Archive for January, 2011

Scott Pratt

January 31, 2011

We’re talking today about the ideas of Professor Scott Pratt (U. of Oregon), who visited our campus last spring and planted the seed of my interest in our course topic. Don’t know much about native and indigenous wisdom but I’m having fun learning.

NOTE TO STUDENTS: Class canceled today. Check your email.

From Scott’s website:

In my book, Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy, I argued that the philosophical views of Native Americans played a significant role in the origins of classical pragmatism-the philosophies of John Dewey, CharlesPeirce, and William James. By examining both the Native American philosophical traditions that emerged in the interaction between indigenous Americans and Europeans, and the ways in which the work of seminal European American philosophers developed, I argued that a case can be made for the influence of Native American thought. In particular, I looked at the work of Roger Williams, Benjamin Franklin, and Lydia Maria Child, the Native American traditions that they encountered, and ways in which these interactions contributed to a developing and distinctive American philosophy. Among the aspects of native thought that were most influential, I argued, was the principle of pluralism…

When Scott visited us last Spring he began with a series of creation myths from the Tualatin people of the Pacific Northwest. In each rendition, successive native epochs are eventually transmuted into non-human natural forms. Each gains from its respective creation story a coherence and inner relatedness that binds the people to one another, to the land and climate, to time and place.  Each tale somehow “liberates” its tellers from the threat of stolen or wrongfully-assimilated identity. In the aggregate, the tales stand together as a pluralistic unity: just the relatedness to please a good pragmatist.

Such stories may strike the literalizing western-scientific ear as quaint, charming, but irrelevant. Native thinkers and their sympathizers instead applaud their instructive attention to Mother Earth, and their receptivity to her lessons.

Pratt’s pragmatic-compatibilist thesis is that we can learn from such native American traditions, without compromising our commitment to the scientific story. The native point of view is inherently pluralistic. The scientific image, so far, has not been.

Calling  the earth and its people a “creation” may hang up those of us who’ve grown weary of the stale Intelligent Design squabbles of recent years, but the indigenous focus is not on the idea of a divine Singularity event that produced the cosmos. It is not even meant to contradict the evolutionary emphasis on natural processes of development over time. It is meant to underscore the inclusive relatedness and sacred spirituality of everything.  With the right spin, it’s nothing Darwin wouldn’t welcome. Or a Darwinian like E.O. Wilson.

But it might be un-Christian. Everything means everything, in the claim that everything and everyone is sacred and already “saved” by its natural provenance.  If you’re really a sacred part of the whole, you can’t fall. You don’t need to be redeemed. You don’t need a missionary to rescue you from paganism.
George Tinker had a beautiful dream of pluralism. How practical is it? Well, how practical was MLK’s? More than it seemed in 1962, for sure. Same goes for the Lakota phrase mitakuye oyasin, and its inclusive/pluralistic disposition towards creation.

Daniel Wildcat’s vision– which we’ll begin to explore in greater detail next class– is not merely meditative, but “co-active” and pragmatic.

Here’s our puzzle and challenge: how to honor the wisdom of native tales like that of the Skyhomish, who imagined a primordial tribal council setting the path of the river, and the “school” version that invokes only physics and geography? Are these really complementary “knowledges,” the mutual preservation of which makes us smarter? The solution, if there is one, will look forward to fruits. It won’t try to lock down the one true story and exclude all others. Is that too plural? Or just plural enough?

FYI, for those wishing to understand and possibly emulate the spiritual journey of Ed Chigliac:  The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville is offering a course called “The Shamanic Journey,” February 2–March 2:

Interested in learning an ancient form of healing and self-knowledge? Sian Wiltshire, our intern minister, who has been a shamanic practitioner for almost a decade, will be offering a class on the shamanic journey—the central spiritual practice of shamans around the world. Bring your curiosity and your questions to this five-part class. Please bring with you a pillow, blanket, any rattle or drum you may have (not required), and a journal or paper to write on. Norbert Capek Classroom (Morgan House), 1808 Woodmont Blvd., Nashville

sovereignty & visibility

January 28, 2011

Our class discussions of the problem of suffering yesterday provoked the usual heat, and a little light too.

Someone objected that non-believers typically approach this topic without the appropriate sympathetic understanding, which is available (he said) only to those who’ve already grasped the meaning of divine “sovereignty” from the inside.

Interesting formulation, and it’s true enough that an honest philosophical inquiry must honor its own curious doubting spirit. It must stand outside the phenomena it interrogates, precisely because it wonders if it can go “inside” without compromising its own rational sovereignty.

Have devout insiders dogmatically made up their minds in advance, opting for the firewall of faith over the risk of reflective openness to critical scrutiny?  Is a sovereign Deity immune to all critique, an alleged something about which we’re to say nothing? Isn’t this the simple refusal of philosophy?

Someone else asked if we found it difficult or problematic to believe in the invisible? Can you believe in Simon Blackburn’s analogical dormitory “manager” who does not show? [see slides #26 & #27 in yesterday’s post]

This question reminded me of William James’s discussion in chapter three of Varieties of Religious Experience, “The Reality of the Unseen.” Religion, he says,

consists of the belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto…The more concrete objects of most men’s religion, the deities whom they worship, are known to them only in idea[s]…

But in addition to these ideas of the more concrete religious objects, religion is full of abstract objects which prove to have an equal power. God’s attributes as such, his holiness, his justice, his mercy, his absoluteness, his infinity, his omniscience, his tri-unity, the various mysteries of the redemptive process, the operation of the sacraments, etc., have proved fertile wells of inspiring meditation for Christian believers.

We love our favored ideas, and it’s no shock to find ourselves passionately differing over their relevance and application.

Can you see an idea? Is it visible? Sure, says the pragmatist: you see it in its fruits. If your ideas of holiness, justice, omniscience, and divinity and mine diverge, we should discuss them, think about them, modify them as conscience and logic command. Then, we should observe closely the concrete practical differences those ideas make in our respective lives.

If believing in a sovereign creator motivates your best behavior and calls you to yourself, good for you- and good for your idea of Him/Her/It. Just be prepared to reciprocate, when you come across a happy doubter who stands outside the circle of your faith. We can co-exist, we just have to want to.

That’s why I never insist that we all arrive at the same conclusion as to the power and probity of the problem of suffering. What matters most, finally, is our common resolve to reduce the world’s net supply of it. We have way too much.


January 27, 2011

Today’s Passion for Wisdom assignment centers on the problem of evil or suffering. Here are a few text-&-graphic slides on the subject to consider:

Answering Job PW 1.1… suffering… best… God… B’Bears… not niceDefending God (Crenshaw)…Optimism (Springs)

Terry Eagleton’s On Evil, “an attempt to take seriously the reality of extreme wrongdoing without recourse to either religiously grounded certitudes or a total sociological determinism”… Eagleton on the Pope

Bart Ehrman’s coming in February, to speak at MTSU. He wrote a book about the problem of suffering and how it led him to abandon his religion. God’s Problem is really ours, of course.

NOTE TO STUDENTS: syllabus correction. On Tuesday we’ll discuss PW  18-26, and on Thursday PW 26-33. We’re not ready for Socrates yet…

Also, a reminder: your midterm report summaries are due Feb. 17.  That’s just three weeks away. You should be in the process of selecting your topic and locating your textual source(s) now.

One more thing: Jennifer Hecht has a good discussion of the problem of suffering (and Job)  in Doubt, beginning on p. 62. I recommend it.

Yoga is discussed in our text today, the traditional Vedantic discipline which aims to promote personal “fitness” in matters physiological, emotional, and spiritual. Lately we’ve heard a lot about an American-style yoga that some purists object to… (John Friend’s Anusara School)… Tara Stiles, Yoga Rebel (“Who made these rules?”)… Stressed freshmenGil Meche

primal roots

January 26, 2011

Bruce Wilshire is a distinguished philosopher from Rutgers University. We’re sampling his Primal Roots of American Philosophy today in NW, to get a feel for what he considers the natural affinity between philosophy in the American grain and, well, the native American grain.

Emerson, Thoreau, Peirce, James, Dewey, Royce… these classic American philosophers were meliorists devoted to making things progressively better. But their “progress” did not sunder mind from body, matter from spirit, subject from object. With Black Elk they sought Spirit under the big sky, on this planet, here and now. That, after all, is where we are.  America has “evaded” philosophy, said Cornel West. But that’s a good thing, when what’s being evaded is an unsustainable “modern” schism between humans and the life-world.

I’d never considered William James a Shaman, but maybe that is the right word for those whose own good words and examples help to cure some of us of our inveterate, debilitating habits of mediation and insulation from direct and immediate experience of our world. James urged receptivity to whatever might be present to absorb one’s “life-currents,” to the purity of “pure experience,” to the sufficiency of the present moment. Future fulfillments, so much the focal center of pragmatic philosophy, depend upon our successful attending to the now. Like Ed, of Cicely (“could be you’ve been called…”):

The best text in James I know to convey the lure of the primal and indigenous is this, from On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings“:

…we of the highly educated classes (so called) have most of us got far, far away from Nature. We are trained to seek the choice, the rare, the exquisite exclusively, and to overlook the common. We are stuffed with abstract conceptions, and glib with verbalities and verbosities; and in the culture of these higher functions the peculiar sources of joy connected with our simpler functions often dry up, and we grow stone-blind and insensible to life’s more elementary and general goods and joys.

The remedy under such conditions is to descend to a more profound and primitive level. To be imprisoned or shipwrecked or forced into the army would permanently show the good of life to many an over-educated pessimist. Living in the open air and on the ground, the lop-sided beam of the balance slowly rises to the level line; and the over-sensibilities and insensibilities even themselves out. The good of all the artificial schemes and fevers fades and pales; and that of seeing, smelling, tasting, sleeping, and daring and doing with one’s body, grows and grows. The savages and children of nature, to whom we deem ourselves so much superior, certainly are alive where we are often dead, along these lines; and, could they write as glibly as we do, they would read us impressive lectures on our impatience for improvement and on our blindness to the fundamental static goods of life. “Ali! my brother,” said a chieftain to his white guest, “thou wilt never know the happiness of both thinking of nothing and doing nothing. This, next to sleep, is the most enchanting of all things. Thus we were before our birth, and thus we shall be after death. Thy people. . . . when they have finished reaping one field, they begin to plough another; and, if the day were not enough, I have seen them plough by moonlight. What is their life to ours,—the life that is as naught to them? Blind that they are, they lose it all! But we live in the present.”

We too often fail to live in the present, and thus fail to be present to our very lives. We lack the quality of experience that John Dewey revered as natural piety, “a sense of nature as the whole of which we are parts… marked by intelligence and purpose [and] a capacity to strive by their aid to bring conditions into greater consonance with what is humanly desirable.” A Common Faith

Thales to Democritus

January 25, 2011

Let’s begin at the (Eurocentric) beginning

NOTE TO STUDENTS: For some reason the syllabus thinks we’re also discussing Chinese philosophy today, but for the moment we need to focus on pre-Socratic [Phil Pages] western philosophers. Stay tuned, we’ll get back to Asia soon. I will give you this today, from Lao-tzu: “Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.” I’m with him right up to that lasts bit of advice, I think, but I’m not so sure “desires” per se are the problem. We can talk about it.

Thales, predictor of eclipses (585 B.C.) and owner of olive presses, gets a lot of early credit for trying to disentangle science and knowledge from magic and myth, and to discover an underlying unity beneath the appearances. “Thales believed a magnet had a soul since it can move iron, and Aristotle supposed that this was what Thales had meant when he said that soul is diffused throughout the universe.” (H)

Anaximander had the same urge towards unity in a single law-governed “primal substance,” which he thought was probably wet: long before Darwin and other evolutionists he suggested that humans evolved from fish. For him, “God” meant whatever creates constancy behind the flux of appearances.

Pythagoras (whose famed theorem, btw, was Younger Daughter’s stumper homework last night) rejected superstition and mysticism and defended a theory of cosmic harmony.

Heraclitus, philosopher of flux, was always sticking his toes in the river and being surprised by the experience.”All life and matter are the same force manifesting itself in a variety of ways—and that’s what God is, that’s his full description. God is day and night, winter and summer; war and peace, satiety and hunger.” (H) Call Him Zeus, if you want.What’s in a name?

The Greeks have a reputation for being progressive and creative democrats, but their slaves, women, and foreign guests might have offered a different perspective on this… not to mention the children on whom they doted in ways we’d consider inappropriate at best.

“Why is there air?” That was Bill Cosby‘s great philosophical mystery. (The answer: to pump up balls, obviously!) Empedocles, who thought a little too well of himself, thought he knew that too. If the earth is a ball, it needs to be pumped up. Love and strife will only take you so far.

Of all the pre-Socratics, Democritus and Leucippus are the most likely to strike you and me as prescient. Imagine, thinking of atoms in the 5th century B.C.

For shorter, sillier video renditions of the pre-Socratics, try Heraclitus & Parmenides, Empedocles, & Pythagoras.

native American wisdom

January 24, 2011

We begin today with Native American Wisdom, a collection of provocative quotations attributed to sundry indigenous sages.  Here are a few of the questions and comments they’ve provoked in me. Tell me yours.

All things are connected,” of course– whether Seattle said so or not– but just how intimately? Is the universe “internally” and determinately wired, or are the relations between us and our world loose enough to sustain our ambition and initiative?

And, just how much bigger is Mother Earth than you and me? How much does she suffer our collective foolishness and our consumptive excess? How much can we actually perturb and  derange long-term  ecological interrelationships and regional or planetary biodiversity? Do we give her too little credit, and ourselves too much?

We all spend forever on this rock, Annie Dillard once wrote, mostly “tucked under.” So the question of how we regard our ancestors, tucked already, is at the same time a question of how we see ourselves spending eternity. For those inclined to take the long view, it is a sacred question: the earth is home, now and always, to wave upon wave of human aspiration and repose. It is incubator and  sacred burial ground alike.

Native peoples famously revere the spirit of both the land and all the life upon it, and still they hold the humans to special account:  “A man who would not love his father’s grave is worse than a wild animal.” Humans  bring something new to the wild world. Human nature is larger than nature per se, in this respect, but is also inseparably a part of it. Human culture is “civilized” but it often needs the tonic of wildness. What does this complicated condition say about us? What special obligations, of  an ethical nature, does it impose?

Philosophical naturalists are not necessarily natural lovers of Nature, but indigenous naturalists always are. They’re born conservationists. But, conservatives, with respect to technology and science and “progress”? Is there a form of change naturalists can or should believe in?

I always think of native peoples as tribally territorial, deeply imbued with a sense of place;  but at least one of the native speakers we read today chooses to emphasize the concept of homeland as open and unbounded, not so much a particular place as an expansive and figurative landscape, a stage for uncircumscribed movement by free peoples across space and time.  How different is that, I wonder, from the combustible freedom of mobility we celebrate in our own time? When people nowadays re-locate for work or whim, and cruise for personal amusement, are they free? Or just untethered?

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.” How many words will we need to address this? Too many, no doubt. But this is the most interesting question I’ve found so far, in my own reflections on native wisdom. A proclivity for more silent forethought might be the most important thing we can hope to learn. Guess we’ll have to talk ourselves into it. [wordstalked outReality (conceptual shotguns)]

“We do not want riches. We want peace and love.” Another big challenge to the heirs of western ideology: is our civilization’s commitment to the perpetual expansion of wealth compatible with the other, simpler, humbler virtues we say we honor?

On the question of education, it’s hard not to feel one’s cheeks redden when reading Canassatego’s polite repudiation of “the white man’s kind of education.” Thoreau issued the same indictment in Walden, of the practical disutility of so much that we call “higher education.” Why don’t we all study “cabin building” and, if not deerslaying, then at least gathering, planting, and harvesting?

“We shall soon pass, but the place where we now rest will last forever.” Or, as I usually prefer to put it: “the things in civilization we most prize are not of ourselves…” We should be teaching our children that, too.

And what about a sense of humility before “the Great Mystery”?  If anything, such an attitude would actually reinforce the vaunted presuppositionlessness of the scientific quest.

“A pause giving time for thought was the truly courteous way of beginning and conducting a conversation.” But we hate the silent pauses, don’t most of us, most of the time? That’s a correctable deficiency on our parts, isn’t it? From fear of being taken for slow half-wits we leap into the breach, too glib to be good. A council of elders would find our typical exchanges brash and impudent. They’d want nothing to do with our classrooms, our courtrooms, our interview exchanges.  Don’t you sometimes feel the same way? Don’t you frequently find yourself wanting to push your interlocutors’ “mute” buttons, if only they had them?

I’ll give you a few moments to think about that. And I’ll shut up now, just for now. Your turn. Take your time.

Next time: Bruce Wilshire’s Primal Roots of American Philosophy.

500 days

January 22, 2011

You never know what you’re gonna get, when Older Daughter picks the Friday night flick. But I liked 500 Days of Summer a lot. Roger Ebert did too:

…so rarely in the movies do we find characters arguing for their aesthetic values. What does your average character played by an A-list star believe about truth and beauty?

Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why.

It wasn’t as cynical about the redemptive possibilities of True Love as I thought it would be, and it featured one of my favorite Alain de Botton books too: The Architecture of Happiness. We do have to build it, don’t we? And most times we do take our original inspiration from one source, and end up living with another. It had a nice, happy, not-totally-Hollywood ending: the possibility of love and happiness suddenly appears, for the re/dejected hero who’s been busy making other plans. But there’s no promise of “happily ever after.” He and we can live for now on possibility, just like young Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (cleverly evoked in this film).

It joins my short list of favorite stories featuring greeting card writers. (Richard Ford’s Lay of the Land is the other.)

But what about True Love, and the One Right Person? That still sounds too Platonic for me, in the way of the Symposium:

Each of us when separated, having one side only, like a flat fish, is but the indenture of a man, and he is always looking for his other half…

And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell…

The “something else” Plato imagines is the eternal abstract essence of Beauty. Real love is more precise, particular, transient, and lower-case. Isn’t it? Tom loves what about Summer? “I love her smile, her hair, her knobby knees…” But also how she makes him feel like a better person, makes him happy enough to break into gleeful (Glee-full!) song and dance on the way to work. That feeling doesn’t last forever, but it’s a good one.

And that was a fun flick. “Ive just seen a face” is the beginning, and the end, and the beginning…


January 21, 2011

“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.” Bill Watterson

He also said:

“There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.”


“Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.” Some people here think they won the jackpot. A student actually asked if I’d dismiss class, if it started to snow. I shoulda said yes, so we could all (like Calvin & Hobbes) get more nothing done.

Here’s another great snowy scene, a lot less scary:

passion for wisdom

January 20, 2011

“Doubt is the father of invention.” Galileo

“The ‘spirit of the times,’ moving through time.” That’s what we’re chasing, in Intro to Philosophy and Passion for Wisdom. But ultimately we want more than a snapshot of something abstract and transient. We want to make sense of time and spirit, situate ourselves in relation to them, and find something constructive to do with and through them. That’s a tall order, but on our second full day of class it still feels like we’ve got all the time in the world. (Beware that feeling, young people, it can trick you. But enjoy it while it lasts.)

The preface of this book, which I’m very attached to because I’ve been using it to introduce students to philosophy for many moons now, insists that the spirit of philosophy is no dusty relic on a museum shelf. It’s “dynamic and ongoing,” and sooner or later I guess I’ll find a new text to replace this one. But not yet. Bob Solomon had a warm, wonderful way of engaging students. I think he still does.

Note, btw, the last philosopher listed in PW’s  timeline: MLK, Jr. By my reckoning he played for my team, being a kind of Pragmatist. (Read his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” if you doubt it.) The best kind, in fact: he got things done, deliberately suffering and sacrificing to do so. (See last Monday’s posts.)

Philosophy has been around at least since our predecessors became aware of death and began looking for ways to cheat it- or at least remove its sting. It didn’t save our oft-maligned cousins the Neanderthals, whose cranial capacity actually exceeded ours. It remains to be seen if it will save us.

Written and recorded philosophy isn’t quite so old. The Vedas come originally from India.

Zoroaster‘s god now has an unfortunate nominal resemblance to a model of compact car. (Can you name Him?) He “was on the side of the good, but good and evil are present in all of us.” That’s still a common view, but as we’ll soon see it makes trouble for the notion of omni-divinity.

We have a Confucius institute at our university (as do a few others), and it might surprise many of us to realize just how many Confucians (and Buddhists) there are in the world. (Some worry, btw, about the implications of these government-sponsored entities for academic freedom.)

And Taoists, whose view of life and death is subtle and interesting (and, I noted in the Native Wisdom class yesterday, somewhat congruent with the indigenous view about nature and spirit).  Taoists and Confucians differ in interestingly subtle ways that mirror a spiritual choice we all face sooner or later when deciding where our greatest loyalties lie.

(If you really want to grasp the Tao, check out the Pooh-bear- or Benjamin’s Hoff‘s version, anyway.)

The ancient Greeks were borrowers: got their alphabet from the Phoenicians, their architecture from Egypt, and a surprising lot from Iraq. Also from Egypt they got Dionysus (aka Osiris), god of wine and fun, harbinger of eternity.

“Better never to have been born…” Speak for yourself, Silenus. (You’d never guess he was Dionysus’s sidekick, from that statement.) He was deploring the chaos of existence, and its inevitable pain. The same hunger for law-like order in the universe created the quest for logos.

Once again, just so everybody’s got it: philosophy means the love of wisdom. But, what is that again? Another great big book on the subject has again recently been published, this one by Stephen Hall and with an interest in contemporary neuroscience (just like David Brooks’s recent piece in the New Yorker). Maybe someone will want to take a look at it and work up a report, before the semester ends?

native wisdom

January 19, 2011

“We learn by teaching.” My page-a-day’s proverb this morning is perfect, for Day 1 (finally!) of Environmental Ethics and Native Wisdom (hereafter abbreviated “NW”).

As previously reported, the class was inspired by the visit to our campus last Spring of Professor Scott Pratt of the University of Oregon. He’s already sold on the total concept of indigenous and native wisdom. I still have lots to learn.

We’ll begin with a quiz, actually more a survey-questionnaire, to elicit an understanding of our respective starting-points with regard to the key terms our impending study.

What, for instance, should we understand by “environment”? It’s not just extra-human nature, is it? Aren’t we all, in fact, parts of one another’s environments? Haven’t our proliferating and ubiquitous media environments become too big to ignore? Isn’t the world wide web an ecosystem?

How about “ecology,” “progress,” “nature,” and “culture”? Shouldn’t we be “for” them all? Aren’t we inseparable from them all?

Is there really a legitimate controversy about the climate crisis? Can anyone seriously deny the reality of anthropogenic global warming? But can we deny, either, the promise and possibility of new technological remedies for the problems we’ve created for ourselves and our planet?

Is industrial agriculture as we know it even remotely sustainable? Is it not insane to ship “organic”  food halfway around the world? Is most of our food even real? Can we ever bring our carbon footprint close to the now-talismanic  “350” again? What if we don’t?

Can we afford to keep on growing? Can we afford not to?

If our present relation to the Earth is fragmented and life-threatening, can we really embrace an alternate, more “holistic” paradigm? Is that something we should each aspire to, personally? Or do we have to be “all in” on this one, if the patient is to have any chance of recovery?

Is  “Mother Earth” a fairy tale? Is “Gaia” just a myth? Or is earth-centered goddess wisdom our last great hope?

What has any of this to do with the great-spirited wisdom of native and indigenous peoples?

And can we sustain a continued healthy  interest in expanding technology, exploring our world, and deepening the scientific comprehension of ourselves and the cosmos?

Here’s an intriguing flash of pop-culture memory, for those who recall him: is there a Commander Chakotay in our future?

And speaking of pop culture: does the world of  “Avatar” appeal?

Clearly we have plenty to consider. This is a course with real life-changing potential. I’m a little concerned about that, frankly, but I’m here to learn.

Mostly I’m just eager to get on with a course that should be fun, maybe a bit contentious on occasion, but (I predict) hugely instructive too. Maybe we can even hope for “enlightening.” I expect to learn a lot of native wisdom (including some wise words about the value of sometimes holding your tongue) in the weeks ahead. Our first reading assignment is here.

Note: a new collection of links has been added in the right margin, under “environment“- check it out, give me your suggestions, let us all know (in class and in “comments”) when you find good stuff.