The Elmer G. Beamer-Hubert H. Schneider Professor in Ethics, Associate Professor
What will it take for us to stop being presentists--biased toward our own generation against future generations? Presentism is more destructive than racism and sexism combined and magnifies both. We will have to discover fairness to future generations and become planetary citizens. This is the next phase of necessity for the dominant economy on Earth. It involves returning to some of the wisdom of the original nations in my country who were colonized centuries ago by “freedom” lovers and have still not received justice. It is consistent with a kind of ecologically and economically conservative localism. We may need to develop democratic trustees of future generations.
I’m an old school moral and intellectual egalitarian. I think moral universals are evident–especially in their absence–and I can’t see how truth isn’t objective–especially when we disagree or make mistakes.
My family comes from Ohio–the Bendiks as immigrants from Vlachovo, Slovakia to southern Ohio mining country (Belle Valley) and then later as residents of Elyria, and the Keymers from Oberlin, Lakewood and eventually Olmsted Falls. My father’s biological father, Clem Langley, had a scholarship to Western Reserve University which he couldn’t complete.
After attending public school in New Hartford, New York (which I loved) and being an exchange student in France at the Lycée Pierre Corneille, I studied philosophy and literature at Yale University, primarily with Susan Neiman. On her urging, I attended the University of Chicago for graduate school in philosophy, studying with Candace Vogler, Jean-Luc Marion, Martha Nussbaum and Charles Larmore, primarily.
In addition to assisting at an experimental high school in Manhattan and at Yale and teaching a bit at Concordia University River Forest, I lectured part-time for two years at University of Chicago where I won the Wayne C. Booth Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. I then taught full-time at Colorado College, American University of Sharjah (Department of International Studies), and LeMoyne College before coming to CWRU. At Colorado College, I organized the antiwar network. At American University of Sharjah, I helped accredit the Department of International Studies, opened up a space in the curriculum for students to propose their own course topics, fostered a student led re-evaluation of their constitution, and organized the first campus model U.N. for area high schools. At LeMoyne College, I developed a learning assessment system that folded discernment exercises and mentoring into the curriculum evaluation cycle from entering to exiting the Philosophy major. I was also a visiting professor of philosophy at Hamilton College where I experimented with some methods of Jacques Rancière and developed the technique of a verification cycle in a process journal.
My first book was The Ecological Life: Discovering Citizenship and a Sense of Humanity, and I co-edited Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future with Allen Thompson of Oregon State University.In graduate school, I worked on the research team for Dan Scheinfeld, Sandra Scheinfeld, and Karen Haigh’s We Are All Explorers: Learning and Teaching with Reggio Principles in Urban Settings -a book about one of the best school systems in U.S. at that time, and it served low income communities in Chicago. I am currently writing a book of techniques du soi (ethical self-formation exercises) called The Book of Becoming –A Ghost Story and its Shadow. It treats in parallel series humankind’s home, Earth, and the concept of an interpersonal home, or family. By exploring our ignorance about mass extinction and planetary environmental change as features of personal anxiety and the shadow of inherited dysfunction in a family going through divorce, I seek to wrest care for a moral home on Earth and familial love from the abrasions of history.
Clark Hall 310