2016 Year in Review
Professionally 2016 was a very important year for me as my book Biologically Modified Justice was finally published with Cambridge University Press in June. It will be interesting to see what reaction this book gets from (1) other political theorists (admittedly it is a topic very few theorists are working on, but hopefully that will change!); and (2) scientists working in the fields of genetics and aging.
The ink wasn't even dry on Biologically Modified Justice and I have starting working in earnest on a textbook on genetics and ethics for Polity Press. Unlike the contextual, pluralistic moral analysis developed in Biologically Modified Justice, this new textbook adopts a virtue ethics/epistemological lens. So I have made much more work for myself by adopting a completely different theoretical foundation for this new work. I am hoping to make the final push to complete this textbook over the next 6 months.
I also completed 2 forthcoming book chapters in 2016, one for a volume on Virtue Ethics (my chapter is on virtue epistemology and democracy) and the second for a book on Ethics and the End of Life (my chapters is on justice and life extension).
I also taught a brand new 3rd year undergraduate course at Queen's on "Law and Politics" to 60 undergraduates. The course was a re-designed version of a graduate-level course I originally taught at UCLA when I was a Visiting Professor there in the Dept of Public Policy 3 years ago. This was the first course I taught with chalk and a black board in well over a decade. I really enjoyed it, and am slated to teach it again this coming winter term.
Personally, 2016 was another challenging year as my divorce was finalized and I continue to adjust to life seeing my children half-time and balancing managing a household and the kids and the demands of my career. Needless to say this is not an easy task! I am very fortunate to be blessed with the best kids a father could ever ask for. As a household of 4 males we seem to have found a division of labour that keeps the house functioning reasonably well with minimum complaints. I think that constitutes success! :D
Divorce is extremely hard on anyone who goes through it. I think for men, who typically lack an extensive social support network and who tend to be workaholics, these challenges can be significant. Also, as an academic whose daily job requires long hours of intense mental concentration, managing the intense emotions of grieving the loss of a relationship and the fear of being alone can at times be overwhelming and impede work. Thankfully I found the patience to accept and let these emotions run their course. I have found solace in the gratitude I have for my children, the intellectual stimulation of my career, exercise!, cooking, my volunteer work with inmates and kids, as well as making new friends and playing sports again.
There is a centuries-old Japanese art known as Kintsugi (pictured above)- the art of embracing damage, which has inspired a new integral element of my own personal philosophy.
Kintsugi involves repairing broken pottery with powdered gold. The philosophy behind this art is that the repaired pottery can in fact be more valued and treasured than the original pottery. The cracks add character to the pottery, the repairs are a sign of additional care and attention. If one accepts change and fate as unavoidable aspects of life the aesthetics of kintsugi can be appreciated. This is the philosophy I have taken to myself over the past year of living alone. I have high hopes for 2017, one aspect of which is I hope to return to more regular blogging here, especially as my writing for the new textbook progresses.
I wish everyone all the best over the holidays, and may 2017 find you in continued good health and high spirits!