I didn’t want to tell those students in that class linked with ethics that their job was to memorize and repeat the professor’s lectures. The pain though was probably more mine than theirs—the idea that writing should be reduced to that, to the “regurgitation,” of the lectures, to nothing more or less than a form of test irritates me no end.
Still, one student said, you mean they don’t want to know what we think.
What was I to say, “Of course not, you addled child. What planet have you been living on?” But I didn’t say that:
“Well, some do I am sure. But you have to be able to speak their language and if you can’t do that yours thoughts make little or no sense to the Professor.”
“But,” the addled child persists, “it says right here in the question (for the midterm) that in the last part they want to know what we think about (utilitarianism, Kant, Bentham, etc).”
“Alright then what do you think?”
This always tends to stump the addled child because he or she has not stopped to think that he or she may not have any thoughts on the subject…
“Well, I think,” says the addled child who then goes on to repeat in a more or less mangled form something the professor said in class as an objection to (utilitarianism, Kant, Bentham, etc)
I say, “Well, then, so you agree with the professor when he said “X” because you are saying the same thing (X) he said. That’s clear. But what do you think? Can you think of anything else? If not, I would strongly recommend that you memorize and repeat as your thoughts what the professor says.
Listen. It’s not that I don’t think something is horrendously wrong with utilitarianism. I mean what the hell is a “hedon” and how the hell do you measure it. As far as I know nobody has developed a “hedonic” measurement devise. But honestly, I have no objections, coherent ones, to utilitarianism that others have not had or that have not been brought up in class. I mean, what have you got. I didn’t make this system up. I don’t like it either. But the deck is stacked against beginning students especially when it comes to saying what you think. Maybe it’s better to know that memorization and repetition is required. Knowing that might save you time beating up the wrong bush. Wait, I mean, barking up the wrong tree. I am just trying to be straight and not beat around the bush.”
And just as I am getting warmed up, somebody says, “What IS a hedon?”