Tag Archives: philosophy

Term of Art: Cognitive Style

“cognitive style: The preferred way an individual processed information, usually described as a personality dimension that influences attitudes, values, and social interaction. Unlike individual differences in abilities that describe peak performance, styles describe a person’s typical mode of thinking, remembering, or problem solving. Having more of an ability is usually considered beneficial, while having a particular cognitive style simply denotes a tendency to behave in a certain manner.

Field Independence/Dependence A number of cognitive styles have been identified and studies over the years; field independence/field dependence is probably the most well known. Individuals view the world in different ways. Those who are called “field-dependent” perceive the world in terms of larger patterns and relationships, whereas those who are “field-independent” perceive the world in terms of discrete elements–they look at the pieces that make up the whole.

Most schools in Western culture favor a field-independent approach, rewarding students who tend to work and organize information on their own. These learneer are objective in that they make what is being studies into an object to be analyzed and understood.

Studies have identified a number of connections between this cognitive style and learning. For example, field-independent individuals are likely to learn more effectively by studying by themselves, and are influenced less by social reinforcement.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

La Marseillaise

“La Marseillaise: The hymn of the French Revolution and the national anthem of France. The words and music were written on the night of 24 April 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1835), an artillery officer in the garrison at Strasbourg, in response to a request by the mayor of Strasbourg for a military marching song following the outbreak of war with Austria on 20 April. Its original title was ‘Chant de guerre pour l’armee du Rhin’ (‘war song of the Rhine army’), but it became known as ‘La Marseillaise’ after it was sung in Paris in July 1792 by troops from Marseilles. It has had a checkered career as the French national anthem, being dropped in non-republican phases. It was first adopted in 1795 but banned by Napoleon when he became emperor. The ban continued after the 1815 restoration, but was lifted after the 1830 revolution. It was banned again on the establishment in 1852 of the Second Empire of Napoleon III, and was not readopted until 1879, some years after the establishment of the Third Republic.

Allons, enfants de la patrie,

Le jour de gloire est arrive.

(‘Come, children of the country, the day of glory has arrived.’)”

Claude Joseph Rouget De Lisle: ‘Le Marseillaise’ (1792), opening lines

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Abstruseness

“Abstruseness, n. The bait of a bare hook.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000. 


“Hieratic: An expression used to designate the severe, stylized forms of Byzantine art (and its derivatives) in which the presentation of the sacredness of a person or thing takes precedence over any naturalistic qualities.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Henry Adams on Experience

“All experience is an arch, to build upon.”

Henry Adams

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This reading on Ralph Waldo Emerson and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet might be useful in presenting high school students with a more robust biographical knowledge of this key figure in American letters. As a philosopher, Emerson was highly regarded by Friedrich Nietzsche, among others; his circle, known as the Transcendentalists, left a mark on American culture that is not always easy to trace, but of clear continuity once its traces are found.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Book of Answers: Willing Suspension of Disbelief

“Who coined the term ‘willing suspension of disbelief’? Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his critical treatise Biographia Literaria (1817). Coleridge used the term to refer to the ‘poetic faith’ of a reader in accepting imaginary elements in a literary work.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

David Hume

Like most of the material on philosophy you’ll find on this website, I wrote this reading on David Hume and its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet for one of three students I served over the years who took a keen interest in philosophy. Hume is an important figure in the history of philosophy, which was the primary criterion as I labored to produce material that would keep said student or students engaged.

These documents, however, may be useful for professional development. Hume did, after all, write on issues of importance to educators, particularly in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. And for our own purposes, and perhaps for students with an interest in it, Hume’s work on skepticism is not only important to an understanding of teaching and learning, but also a cornerstone of the Enlightenment.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


“Vorticism: An English movement, founded by Wyndham Lewis in 1912 and named by Ezra Pound, which reacted against Cubism and Futurism (while owing much of its outlook and style to them). The compositions were abstract geometric forms organized in arcs around a focal point (vortex). The chief aim seems to have been to make the British aware of advanced movements in modern art on the continent and elsewhere.”

Excerpted from: Diamond, David G. The Bulfinch Pocket Dictionary of Art Terms. Boston: Little Brown, 1992.

Ted Sizer on the Nobility of the American Liberal Tradition

“The noblest aspect of the American liberal tradition is its respect for diversity.”

Theodore R. Sizer (1932-2009)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.