A Philosophical Outlook

Patricia A.C. (Trish) Glazebrook lives 28 hours in the space of the usual 24. You can hear it in her speech; talking with her is like watching a film projected at half again its normal speed.

In the second half of 2001, the visiting assistant professor of philosophy wrote three journal articles, a book chapter, and two book reviews, and delivered five papers at conferences. For 2002, there are two books in process.

Lest you think this sounds like no more than an above-average output by a hyperactive academic, consider that Glazebrook spends most of a workday each week on the road, driving the 200 miles from Syracuse, N.Y., to Bethlehem on Tuesdays and back on Thursdays. Her husband, a researcher in biomechanics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, lives in Syracuse. She commutes because the job is temporary: She’s replacing Carol Moeller, who began a two-year fellowship in bioethics this fall at Johns Hopkins University.

Each week Glazebrook spends Fridays in research and writing and Saturday cleaning up Friday’s work. Sunday is a day off, though it often includes practice time on the djembe drum, a West African rhythm instrument that Glazebrook loves. “I have a tin ear and can’t sing,” she said sadly. “But I have a really good sense of rhythm.”

On Monday, it’s back to the life of the mind. “I’ve told my husband it’s going to be like this for a while,” she said, “until I get tenure somewhere.”

So, over the holiday break, Glazebrook wrote and delivered two papers at philosophy conferences, working them in and around a visit from her English in-laws. “I was glad to come back to work,” she said when the spring semester started at Moravian, “because I needed a rest.”

Glazebrook’s speech has a soft burr at the edges. She was born in Scotland, the second of five daughters of a doctor and a medical secretary. The family moved to Liverpool, England, and then to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where her father practiced and taught oncology.

She chose an unfashionable area of philosophy for her specialization: the Continental school exemplified by Martin Heidegger. It’s not favored by philosophy departments at American universities, and Glazebrook has endured her share of sideswipes. “Sure, you can take Professor Glazebrook’s course,” said a philosophy professor to one of her students at Colgate University, where Glazebrook taught last year. “But then you’d better take a real philosophy course.”

However, Glazebrook’s treatise, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Science, which began as the dissertation she wrote at the University of Toronto in 1994, earned an Outstanding Book Award of 2001 from Choice, a publication that reviews books for university libraries. There’s no money involved, but she did get a gold star. She showed it to me.

Glazebrook believes philosophy should be involved with life, not detached from it. This semester she’s teaching a course called “Environmental Philosophy,” which debates the moral use of the earth’s resources. It speculates, for instance, that the careless attitude of loggers, strip-miners and cattle ranchers toward natural resources is just another version of patriarchy. “Mother Nature” is one more woman to be subjugated for the use of man.

Some old-school philosophers don’t give a hoot for eco-feminism or any of the other ideas that enrich the debate between consumers and conservationists. But Glazebrook believes that “it’s really bad when philosophy dislocates itself” from reality. “Philosophy should be predicated on reality,” she said. “Philosophy should be useful to everyday life.”

As in her own. Two of her sisters are geologists who work in Alberta’s oil fields. (Another is a classicist at Stanford University, and the fourth is an X-ray technician in Alberta.) A brother-in-law specializes in gas station site reclamation, finding remedies for years of petroleum pollution.

So when Glazebrook presents a paper on “The Recreation of Nature Through Technology” to a regional meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Atlanta in December, and uses oil-field restoration in Alberta as her real-world example— “Where do you think I get my information?” she asks.

January 29, 2002

Purloined Letters II
Second of two parts on student plagiarism. Includes local and on-line resources for students and faculty.
The Ice Skates Cometh
Bob Stinson finds a pair of skates.
A Philosophical Outlook
Profile of Trish Glazebrook, interim assistant professor of philosophy.
Faculty/staff honors, achievements, transitions.
Calendar of campus events.
All-campus annoucements.
The Write Stuff
3 students win on-campus prizes for essays written in Writing 100.
Fall 2002 Registration