Coker’s Para-Philosophical Advice #2

Posted on June 15, 2013 by


Monkey Fun

Eunoia Solstice offers a column that gives you a chance to have your questions answered–or perhaps only thought about– by a practicing philosopher.

Send your questions to cokersadvice at gmail dot com.*

1. Why is fun so popular?

This shouldn’t even be a question.  People (the populace) like fun.  Fun is enjoyable.  Also, each person is at full liberty to define what for him- or her-self counts as “fun.”  Perhaps that is why it is so popular.

2. Describe a mentor or mentors who changed your life. 

a) Robert Scharlemann, Prof. of Religion, University of Iowa (when I attended from 1976-1978).  He was a German immigrant who fled the Nazis, who studied and wrote his Ph.D. Thesis under the great Lutheran Theologian Paul Tillich.  He also took some courses with Heidegger.  He introduced me to the great German Philosophers (Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, et al.) and Lutheran Theologians (Tillich, etc.) of the 19th and 20th Centuries.  He was my Honors Thesis Director.  Prof. Scharlemann left Iowa over a decade ago to take up an Endowed Chair at the University of Virginia. [University of Iowa Philosophy, in which I also graduated with honors, was Anglo-American Analytic.]

b) William (Bill) R. Schroeder, a University of Michigan Ph.D. in Philosophy.  I took my first course from Bill in Fall 1979, and continued to take courses from him every semester,  including my Ph.D. Thesis courses (he was my Ph.D. Thesis Director) until I finished.   He above all introduced me to the world of ‘Continental’ Philosophy, especially Hegel, Phenomenology, and Existentialism.  Bill became a friend while I was a graduate student, and remains my friend to this day.  I visit him whenever I make it back to Illinois, which is only in August.

c) Lawrence Schehr.  When I arrived at the University of South Alabama in 1986, three members of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature took me under their wing:  Bernie Quinn, Carol Lloyd, and Larry Schehr.  Larry spent one year as a Medical Student at Johns Hopkins University [note: one of the most highly ranked programs in the country], but got bored and shifted over to study foreign languages.  He was a genius at languages and many other things as well.  Larry taught me HOW to deconstruct.  Together we attended three conferences at the University of Alabama, two of which had both Derrida and De Man and their students, and one had Derrida along with his and De Man’s students.  Schehr introduced me into the world of what in Philosophy is called ‘French Post-Structuralism’ and its equivalent in Literary Theory.  I became addicted (much to my friend Bill Schroeder’s disgust) to deconstruction/destructuration etc.  He left the University of South Alabama about 10 years ago to become Chair of the Department of Languages at North Carolina State, and then left to take up an Endowed Chair and become an Associate Dean at my Alma Mater, the University of Illinois.  I began losing contact with him.  He, alas, died about 1 1/2 years ago.


*(Editors’ Note: You can ask about the meaning of life or ask about advice for the perfect gift for your husband, but be aware no one may like any of the answers [or even the questions]. Don’t let that stop you. Ask away–just know that Dr. Coker and Eunoia Solstice aren’t responsible for results–good or bad. We hope we may offer a service here, but also this is done in a spirit of fun. We don’t know what Dr. Coker will or will not answer and he has that right to choose. He might be able to tell you which translation is best for Plato’s works or why Derrida’s work is important or a sham. And he might not. He may be able to help you choose lemon or lime flavoring. And he might not.)