Thursday, December 3, 2020

Alumnus discusses philosophy with students

New Yorker, father, philosopher, malcontent, in-progress: These are the words Plattsburgh State alumnus Jack Weinstein uses to describe himself. Weinstein gave a free-form lecture entitled, “Philosophy for the Common Person,” this past Thursday, Oct. 9.

“It’s a horrendous title,” he joked.

Weinstein discussed his experience with philosophy, what he’s personally learned from it and about his time as a student at PSUC. He visited campus, serving as an Alumni Classroom Experience (ACE) visitor PSUC Secretary Honors Program Sandy Boulerice said.

ACE is a program that helps make alumni visits possible and connects them with different classes during their visit.

Weinstein visited both political science and economics classes, and plans to visit a couple of honors program seminars as well.

“It’s public philosopy with a non-academic audience in a non-academic setting,” Weinstein said. “The best events on campus are where students and faculty come together to exchange ideas.”

Weinstein said he wanted his event to be interesting and fun to everyone, not just philosophy majors. “The more non-philosophy majors there are, the more fun it’ll be,” Weinstein said. “Philosophers are jackasses.”

He added that it can be a battle when it comes to two philosophers discussing something.

“I can hold my own,” he said.

Weinstein was a student at PSUC from 1987-1991, where he was part of the now extinct STAR program, which sought to help students with high grades but low SAT scores, and vice versa.

He joined the honors program during his junior year, where he “got to explore himself and be taken seriously as an individual,” he said.

Weinstein was also the first student to ever teach a course by himself as part of an experiment conducted by the school.
“[Plattsburgh] means very much to me,” Weinstein said. “It still plays a big role in my life.”

Anthropologist and Director of the Honors Program James Armstrong knew Weinstein when he was a student. “We met through a mutual friend,” Armstrong said. “He already had a presence to himself [as a political activist].”

Armstrong and Director of Alumni Relations Joanne Nelson put the philosophy event together, proposing to bring Weinstein to campus. “He models what the program is about,” Armstrong said. “I’m proud of Jack. He’s the embodiment of what the school should produce.”

Weinstein offers some food for thought for anyone who attended his event: Think how disciplines exist outside of the school and in the world.

Armstrong added to that sentiment.

“Disciplines overlap,” he said. “They inform one another.”

Email Angiolino Campodonico at Angiolino.Campodonico@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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