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Professor Zhu Publishes Book on Philosophy

Our esteemed faculty member and Chair of the Arts and Sciences Division, Dr. Frank Zhu, is also an active author with wide-ranging interests. Last month Professor Zhu published Random Thoughts in Philosophy: 80 Questions and Answers, a very accessible compendium on philosophical history, concepts, and theories. We interviewed Professor Zhu to find out more about the way he sees his readers using his book, the ways in which his students informed his writing of the book, and the aspects of writing that he most enjoyed. See Dr. Zhu’s book listing here: https://tinyurl.com/y3xsswxq

Interviewer: Your book Random Thoughts in Philosophy has been described as a compendium on philosophical topics, thinkers, and principles. A reader may move through your book as they wish, selecting the topics that interest them. Even so, do you feel that there are links among the topics? Are there any series of topics that you would recommend someone read together?

Professor Zhu: This book, Random Thoughts in Philosophy, is a collection of 80 short essays that I wrote over the past several years. When I put them together, I didn’t follow any special sequence because each essay, with its own topic, stands on its own and can be read independently. However, if a reader is particularly interested in a certain topic or an individual thinker/philosopher, he or she can look it up in the index which provides information as to where the topic or thinker/philosopher is mentioned or discussed in detail.

Interviewer: As a seasoned professor at ASA College, did you consider your students’ perspectives while writing this book? If so, in what ways did you make this book for them?

Professor Zhu: I’ve been teaching in the humanities for over three decades, and I’ve enjoyed teaching at ASA College for the past 16 years. As a professor, when I conduct my lectures or choose course materials or engage students in discussions, I always look at everything from my students’ perspectives. In a student population like ours, nothing discourages them more than reading heavy books, memorizing abstract concepts, or listening to lectures in difficult language that only creates misunderstandings. One crucial part of being a good professor everywhere is to be able to make complicated concepts or processes easy to understand in clear, simple, and concise language and by using examples taken from the daily life. One of my other books, 222 Sociology Questions and Answers, has proven quite popular on Amazon, a major reason for which, I believe, is its simple and straightforward language and real life examples. In Random Thoughts on Philosophy, I used a casual and conversational style to make the book as readable as possible, and I used plenty of examples, too. I also used the question-and-answer format, which is believed to be the most effective way of doing philosophy and which has been a tradition at ASA College. I should mention that a large part of the content in both books has been used in my classes at ASA College, and I know students liked it.

Interviewer: Tell us about the process of writing this book. How long did it take? What was the most difficult part? What was the most rewarding part?

Professor Zhu: I take much delight in philosophical thinking, and I have a habit of writing down what I believe to be important ideas on my iPad. Some of those written notes were later developed into essays over the past several years. Many of these essays were posted on social medial for the purpose of sharing my thoughts with friends. The idea of publishing them in a book didn’t occur to me until five or six months ago. It took me months to revise, condense or expand, and oftentimes rewrite the essays and put them together as a book. The most difficult part was condensing some essays to make them more or less the same in length as others. To condense a piece of writing without losing important ideas is much more difficult than to expand it. The most rewarding part was to see my efforts coming to fruition—all the essays are now in a single book, and the book has finally come out. I hope readers will enjoy reading it.

See Dr. Zhu’s book listing here on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y3xsswxq

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