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School of Humanities and Social Sciences Critical Thinking (Newsletter): Junior Faculty Spotlight

Department of Philosophy

Michael “Fletcher” Maumus has been teaching at Brooklyn College since 2005 and begins this fall on a full-time lecturer line in the Department of Philosophy. "Fletcher has been one of our ablest and most dedicated part-time instructors. We therefore are delighted and grateful that we had the chance to hire him on a full-time basis. He will be a tremendous asset to our department and to the College," writes department chair, Andrew Arlig.

 

Professor Maumus has adjuncted at both Brooklyn College and Hunter College (he has also been a teaching fellow at Brooklyn College) and finds Brooklyn to be distinctive in that its student body demographically reflects the neighborhoods surrounding the College. He has found the BC community itself to be “warm, supportive, and welcoming,” regardless of whatever role he has played.  Professor Andrew Arlig, department chair, describes Maumus as "one of our ablest and most dedicated part-time instructors. We therefore are delighted and grateful that we had the chance to hire him on a full-time basis. He will be a tremendous asset to our department and to the College."

Professor Maumus earned his doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center with a focus on the meaning of proper names.  He is currently interested in the semantics of fictional discourse – in particular the way that we use names in fiction.  Muamus was influenced by the work of Saul Aaron Kripke.  Kripke is a distinguished professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Computer Science at the Graduate Center, CUNY and is said by some to be one of the greatest living philosophers. Dr. Kripke is author of the seminal works, “Identity and Necessity” and “Naming and Necessity.”  Maumus speaks of the pleasure it was to attend lectures at the Graduate Center’s Kripke Center by Saul Kripke and others representing a “’who’s who’ of eminent philosophical minds.” 

Philosophy 2101, Introduction to the Problems of Philosophy, attracts many non-majors looking to fulfill their general education requirements. Fletcher Maumus is teaching several sections of the course this fall and relishes the challenge.  He goes on at length. 

While I’ve loved teaching to our philosophy majors, for me, nothing compares to the experience of teaching non-majors. I often jokingly compare it to the charge of “corrupting the youth” for which Socrates was ultimately condemned. Having a complete tabula rasa allows me to open these student’s eyes to a world of questions, perplexities, and possibilities that most likely never knew existed in the first place. Teaching the non-major, therefore, gives me the most direct and immediate impact on these students’ thinking, values, and lives. It is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, but also one that I enjoy immensely. 

This new full-time member of the Brooklyn College philosophy department is a transplant from New Orleans.  Professor Maumus finds many similarities between Brooklyn and New Orleans.  Whereas his hometown is a “gumbo’ of Spanish, French, Caribbean and African influences, the philosophy professor enjoys picking up a quick meal from his corner Halal cart, or barbecuing with his Mexican-born wife, his stepdaughter and a Tanzanian neighbor on the roof of their apartment in his predominantly Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood.

Not only food has enabled Maumus to become absorbed into the multicultural fabric of his new home, music, specifically his band Grand Isle (Maumus writes, sings and plays guitar), allows him to connect with his community.  Moreover, for Maumus, music and philosophy are intertwined.  He points out that “ancient cultures often viewed music as sacred – as if it were inextricably linked with the order of the cosmos.”  He goes on to say, “I’ve always felt my music and my pedagogy to be the most closely related aspects of my life. At the end of the day, both are fundamentally about trying to make aconnection and communicate something deeply meaningful to me. Whether I’m making music or teaching philosophy, if I can make you understand or see something in a new way – a thought, a perspective, a seemingly ineffable feeling or emotion – then I’ve done my job.”

 

Philosophy Professor Fletcher Maumus playing with an earlier band, The Whims,
at Arlene's Grocery. Listen to tracks here.  


Professor Maumus is interviewed at Qualia Fest in the New York Times article,
"Where Theory and Research Meet to Jam About the Mind" (December 9, 2012)

September 2017