Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Decorating My Door

Everyone else in the Philosophy Department here seems to have fascinating things on their office doors for students to peruse while waiting or wandering: announcements of interesting relevant events, cartoons, memorable quotes about philosophy. So this morning, on the day before classes begin, I went over to Asbury Hall and decorated my own door.

On it I put two announcements for the upcoming Prindlepalooza on this Saturday afternoon, an open house at the Prindle Institute for Ethics with music, yoga, meditation, snowcones, popcorn, and the screening of two films (No Impact Man,a movie about how one man and his family live for one year in New York City without electricity, toilet paper, and pretty much anything that will leave any sort of carbon footprint, and Waiting For Superman, a documentary that analyzes the failures of American education by following several students through the educational system, hoping to be selected in a lottery for acceptance into charter schools).

Then I gathered a bunch of quotes from Rousseau, as I'm teaching my Rousseau course this fall, and copied them onto colored index cards. Here are a few:

"Children brought up in clean houses where there are no spiders are afraid of spiders, and this fear often lasts through life. I never saw peasants, man, woman, or child, afraid of spiders." (Emile)

"I do not have the art of making myself clear to those who are not willing to be attentive." (The Social Contract)

"If I were the leader of one of the peoples of Niger, I declare that I would have a gallows erected at the country's border where I would caused to be hanged without appeal the first European who dared to enter it." (Reply to critic of the First Discourse)

"Let us therefore begin by setting aside all the facts, for they do not affect the question." (Second Discourse)

I don't know if I am ready for the semester to begin, but my door is!


  1. That was fun. Esp the spiders. Wait, I liked the 'not willing to be attentive the most.' Nope...The European's...it reminds me of the 'kill all the lawyers' quote. Truth? I loved the 'setting aside all the facts.' I think I'll have that made in vinyl lettering on a tile. Thanks for all.
    So, do you make a new door next semester?

  2. I will keep changing my door as the semester evolves - putting up new posters for Prindle Institute events and new Rousseau quotes, so my door will be an ever-changing decorative wonder!

  3. Awww, this brought me right back to Spring 2010!

    You should put up a present-day picture of the spot where he met Mme de Warens and include his description from the Confessions: "I should like to surround that happy spot with railings of gold, and make it an object of universal veneration. Whoever delights to honour the memorials of man's salvation should approach it only on his knees."

  4. You are so right, Dan! And I have a picture in that Leo Damrosch bio of Rousseau - just need to copy it and post it there. I told Diane she is going to ADORE having you as her TA this fall.