cramping the time when I usually review my notes, but I also think I should have thought harder on what I was teaching.
Self-flogging aside, the question of evil is one to which I enjoy introducing students, and Boethius is a wonderful text through which to introduce it. In both classes we had some Boethians and some Manicheans, and I imagine that if nothing else, as they write their papers on freedom they’ll do some thinking on it.
I wrote a piece over at Conservative Reformed Mafia with which I’m somewhat pleased, so I’m going to go ahead and link to it. I wasn’t sure whether to post it here or there, but I think that the exploratory philosophy is worthy of CRM’s wider readership, so there you go. It’s on spectator sports and the ambiguities involved in watching them.