Truth or consequences

I retired in May 2017 after forty-plus years teaching philosophy in various colleges, and I can corroborate the observations of Professor Hindman and Ms. Donaway.

Thirty or forty years ago, people listened to whatever the disc jockey selected for air time. Now, people can drive from Pullman to New York and choose to hear only what they want. One consequence is that young people are trained to think that they never have to hear what they don’t want to hear—including
campus speakers.

The remark, “When you remove truth from the equation, all that is left is power,” captures the appeal of the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling had a sense of the unease and malaise of current society when, at the conclusion of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, he-who-shall-not-be-named says, “There is no good and evil, there is only power.”

Schools once required philosophy courses. In the 1970s, Marquette University, where I earned a Ph.D. in philosophy, required two philosophy and two religion courses. My undergrad school required three—and I did poorly: C+, D, C-.

I was unprepared to listen to ideas that were not my own.

So it may be in WSU’s interest, as well as many other schools, to reinstitute the philosophy requirement. Then students will be expected to hear ideas that are not their own, discuss those ideas in a respectful and civil manner, think critically about those ideas, i.e., find reasons for holding ideas, and judge those ideas.

Richard J. McGowan ’76 

Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana

 

Running up the competition

I enjoyed the track and field article by Larry Clark very much. There’s nothing like a sunny day at a meet with so much going on. I remember meeting Dan O’Brien through Coach Rick Sloan, who embodied true Cougar Pride, and certainly the Pickler twins deserve mention for all their accomplishments.

Michael Cisneros

WSU staff

 

Correction

In the February 2018 story, “Truth or consequences,” we mistakenly named the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication doctoral student as “Rebecca Calloway” and ran a photo of her. The doctoral student is Rebecca Donaway, and a correct photo is on the online version of the story.