PSA absorbs Webmaster duties?

Aloha all! Some of you have expressed concern at the relative inactivity of the department website. Would you support the measure to create a new PSA office of Webmaster? It would be relatively simple, updates at most once a week. We are talking about specifically the events page/calendar on the official site and keeping the blog updated.

This office might consider keeping an up to date list of CFPs, conferences, meetings, awards, etc.

Let me know what you think or, even better, if you’d like to nominate yourself!

Of Politics and Madeleines: A Special Meeting of the Arendt Reading Group with Dr. Morny Joy

On Monday, when I asked Dr. Joy if she was still interested in coming to our Arendt reading group, I ever-so-subtly slipped in that I would be providing madeleines and chamomile rose tea. She appreciated the Proustian flair of the idea.

“Of course,” she told me during this afternoon’s meeting, “one dips the madeleine into the tea.” And that is how our meeting of minds began, with those plump little cakes the French call madeleines, and tea.

Morny Bookclub1

Joel and myself guarding the spread.
Joel and myself guarding the spread.

In darker moments, one might wonder why one doesn’t just read philosophy and its subsequent stream of criticisms and counter-criticisms—wikipedia—whatever, independently. Tuition is high and times are hard. But there are those precious little moments we all remember when a professor shared an insight, anecdote, etc. that you could never have learned from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online. Or at least, not have appreciated it for the gem that it was. (e.g. Sartre’s lobsters, Schopenhauer’s dogs, Kant’s Königsberg-party-boy-status). Dr. Joy’s knowledge of Arendt—not only as a writer, but also as a teacher—has a degree of intimacy that we can only hope to have achieved at some point in our careers with our own thinkers of choice.

Dr. Joy thinking about why she's not contemplating.
Dr. Joy thinking about why she’s not contemplating.

She explained that Arendt never really kept lecture notes—her goal was not to be pedantic, or operate with an output-input, knowledge-giver/knowledge-receiver notion of pedagogy—it was “to spark thinking.” “Her lectures were filled with stories, and anecdotes, and jokes,” Dr. Joy noted, “she had a theme, a purpose—Kant for example—but she wanted to spark thinking.” Admittedly, none of these jokes seem to be included in the lecture notes compiled by two of Arendt’s students, Cohen and Bruehl, perhaps one of the greatest travesties of philosophy-note-taking of the twentieth-century. (Secretarial aside: I always put a professor’s jokes in my notes—especially the ones they didn’t intend as jokes which just makes them funnier. And tiny doodles of hedgehogs.)

Morny BC 5The importance of thinking cannot be overemphasized enough—but what Dr. Joy’s company brought to bear, was just how important it was for Arendt as a teacher. Arendt took the importance of thinking to heart, and judged her primary responsibility as a teacher to be to teach thinking. In her articles on the Eichmann trials—later compiled as a book titled Eichmann in Jerusalem—she claimed that his crime was not thinking. Arendt believed that in a world in which everyone simply thought, Dr. Joy told us, holocausts could not happen.

morny bookThroughout the course of this academic year, the ARG! (Arendt Reading Group!) has encountered some difficult questions. 26% of those were solved by discussion amongst members, 3% solved by consulting Siri, but the rest were left to stew in the minds of the respective inquirer. Dr. Joy’s presence provided us with an invaluable opportunity to pose our questions to a notable Arendt scholar, and receive extremely thoughtfully constructed answers. It was clear from her interactions with us, that she was most genuinely interested in what we had to say, what we’d found interesting and troubling. Her answers tended to raise even more (i.e. maddening) questions than the ones originally raised. What I essentially learned was to ask better questions.

Thinking was certainly sparked today.

Josh and Joel clarifying the thinking/action separation issue.
Josh and Joel clarifying the thinking/action separation issue.

We are all very fortunate for the opportunity to meet with her. She may well come to future meetings of ARG! If you cannot attend, fret not, gentle reader, for she will be presenting at a colloquium on the 20th. Who/what will be there? Arendt, Ricoeur, natality, judgment—possibly madeleines, possibly you. Anything you could ever want from a colloquium!

  Politically yours,


P.S. Also, this. This is why we have reading groups.

He is becoming.
Allred is becoming.

Hannah Arendt Reading Group

The Hannah Arendt reading group will continue to meet on a mostly bi-weekly basis during the Spring 2015 semester. On February 1​8​th we will finish the last chapter of The Human Condition, “Vita Activ​a​ and the Modern Age.” Soon after the Hannah Arendt reading group will tackle The Life of the Mind. You do not have to have read The Human Condition to join us in moving through The Life of the Mind. Consider getting a copy now if you are interested in participating.
The Hannah Arendt reading group meets Wednesdays at 3pm.

Spill-Out Hours

Spill-Out Hours are a space for open-ended discussion of philosophical topics that are fresh on the minds of students just entering or departing from philosophy classes. They are scheduled conveniently just before or after a bulk of philosophy courses held on Tuesdays and Thursdays. As the semester has been progressing Spill-Out Hours have been more and more vibrant and well attended. We encourage and look forward to fresh perspectives from students wanting to continue or develop their philosophical thinking and discourse outside of the classroom environment.
Tuesdays 11:45-1pm in the Philosophy Dept. Lounge (Sakamaki C-305)
Thursdays 2:45-3:45pm in Sakamaki Courtyard (Makai)

EPOCH Colloquium

Fall 2014 EPOCH Research Presentation
Varieties of World Making: Personal & Public Functions of the Imagination
Friday, October 31, 2014 @ 2:00PM
Sakamaki C-308
In the fall of 2014, EPOCH organized a presentation of graduate research on the topic of the imagination entitled, Varieties of World MakingPersonal and Public Functions of the Imagination. The event consisted of four short presentations on different functions of the imagination, taking up the topics of: knowing by imagination, the phenomenology of boredom, understanding others through imagination, and imaginative projections of future politics. The presentation served a two-fold purpose. Firstly, under the guidance of EPOCH professor Arindam Chakrabarti, graduate research in the department had coalesced on the topic of imagination and the time was ripe for a public presentation of the work being done. In addition to philosophy faculty, students, and friends of the department, the presentation was well attended by graduate students and faculty in diverse fields such as history, psychology, and future studies. Secondly, the introduction of fresh ideas and new interpretive vocabulary served the purpose of the philosophy department colloquium series whereby our geographically isolated community in Hawaii does not remain isolated in terms of philosophical diversity and the introduction of novel challenges to our intellectual community. In the end, a productive discussion was instigated on a variety of approaches to the imagination with EPOCH’s presence in the department appropriately highlighted.
Presentation titles
Ian Nicolay – “Knowing by Imagining: Imagination as a means to modal and counterfactual knowledge”
Brandon Underwood – “Bored, by Kant: In search of a Kantian phenomenology of boredom”
Joshua Stoll – “Imagining Each Other: On some roles of imagination in interactive understanding”
Joel LeBel – “Projecting Shared Futures: Imagination as political faculty”

Use of the Philosophy Lounge (Sakamaki Hall C-308)

If you would like to reserve the Lounge for a meeting or event, please submit your desired date and time to

The Philosophy lounge is for the use of Philosophy students, so there must be a member of the Philosophy Department present at all meetings. If the meeting is to be held after hours, there must a member of the department who has a key to the C-wing of the third floor of Sakamaki in attendance at every meeting.

Good day,

the PSA

Tanke and Ames Dissertation and Publication Talk


  • Difference between getting a good job at a decent school and just being another application is “stuff”. Build your CV with publications. 
  • Publication makes the difference between those who get fellowships, visiting appointments and the like and those who don’t.
  • Try to publish prior to the dissertation process. During the process try to adapt chapters or sections so that they can be published or presented at conferences.
  • Importance of learning how to write for publication. There’s a difference between a seminar paper and a journal level article. Talk to professors about how to work a seminar paper in a publishable paper. 
  • When choosing journals to submit to, do you look for bigger names or likelihood of actually being published? Its different at different stages of your career. Think about best place for essay first. If its a paper in continental philosophy, start shopping it to the better known titles in continental philosophy. Take a run at the top titles first. Optimally, for our situation, try to have one publication in a graduate student title (like CrossCurrents), one in an Eastern oriented title, one in a Western oriented title. Maybe try to have a book review or two also. Show that you can do what everyone else can do, but that you also have something that no one else has (like non-western skills). Reviews are a good way to get started. So are translations.
  • Don’t pass off book reviews as articles. Treat them as book reviews. They demonstrate that you’re coming up to speed and that you’re conversant with secondary literature. 
  • Book review: talk about what the book is about. Then give critical comments about it. But don’t trash it. Be careful of being hypercritical.
  • Book notes are different from book reviews, but they’re equally good for the CV. Book notes are just descriptions of the book. There’s no real critical aspect to it.
  • Its easier to get published in non-Western than it is in traditional Western philosophy.
  • Reviews and notes should generally be on books that have been published within 2 or 3 years.
  • Rely on faculty for working on making a paper publishable and making contact with the publisher. Also look at back of journals for publication procedures. Journals will tell you how they want it. 
  • Journals love papers that reference previous publications in that journal!
  • Opportunity springs naturally from getting involved in the scholarly conversations.
  • Earlier you get started, the better off and more secure you’re gonna be.


  • You’ll live off your dissertation for several years. It’ll form your worldview and should be mined for publications.
  • Establishes your credentials. You’ve staked out an area that hasn’t been approached in quite the way you approached it before. You’ll become the go to person on that topic.
  • Pick a manageable topic. Should be summarizeable in two or three sentences. Be clear on what your thesis is, what your contribution will be.
  • Spend a good amount of time on your proposal. Summarize your thesis and give a chapter by chapter synopsis. It will be helpful to have that when you begin writing. You’ll probably go back to it often.
  • Difference between a dissertation and good dissertation that could be a book is that you go back and emphasize the distinctions, language, and contributions you’ve made.
  • The more you invest in the proposal, the more you save time in the writing process.
  • There’s a difference between a nebulous statement of interest and a proposal that has a clear cut point. 
  • You should be animated by a love and passion for your topic. Make sure it is your topic, not one pushed on you.
  • One way to avoid the problem of limbo, sitting between the end of coursework/exams and the proposal while still trying to make money to live and such is to have begun thinking about the proposal early, during your coursework, and having your coursework be oriented towards what you’d like to dissertate on. Coursework and exams are the scaffolding on which to build the topic.
  • Convene a meeting of your committee to brainstorm your topic more thoroughly. 
  • Keep balanced your teaching, writing, and coursework.
  • Treat the classroom as your laboratory. That’s where you can test out your ideas.
  • The dissertation process is about demonstrating that you’re a colleague.
  • Be cautioned about trying to please everyone and respond to every objection in the dissertation itself. 
  • The proposal should have a clear statement of the thesis, maybe a bit on methodology or why you’re dealing with the issue you chose, and a chapter by chapter summary. Usually the first chapters will be clearer and more well formed than the last chapters. That’s ok. You don’t have to have it all thought out before your writing. The writing is itself the thinking out. You should have a sense of where you’re going but the writing is formative. 

Job Talk Part 3

Meilin’s Job Talk: Teaching

To teach is to learn twice.

Take lots of time to prepare for class; detailed lectures; intellectual responsibility (you should know this or that about Kant).

–       But don’t overwhelm the students. They don’t need to know everything (you don’t necessarily need to be a Kant scholar to start understanding Hegel)

You might not even notice that you’re using jargon; be careful of that. Slow down your approach; learn to intuitively feel the class.

A less formal approach may be beneficial. Improv isn’t a bad thing!!! More conversational, less information driven may be beneficial.

Don’t expect them to grasp it at the level you do. They won’t. Most won’t continue philosophy and most are having their first experience of it.

Model doing philosophy for them. Let them see that you yourself are working things out. It’s ok to show that you’re uncertain, that philosophy is confusing.

Good confusion and bad confusion. Latter is you don’t know what’s happing at all, the other is aporetic. The aporetic confusion is the aesthetic form of philosophy – it’s the tension that we feel when we’re approaching the punch line. Get confused on purpose sometimes!

Reticence and apathy is difficult to handle and can be off-putting to other students. You might not be able to have an engaging, community driven relationship with all the students; it’s tempting to ignore the reticent and apathetic students for the sake of building and sustaining good relationships with more engaged students. That may not be the best move, but it’s likely to happen that way.

We’re journeying together (especially if you’re teaching a topic that’s not particularly in your area of expertise). Make sure your students know that.

Your students might lead you to think about texts and your readings of them differently. There’s no one way to read a text. This is part of the good of good confusion.

Take into consideration who your students are. Generally testing may not be the best way to evaluate their aptitude; but if you’re teaching at a place like Tokai, consider that they don’t speak English well, that they’re used to being tested.

Your persona as a teacher may change from class to class. In some classes, being more informal, more playful might work better than in other classes.

Sometimes conversation driven classes might mask that they don’t understand the topic at hand. Dilemma between P and p. It’s not always a bad thing to do most of the talking (deliver them the P) – sometimes students won’t be capable of handling conversation. But sometimes it might be important to sort of force people to talk.

Good relationships with students can make for a good classroom experience, even if you haven’t necessarily mastered the craft of teaching.

Historical approach versus figures approach versus topic approach: each has its merits. Textbook might be good if you want to mix up these approaches.

Consider the reading skills of your students. It’s rough for an 18 year old fresh out of public school (especially if it wasn’t the best public school) to deal with Plato or Kant.

Be careful of overpreparing! You still need to spend time doing other things, like your dissertation.


Job Talk Part 2

Tanke Job Talk

Components of an application

  • Cover letter
  1. Speaks specifically to advertisement and your skills and connects them. Introduce yourself, highlight accomplishments, and fit well
  2. Know about who you’re applying to
  3. Don’t go beyond two pages
  4. Present yourself as colleague not student.
  • Cv
  1. Put strengths first
  2. General info first; teaching; publications reverse chronological order
  • Writing Sample
  1. Abstract is important
  • 3 letters of rec.
  1. Need letter at least from chair of dissertation committee.
  2. Strength of reference… “I can only speak to these aspects” is bad sign…
  • Evidence of teaching excellence (teaching portfolio)
  1. Teaching statement (one page philosophy of teaching); make case that what you do contributes to mission of university
  2. Sample teaching evaluations… don’t overwhelm with meaningless data and don’t cherry pick. Summarize course evaluations; highlights and such… peer review of your teaching might not be a bad idea.
  3. Sample syllabi. Don’t just list texts… “Here’s how I’ll conceptualize it; here’s what students should take away from it; these are the texts that would be used; check out this syllabus”; get people engaged in the idea of the class, don’t just list a table of contents.


  • Jobs for Philosophers (now online)
  • (smaller schools; interdisciplinary jobs; visiting positions)
  • Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Share job knowledge

Reading Advertisements and Miscellaneous

  • Sometimes you can tell that they don’t know what they want.
  • Allude to connections to school (I’m from Boston too!; I have commitments to the principles of your mission statement)
  • Note that you might be able to create synergy with other departments if the advertisement suggests interest in interdisciplinary studies and cross-cultural studies.
  • Research Statement: Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, where you’re going. Demonstrate ambitions beyond dissertation.
  • If offer is weird, ask yourself why they need such things.
  • Rejections and not hearing is not a statement about merits, but about fit. IT’S ALL ABOUT FIT. Beware of the “spray and pray approach”.
  • If its in the add, its important enough to try and speak to it.


  • Read advertisements carefully. Don’t fake it or change yourself, but present yourself in best possible, realistic light.
  • (Before writing cover letter) Investigate each department; determine their needs. What courses do they offer regularly? What additional courses do they have on the catalogue that they don’t offer regularly? Are there any university-wide initiatives that your work could be seen as supporting?
  • Craft application accordingly.
  • Let people know which places you are applying and don’t be afraid to ask around about whether or not someone has a professional connection at the given department. This will not get you the job, but it will open doors.
  • Save your time and energy by focusing your search on jobs that are a good fit. Avoid “spray and pray”. If you have AOS, but not necessarily AOC, try it out.
  • Remember that there is no way to predict which places will select you for a screening interview or not. That is, don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that you think may be a stretch, if they are a good fit, and don’t be discouraged when you don’t hear from places that seemed like sure thing.
  • Look for a job that you can grow with.