June 06, 2005

Kitcher, Patricia Silver_nugget
[PHIL V3654] Philosophy of Psychology, [PHIL V2201] History of Philosophy II: Aquinas to Kant, and [PHIL V3251] Kant

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

I guess I'm in the minority of CULPA reviewers, but I didn't think Kitcher was too great (why did I take 3 courses with her then? I don't have a short answer to that).

The good parts: She's an easy grader. Just turn in average papers of adequate length and you'll get your A minus.

The bad: All texts covered are interpreted through the lens of the philosophy of science. Science is GOD (she'd hate me writing that, since she absolutely despises religion of every form and lets you know it at least a couple of times each lecture. She's ALWAYS making fun of Leibniz, for example. I'm not religious, but I find people who are so vehemently opposed to the religious mindset to be more deluded than even religious fundamentalists - but that's just me). And like most people in awe of science, she has an idea of almost inevitable progress in all things, including philosophical thought. The latest stuff is almost always the best. Well, that may not be a bad aspect of a professor for everybody, but it was for me. What else is bad? She seems to get lots of things wrong - or at least dumbs them down to the point where the author's point is completely obscured. She'll find fault with every position she teaches (don't worry, she's not so critical in grading student papers and will let stupid arguments pass if you write enough pages). I didn't find her very good at answering student questions, either. The really good professors can think on their feet and quickly tell which questions are stupid and which are worthy of consideration. Kitcher can't do this. Often, in response to a question she does not understand, she just restates what she said in lecture a minute ago, hoping the student will politely nod and go away. Other times, she'll concede a huge point that's completely devastating to the text she's teaching, only to come back next class to explain why the crticism did not apply (there were a couple of examples of this from Kant, but I've forgotten them - but someone who really knew her Kant would have been able to right away see the problem the student was pointing to and explain why Kant wasn't making that mistake). I've gotten the impression, after taking all these classes with her, that Kitcher does not have a great a grasp of the texts she teaches. She has her set lectures and she'll guide you through the main points of the text, but she doesn't have the thorough command that a really great professor has. I'd give her a B plus.