Review Comment

[PHIL G9131] Aristotle

July 26, 2010

Mann, Wolfgang
[PHIL V3121] Plato and [PHIL G9131] Aristotle

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Look, I understand why Mann gets a bad rap. I didn't like him at first, either. He doesn't interact with the class much, snaps at people who show up late or text each other during class or just drop things, and he has this way of moderating every clause in his sentences -- "Socrates' message, if Socrates can be said to have a message, which is debatable given the ambiguity of the Greek word 'eudaimonia,' might be intended..." -- but after a few classes and a few cups of coffee, I realized that there's a great reason for all of those things.

The reason is simply that this man is brilliant. He zeroes in on distinctions in the texts that seem insignificant at first; but if you do the reading and make an effort to follow his lectures, you realize that he's actually giving you a nuanced and completely fresh way to read the text. He does take questions at the end of class, but they tend to be questions that don't reflect an understanding of his lecture, and he can be a bit short in answering those. However, if you ask him something worthwhile -- which is difficult to do; make no mistake -- he'll sometimes devote a whole lecture to working on the problem. After class, he's generous with his time (he reads everyone's papers, even though the TAs have already graded them, and leaves comments), and he's a walking library of scholarship, ready with an article for any topic you can think of.

In short, he's the opposite of pedantic. He's a good-natured and profoundly wise person under the gruff facade. His classes are not for the intellectually lazy, but if you demonstrate a real desire to learn from him, he'll hold your hand the whole way. He's not even a particularly tough grader, although you find yourself wanting to work for him. And he's actually very funny. He's often making jokes during class that go by totally unnoticed -- "To the extent that this is a good chair, what attributes make it such? Perhaps this question is too difficult." He is also surprisingly self-aware and will make subtle and clever jabs at his own jargoned speaking style.

I'm about to be a senior, and as far as professors go, I've had them all -- Dames, Gray, the Kitchers, Mercer, Moyn, Neuhauser -- but no one has made me fall in love with a book the way that this man has. Take anything he offers, do the reading, and drink a cup of coffee before class. Your life will turn around.

Workload:

Not bad at all. Two 8-page papers, difficult to write but graded kindly. Occasional single-page assignments which don't really affect your grade (they're graded in checks). Reading varies. Never more than 20 pages of text. Some of the supplemental essays are difficult but worthwhile, and Mann explains them very well in class.

May 22, 2005

Mann, Wolfgang
[PHIL V3121] Plato and [PHIL G9131] Aristotle

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Mann really isn't that bad. The key is to do the readings beforehand. I didn't do this for Aristotle and I thought he was pretty bad. For Plato, I did do the readings beforehand and realized that he's actually pretty damned good despite his horrible speaking style.

He's a really easy grader, too.

Workload:

Aristotle: midterm and final, plus two papers.
Plato: two papers and a final.

In both courses, the paper topics were on stuff we hadn't covered in lecture, so we had to interpret the text on our own. If that kind of stuff throws you, you may want to stay away, but like I said above, he's an easy grader.

May 11, 2004

Mann, Wolfgang
[PHIL G9131] Aristotle

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Mann is without a doubt intelligent; however he is consumed with the pedantry of a classical philologist. At no point during his seemingly endless lectures did anything of philosophical interest emerge. The majority of the class was spent pondering how to translate and re-translate various Greek terms, I guess in the hopes that such a futile exercise would give fuller meaning to AristotleÂ’s already dry and ponderous texts. The result was an exquisite torture that not even Dante could have concocted. Abandon all hope ye who enter this class.

Workload:

4 page paper, 8 page paper, midterm (impossible) and final. an exercise in hairsplitting.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G9131: Aristotle Wolfgang Mann 2009 Fall T / 6:10- 8:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G9131: Aristotle Wolfgang Mann 2008 Fall M / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G9131: Aristotle Wolfgang Mann 2003 Fall W / 2:10- 4:00 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL G9131: Aristotle Wolfgang Mann 2003 Spring W / 4:00- 6:00 PM 1