Mark A. McDonald
The questions raised through undergraduate studies, in psychology and philosophy, led me to the study of political philosophy. Political philosophy is the pursuit of knowledge regarding the most fundamental and comprehensive questions of the nature of man, the best way of life, and the best political order. As founded by the Socratic philosophers, the study looks for the truth of the nature of man- both as we are and as we ought be- and so is notably different from the sort of psychology and social science prevalent in the universities of the past century. We approach the ancient philosophers and the great books with perennial rather than merely historical interest, as sources of wisdom vital to the question of how we should live. We read the modern thinkers in light of permanent questions, rather than as though the thought of man on man had only recently begun. The study of the soul or man is not approached as a separate branch of philosophy, but is held to be the gateway or key to the understanding of all things. In education as pursued by my teachers, the concern with virtue and the common good are cultivated, and the quest for wisdom brought to life.
Writings of this period include a long work on the question of the metaphysical foundation of the Jungian archetypes, a middle length work on Romeo and Juliet with The Tempest, a shorter essay on the Biblical Proverbs, and an unfinished work on the letter of Paul to the Romans. The study of man had turned into the careful reading of the great books left by the greatest minds. It had become impossible, in the very pursuit of the knowledge of the psyche, to continue the study of anything academically identifiable as psychology. The Bible, the Socratic political philosophers and Shakespeare had become more important than Jung, Freud and every other twentieth century thinker.
I began study at Grand Valley State with the intention of a career in clinical psychology. This would have allowed for the continuous study of the soul, both in fact and in theory, with the opportunity for the satisfying work of helping people. Under the guidance of James Blight, we studied the history of the Freudian revolution, evolutionary biology, and became acquainted with the writings of Carl Jung. When Mr. Blight left Grand Valley for a fellowship at Harvard, I began to study under Irving Wasserman, and added a philosophy major to my continuing studies in psychology. To this day, I find my Darwinian studies quite valuable in understanding the things of the body, and consider Jung most helpful in understanding certain things regarding philosophy and the images produced by the soul based on the knowledge within.
Under professor Wasserman, we studied original texts of great books, beginning with Plato. In his Ancient Philosophy course, we attempted to learn how to read a dialogue, working with Euthyphro, Apology and Meno. The clarity and profundity of Plato revealed in this course, in contrast with the lower and narrower study of man found in modern and academic psychology, permanently altered and set the direction of my future education. The following term, I continued with professor Wasserman to study Plato’s Republic and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in a class called Political Philosophy. The class focused on the difference between the ancient and modern thinkers (the moderns here represented by Rousseau and Descartes) on the fundamental questions of political theory. I was especially impressed with the question of natural right and the Socratic identification of virtue, knowledge and the health of the soul. The following year, I began with my friends to attend the Plato classes again, outside of our regular coursework, which included a class on Rousseau. Philosophy had become a life above our academic work. In a course called Human Nature, with Theodore Young, we read Plato’s Phaedo. The following year, I enrolled for another course with professor Wasserman, the Introduction to Philosophy, reading the Apology, Republic and Descartes. I also read Plato’s Theatetus with Dewey Hoitenga (with whom I was to study the philosophy of Religion one year later). In the second semester, while taking a course on Rousseau with professor Wasserman, I began with my friends to attend the Plato classes again, outside of our regular coursework. We read Shakespeare’s Politics by Alan Bloom and Harry Jaffa, and I took a Shakespeare class in the English department with Loretta Wasserman, and wrote on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In two successive summer independent studies, I continued work on the thought of Carl Jung, completed a first reading of the Old and New Testaments, and began a study of the nature of love. The Biblical studies were done under the direction of Steven Rowe, with whom I also studied religious experience, ethics, and William James. In two successive summer independent studies, I continued work on the thought of Carl Jung, attempted a reading of the Old and New Testaments, and began a study of the nature of love. Writings of this period include a long work on the question of the metaphysical foundation of the Jungian archetypes, a middle length work on Romeo and Juliet with The Tempest, a shorter essay on the Biblical Proverbs, and an unfinished work on the letter of Paul to the Romans.
The study of political philosophy led me to the politics department at the University of Dallas. The University of Dallas is a small Catholic liberal arts college dedicated to the recovery of the ancient Greek and Biblical roots of Western thought and civilization. Because of their core curriculum and dedication to academic excellence, this school is frequently honored as being among the best Catholic and liberal arts colleges in the nation. There, the graduate Institute of Philosophic Studies focuses on a sustained dialogue or conversation with the great works of the Western intellectual tradition, believing that “the formation of liberal arts teachers, and, indeed, the renewal of civilization itself, requires an awareness of the deepest levels of reflection available to us in the tradition.”
The politics department at the University of Dallas was then nearly unique in providing a place for the study of political philosophy. Our study of politics spans from the American founding to Plato, pursuing political science in the ancient sense of the “comprehensive science of the human things.” One is reminded of the opening book of Plato’s Laws, in which the soul or man is the principle by which regimes are intelligible, and politics is defined as the care of the soul. The central books in our study are Plato’s Republic and the Politics and Ethics of Aristotle. Other works are studied very much in light of these. Modern political thought appears as a fundamental difficulty beginning with Machiavelli. Leo Paul de Alvarez, with whom I had many courses, is one of the leading translators of and commentators on Machiavelli. While in courses at the University of Dallas, I collected voluminous class notes and wrote over one thousand pages. An example is the writing of over one hundred pages on Aristotle’s Ethics over a one-year period. The benefit of this excess is in making each study a permanent part of thought, accessible for the remainder of life, and a resource for teaching.
Shakespeare is studied regularly in the politics department at U. D., as a theoretical response to the difficulty of modernity, as well as for the cultivation of character and imagination so badly needed in the modern world, and in modern education. In the Wilmore Kendall program of study, the Politics major was joined to a literature minor because of the importance of poetry and the imagination to the understanding and cultivation of the souls of human beings. The literature minor allowed for the reading of Homer, Greek tragedy, and more Shakespeare. Two other professors there, John Alvis and Thomas G. West, have edited the book Shakespeare as Political Thinker. (Dr. West is also the author of the best translation currently available of Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology and Crito). The political or philosophic reading of Shakespeare has opened a new chapter in the commentary on this greatest of all English writers. With the hope of furthering a line of thought being particularly advanced at the close of the last century, I chose to write a dissertation on Shakespeare’s King Lear as a study of the uncovering of nature at the beginning of philosophy and the change in the West from the Medieval to the modern age. The dissertation was accepted for publication as a book by Rowman and Littlefield, and became available in April of 2004 as Shakespeare’s King Lear with The Tempest: the Discovery of Nature and the Recovery of Classical Natural Right. It is in over one hundred libraries, and selling well for a book of that sort.
Having completed the Doctoral degree, I began teaching in the fall of 1997 at St. Mary’s College of Orchard Lake. The courses at St. Mary’s went very well. In Ancient and Medieval philosophy, we read Plato’s Republic, and fundamental selections from the great medieval works. In the spring, I was then able to continue with Modern Philosophy, focusing again on fundamental works- here Machiavelli and Rousseau-amid an overview of the entire course of modern thought. I turned down an invitation to teach adjunct philosophy courses there in the fall of 1999 for financial and other reasons, before the college itself came to be administered by Madonna University. Madonna has no politics department, and like almost all Michigan colleges, does not cultivate political philosophy. I began, in the fall of 1998, to teach individual sections of the American Government course at Oakland Community College, and have continued taking occasional sections of this course. I also began to work for an exceptional contractor / carpenter, and to teach weekend philosophy courses at my home, in what we- a group of four or five readers- came to call the Salem Academy. The best classes I have done may be those at the Salem Academy. These courses went especially well when held at my home in Salem Township, with old friends and one student from my American Government course at the community college. A cornucopia table of baked goods and fruit would be set out. One student from the community college, Chaz Dila, went on to study politics at the University of Dallas. Since leaving Salem Township, the course has lacked a sufficient place. One course at the local library began, but stopped after three meetings. Another course almost began in fall of 2005, but lacked a place within the range of the students.
Recently, in 2007, I published a sixty-page essay on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This past Fall, I taught my fourteenth course of American Government at the community college. I have always been invited back to teach as an adjunct instructor, and in each case stopped due to lack of funding, as is the well known difficulty regarding non-union faculty in American colleges. Presently, I am working on another free Plato course, offered at a local Coney Island Restaurant, editing a twenty page paper on Jefferson and the meaning of the Declaration, and a work on music, intended to be published for profit. I have been attempting to recover my ability to translate Greek, and work on many other studies. I have written a short paper of amateur historical archeology, on a mystery in local history regarding a square black funeral or altar stone belonging to the Algonquin inhabitants of the Rouge River system. Copies are increasingly requested, and so this may be published as a pamphlet through our local historical society.
Human Resources Department
George A. Bee Administration Center
2480 Opdyke Road
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-2266
Dear Sir or Madam:
Thank You for considering my application for the position of political science instructor at the Auburn Hills Campus of Oakland Community college. I have taught for some time as an adjunct faculty member at the Orchard Ridge Campus. I also have experience teaching philosophy as an adjunct at St. Mary’s College in Orchard Lake, and occasionally offer free classes on Plato and Shakespeare in my community. My degree is from the University of Dallas, a small Catholic liberal arts college in Irving Texas. The University of Dallas is often recognized as among the best Catholic and liberal arts colleges in the nation, especially for their politics program, which has a number of well-known authors among its faculty. American politics is studied there within the whole tradition of political theory. This context brings a solidity and gravity to the most fundamental and memorable points of American politics. Access to the tradition of political thought also allows for the direction of the serious student toward the causes or reasons for the various features of our government in the political theory studied by the founders of our nation. My students are responsible for gaining an acquaintance with the things that every educated citizen should know, with the opportunity to continue learning in a number of areas for the rest of their lives. The students are then potentially prepared either for university study, for positions in government, and for being thoughtful citizens.
I have enclosed a copy of my most recent Syllabus, as well as a brief statement describing my class at the Orchard Ridge Campus. Paul Winston has seen student evaluations, and known something of the success of my courses. One successful student commented “Now I have everything I need” to find his way around American politics.
Thank you for your consideration,
Mark A. McDonald
Mark A. McDonald
40721 Crabtree Lane
Plymouth, Michigan 48170
Date of Birth: October 9, 1960
Marital Status: Single
University of Dallas, Ph. D. Politics, 1997
1845 E. Northgate Drive M.A. Politics, 1988
Irving, Texas 75061
Grand Valley State University, B.S. Psychology and Philosophy
1 Campus Drive (Double Major), 1983.
Allendale, Michigan, 49401
Adjunct Faculty Member Supervisor: Paul Winston
Oakland Community College 248-522-3779
2480 Opdyke Rd.
Bloomfield Hills Michigan 48304-2266
Summer 2005 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Fall 2003 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Fall 2002 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Winter 2002 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Fall 2001 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Spring 2001 Political Science 151 American Government 2 sections
Summer 1999 Political Science 151 American Government 1 section
Fall 1998 Political Science 151 American Government 2 sections
Adjunct Assistant Professor Dean: Ron Muller 248-363-0309
St. Mary’s College Dean: Dennis Castillo 716-652-8900
3535 Indian Trail Dean’s office 248-683-0314
Orchard Lake, Michigan 48324
Spring 1999 Philosophy of the Person
Philosophy of Science
Fall, 1998 Introduction to Philosophy
Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Spring 1998 Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Fall 1997 Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
Salem Academy A free reading and discussion group
Fall 1999 Plato: Introductory Dialogues
Spring 2000 Shakespeare: Five Plays
Summer 2000 Plato: Republic
Fall 2001 The Bible: Genesis, Job, Daniel, John, Revelation
Fall 2002 Class on Reading Shakespeare
Spring 2003 Plato: Introduction to Political Philosophy
Three Employment References
Elise Emerick (senior) X
Brent McDonald- McDonald Painting
Oakland Community College
27055 Orchard Lake Rd
Farmington Hills, Michigan 48334