bilgramiIn which a Bwogger gets in way over his head.

It is relatively intuitive that the goal of any college student is to attain some sort of meaning from the classes they take, so I thought that Philosophy Professor Akeel Bilgrami’s graduate seminar on the topic would be enlightening.  I sidled into a Philosophy Hall penthouse this morning with twenty students, all sitting around an enormous oblong wooden table that seemed like it belonged in Bilgrami’s Oxford alma mater.

The first few minutes of the class seemed relatively safe, going over administrative business and a brief introduction to the work of the main philosopher being studied, John McDowell.  While I knew that my limited Core knowledge of philosophy would be insufficient for any real analysis of Frege’s Puzzle or practical reason, Bilgrami’s presentation of the concepts seemed dangerously simple and instinctive.

For the first 30 minutes of class he lectured on some of his own ponderings on the weakness of will (essentially when people decide they ought to do one thing and do something else in a rational mode).  What came as such a surprise was Bilgrami’s willingness to accept the ideas of his students when in certain Culpa reviews would indicate something entirely different.  At the end of class he implored the student who was to present on the topic in an upcoming class to help him on the topic, which he is wrestling in the book he is currently working on.  In what seemed to be one of the most honest moments of academic humility that I’ve seen at Columbia, there seemed to be some sort of authentic meeting between teacher and student on a plane unpretentious and entirely indicative of some sort of basic scholarly morality.  Perhaps this is indicative of a higher level of academia that I have only begun to witness or a certain pedagogical strategy, but I couldn’t help but feel dejected that I will not be able to return to the class next week.