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Just the Education I Needed


From 1963 to 1997 Gary Brodsky taught philosophy in Connecticut. I was enrolled in the Problems of Philosophy survey class during the spring semester 1976. His lights showed me that I was likely just another unwashed, ignorant American plebe, whose cultural consciousness, to the extent that it existed, had been shaped by the vapidities of TV and rock and rolling music. It was quite true. Year after year, “Mister” Brodsky (who insisted on formality of address—we were “mister” and “miss” to him as well) confronted the products of what must have seemed to him the appalling vacuity of American middle-class culture and tried to drill some philosophy into our heads.

He had little respect for this culture, as well as for us. He wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in today’s academic environment. His pedagogical style, which included sarcasm and contempt, along with his extreme Eurocentrism and undeviating, may have left lasting scars on the minds of many of his young, impressionable students. From what I could tell, his 20 or so classmates were quite able to accept his punches. I learned so much from him.

If we…

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