May 22, 2005

Neuhouser, Frederick Silver_nugget
[PHIL W3264] Hegel

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

Neuhouser is absolutely fantastic. Really, I can't say enough good things about him. He seems like a really good person, too - not just a good teacher.

Probably the thing that really sets him apart from other professors is how much he genuinely cares about the ideas in the texts. How a person can attain freedom in the world is a really important question, and you can tell it matters to him to figure out what these writers (here, Hegel but he's also into Rousseau, Marx, Kant, Sartre and others) have to say about it. The excitement he brings to the course carries over to the students in the room. We all end up wanting to figure these texts out.

The other thing that sets him apart is how good of a teacher he is. I can't really put my finger on what makes him so exceptionally good, but he's really fantastic. Lots of graduate students sat in on this undergrad-level (not even 4000) course. That should tell you something about how good he is. Also, if you go to Amazon, you'll see that students of his from Cornell actually wrote positive reviews about his books without having read them. They took a course with the guy and were so impressed that they actually went to Amazon and praised him! Wow, right? Okay, maybe that's a bit freaky, but it shows that he's inspiring.

And he's not such a hard grader. I've taken a few courses with him now and found him to be really very fair. Just don't B.S. on the papers and finals. That stuff doesn't work with him. If you attend all the lectures (he always teaches 9am classes - ugh) and do the readings you should do well. Really - either repeat what he says or back up you're own ideas well and you'll do fine. Random B.S. without backing it up will get you nowhere with him.

Workload:

Take-home Midterm, in-class final. Two papers.

Not very much reading, but it's Hegel so it's hard going. He explains it well. I would recommend re-reading the stuff after lecture. It's not so much, so you can actually do that.

For the final, he gives you the sections of the texts that will be covered beforehand (this was really nice of him), and he gives you three questions that are very similar to the three options you have to choose from for the second question on the final. That was unclear - for the second half of the final you have 3 questions to choose from. He gives you three similar questions beforehand, so if you prepare one of those you'll be in good shape to answer the similar question on the final.