Mikio Akagi ’08 Leads Philosophy Course

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Mikio Akagi ’08 is teaching three other students in a philosophy course entitled “Empiricism and Language in Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy” (PHIL 089S) this spring. The objective of the course is “to critically examine the treatment of language and linguistic phenomena by contemporary, Anglophone philosophy” through an examination of “key works by Wilfrid Sellars, John McDowell and Robert Brandom.” The class is currently reading Sellars’ “Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.”

“There were a couple authors in particular that I was really interested in … they kept coming up,” Akagi said of his chosen focus. When he “approached Professor [Richard] Eldridge to see if any of the professors would be interested … in a directed reading,” Eldridge suggested that Akagi himself direct the reading. The resulting course is “similar to” Professor Mark Goodwin’s Philosophy 022, a class that is no longer available.

How does it feel to be teaching a Swarthmore course? “It’s a little daunting, of course,” Akagi said. “I’m trying not to be too much of a teacher.” Instead, he hopes for everyone to participate “as peers.” “We don’t … raise our hands or anything,” said Molly Wilder ’09, a student in the class. “It’s pretty informal.”

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