Notes for lecture on "Possibilities and Practice: The Heroic Task and Self Education."

The Hebrew speakers/the piano players in the room

Commencement and William James's goal of a college education

Constructional method ala Carnap, Goodman, Aristotle, Maslow.
(oughtness of the best questioned, then accepted if survives criticism)

How to apply the findings.

The statue in the WU library reserve reading room of the sculptor sculpting himself out of stone

Possibilities, the sculpture as its sculptor's model, self as task, as project.
The haunting why weren't you you question from the Hasidic tale/& or selection from Buber's The Way of Man According to the Teachings of the Hasidim  (Citadel Press, 1994).

The importance of understanding the limits and possibilities presented by the material (Lao Tzu/Buber).

The importance of not forgetting the neglected possibilities - Lau Tzu, Buber, Feuerestein
The role of mediated experience and human plasticity including brain plasticitiy (e.g, Reuven Feuerstein's work - see 

Bruce Ching, the secret of the martial arts according to Jou  Tsung Hwa; application of the secrets (investigation of the possibilities, practice. BCvideo  from Bruce Ching’s Warrior Healer blog).

The 10,000-Hour Rule (ch. 2 in Gladwell's Outliers) [and its limitations!]

The complaint “if I only knew Latin . . .”

Helen DeWitt's The Last Samurai.

BC recently recommended Amy Cuddy’s TED talk.  It does, I think, present a great example of how a person can rethink and achieve their own goals when circumstances cause universe to retiink how we  will make progress in the tasks we choose. Here’s a link to that:

The future and  . . . the Hebrew speakers in the room / the piano players in the room . . . .

Some authors to look at in connection with this, Aristotle (Ethics), de Beauvoir (Ethics of AmbiguityThe Second Sex),

Octavia E. Butler's essay "Furor Scribendi" in Bloodchild and Other Stories.
George Leonard,   Mastery (New York:  Penguin/Plume,1992).
Dave Lowry, Autumn Lightning, and other works.
Amdur, Ellis.  Dueling with O-Sensei: Grappling with the Myth of the Warrior Sage (, and other works.
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
Push Hands video of Chen Man Ching

Nelson Goodman, Ways of Worldmaking, and other works.
Abraham Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.
Jou  Tsung Hwa, The Dao of Taijiquan.
Jou  Tsung Hwa Tai Chi Magazine Memorial Issue [, see pages 11-12 for article on Master Jou by Justin Meehan that includes photos of Justin Meehan, Master Jou and Bruce Ching); 
Bruce Ching. A Warrior's Guide to Healing (illustrated by Adam Talley), and his Warrior Healer Blog (
Amy Cuddy’s TED talk -



M. Kagan, COR 400G/PHL 403, last revised March, 2016; some edits and additions 10.19.2017 minor revision, 11.07.2019. More revisions and additions, March, 2020

Le Moyne College

Syracuse, NY