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. Other than that, I am a people person and also love thinking about things and creating. For a long time, I thought of my ideal as living a life of–admittedly modest–service, but my work has been more a form of solidarity; and I now realize that this is how it should be. “Service” from servus, slave. “Solidarity” from solidus--related to salvus, safe, and sollus, entire.
My family comes from Ohio–the Bendiks as immigrants from Vlachovo, Slovakia to southern Ohio mining country (Bell 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. My grandpa John Keymer 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. I was also oriented by globalization sociology and socio-spatial theory, rooted in work by Neil Brenner, whose Marxist orientation made me think as an undergraduate. Late in graduate school, I discovered the libertarian philosopher David Schmidtz, whose localism and attention to fair markets made sense to me.
In college, I was academically passionate about Kant and Kierkegaard, who made philosophy personal. But mostly philosophy to me was a critical practice around problems. Recently, however, I have fallen in love with the work of Jacques Rancière.
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. In Spring 2014, I will be a visiting professor of philosophy at Hamilton College.
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. I am currently writing a book of literature called The Book of Becoming -A Ghost Story & its Shadow, and a book in civics, The Anthroponomists! Planetary Agency & the Impossibility of Environmental Citizenship. 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.
Clark Hall 310