Years ago (gosh, at least ten years, how shocking to realise), I ended up moderating a public Philosophy forum. It’s long gone now but I am still friends with many of my fellow moderators including the wonderful Andrew Jeffrey, who really has not done much with his Academia.edu profile! Everybody who used the forum had a user name (typically not our ‘real’ names), and we were able to add a tagline which would be appended to all of our posts. My handle was Diotima and my tagline was “We are not thinking frogs”,1 which is from Nietzsche’s Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft (not meaning to be pretentious, but the best English translation of this as The Gay Science just doesn’t do it for me); Andy’s handle was Didymus and his tagline was “I have the questions for all of your answers”, which I believe is an original thought, not a quotation.
Anyway, when Dave Cormier asked me in the unhangout last Thursday how we could teach uncertainty I was reminded of Andy’s tagline and I cheatingly stole it (well, I acknowledged that it had come from a friend, so thanks, Andy!). For me that is an interesting type of uncertainty – I don’t think that I’m a post-anything type of philosopher but I never know what I’ll be inspired to think about next, or end up doing as a job, and it’s that sort of uncertainty that can be unsettling but is also exciting. I also think, given the uncertainty of life in general, that this is an important life skill to teach our students. There’s a lot of emphasis put on employability and graduate attributes at the University of Glasgow, and I don’t think we’re unusual in this. However, one comment that has stayed with me over the years is one made by Katie Grant. As she pointed out the real skills that she had learnt were not the ones that made her employable, but the ones that helped her to cope during her periods of unemployment. So true.
1. I love frogs. I grew up in the Peak District in a village called Froggatt, and it began there.