Monday, July 02, 2018

I Still Do Philosophy Sometimes, Too!

Yeah, I've been busy playing music.

But I've also been spending some time this summer editing and expanding a paper on Socrates and Daoism. Look for an updated version soon.

Once I finish that, I'll do something more with this paper on the musical consolation that I presented last November at the American Society for Aesthetics annual meeting.

I just finished reading this wonderful book by Hans Georg-Moeller entitled The Moral Fool, which I came across while doing some research on Daoism. He argues, starting from some Daoist ideas, that we need less morality. (Really, less self-righteousness and the use of morality as a weapon.) It's quite provocative, at least if you've ever been tempted by moralism. I think that one could probably argue that his position still invokes moral ideas (or assumptions)--a rose by any other name, etc.--and I'm still pondering the way he attempts simply to absorb that point without allowing that it counts against his main claims. I certainly have found Daoism quite attractive as of late; it seems like a helpful antidote to excessive moralizing (in philosophy, social media, etc.), and probably is personally appealing to me for similar reasons as I am drawn to Stoicism.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

New Banjo Album

I recorded an album called Down Creek. Solo banjo, mostly instrumental, on two different banjos, with a version of "Wayfaring Stranger" at the end. You can listen and/or order a copy here: https://matthewpianalto.bandcamp.com/album/down-creek

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Updates and More to Come

1. The paperback edition of On Patience is now shipping out. Order from the publisher and use the code LEX30AUTH17 to get a discount on any edition.

2. Over the summer, my university-hosted webpage was deleted because the whole system was taken down. This means that there will be several broken links on old posts, and I don't anticipate trying to update all of them. However, I do plan to chip away at moving several of the papers I had up on that website to my Academia.edu page, as well as to "self-archive" some of the published versions that are now more than a year old.

3. My days of actively blogging and keeping up with blogs has passed. I never adapted well to the death of the Google Reader. I don't so much miss the academic gossip news blogs, but I do miss being in closer touch with a few others. But there's only so much time in the day, and when I'm not teaching, reading, or writing, I've usually got a banjo on my knee. If you're interested in that side of me, you can try looking me up on Facebook. Now that school is back in session, I'll be trying to get back to work on some philosophy of music writing. I'll have to decide what to do with this space.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Ethics Beyond Sentience

This paper has been forthcoming for the three or four years, but here it is in its final version, in the first issue of the Chautauqua Journal. In it, I probe whether moral consideration should end where sentience ends. I suggest not. Corpses and mountains, among other things, are discussed.

Thanks to Minh Nguyen for inviting me to write something, and to Erik Liddell (who has taken over the lecture series and journal project) for getting this out.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's Out: On Patience: Reclaiming a Foundational Virtue

Available in hardback and ebook via the Rowman & Littlefield website, Amazon, and other online sellers. A paperback edition will be released at a later date.



Tuesday, February 02, 2016

On Patience Blog/Site

I've sent the final manuscript off to my editor, and so now another round of (hopefully patient) waiting begins as the book finds its way into the typesetting phase. I've put together a blog/site for the book: On Patience: Reclaiming a Foundational Virtue (also the book title). I'll post updates there and in various other places, as they become available. There are links to a few other things to read on that page, too, while you wait for my book!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Happiness, Patience, & Banjos

Here's wishing all a (late) Happy New Year.

I'm currently wrapping up a multi-book review of some recent introductory books to ideas about happiness and the good life for Teaching Philosophy. I have joked that, paradoxically, this project has not been conducive to my own happiness. (But perhaps it's made my life better?)

Just as the fall semester was ending, I received a very positive report on my manuscript On Patience from the publisher's anonymous reader. I will be making a few changes, and if all goes well, the book may be published later this year! Stay tuned.

January 3 was my second banjo anniversary. I made a video of the tune "Last Chance" to commemorate the occasion and to document my progress, posted below. The general consensus is that I'm making good progress.



It's been an interesting, if obsessive, journey. (I spend a good amount of time practicing. But that's the only way to learn and improve.) I've learned a lot about the history of old-time and Appalachian music, all of which was pretty much new to me when I started learning to play. However, there's something about all of it that speaks to me--among other things, the DIY spirit of the music and the diversity of banjo styles (if all you know is Dueling Banjos, then you're missing out on the expressive range and stylistic possibilities in this peculiar drum-on-a-stick). The are also several things about folk traditions in general that contrast quite interestingly, from a philosophical point of view, with "high art" music such as the classical tradition. So it's been interesting to read my musical learning onto the reading I've been doing in the philosophy of music (where some but not all authors seem to forget about, or dismiss, folk music).

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Art & Banjo

I've mostly been a mole in the ground lately. Lots of reading about philosophy of music and art in general. A little writing on music and value (responding to some puzzling yet repeated claims by Alan Goldman). I'm going to try teaching philosophy of art in the spring. If you have any favorite books or articles or other tips, send them my way. 

And I've been up to quite a bit more of this, which is partly why I've gotten interested of late in arts and aesthetics issues: