A LIFE IN PHILOSOPHY
Professor! Landscape Designer!
Novelist! Jewish Scholar!
How does one woman do all that?
The key, Susan Pashman claims, is philosophy.
“I am first and foremost a philosopher,” she explains. “Aristotle defined philosophy as the study of ‘Being as such.’ But that’s the study of . . . everything!
“For me, Philosophy is an approach, a method that can be applied to any intellectual field. It’s more about the questions you ask than the answers you get.”
Pashman has brought her philosophical approach to some surprising fields. Having discovered an interest in Judaism in her 50’s, she did more than light Sabbath candles. Ever inquisitive, she wanted to know why Jews are commanded to keep the Sabbath. Relentlessly curious, she began interrogating old philosopher friends—Plato, Spinoza, Nietzsche. The result is her incandescent new book, A Journey to a Temple in Time: A Philosopher’s Quest for the Sabbath.
Applying her philosophic approach to the women’s movement early in her career, while teaching philosophy at Adelphi University, Pashman was awarded grants to run humanities programs on “Women in the Suburbs,” arranging lectures and workshops in 70 different towns.
She developed a course in Bio-ethics that she taught in collaboration with the School of Nursing at Adelphi, raising young nurses’ awareness of ethical problems in medical care.
At Brooklyn Law School, she was drawn to Constitutional Law for all the philosophical issues it involved, then worked on Wall Street as an attorney for ten years.
With her two sons off to college, she moved to the historic whaling village of Sag Harbor and returned to philosophy, teaching courses for adults on the East End of Long Island. She also authored a philosophical novel, The Speed of Light about the evanescence of life and the undefinability of happiness. Her second novel, Upper West Side Story, dealt with the more concrete political issue of race as it affects our children.
Ever a lover and promoter of wisdom, Pashman offered summer visitors to the Hamptons an opportunity to use vacation time for intellectual growth. She developed SUMMERFEST, an adult education program of 35 intriguing new courses each summer for 18 years.
After designing and building a home in Sag Harbor, Pashman wanted to learn about Landscaping. She enrolled in Harvard’s Landscape Institute, believing she was finally abandoning her lifelong “head trip” to work with her hands. But, as so often happens in her life, Landscape became yet another subject for philosophical reflection. She devised a new dimension of philosophic inquiry: Landscape Aesthetics, which she later taught at Harvard and at the Boston Architectural College.
At The Inchbald School of Design in London she earned an M.A. in Landscape Design, and then entered the Philosophy Department at Stony Brook University to earn a PhD with a dissertation entitled, The Kinesthetic Basis of Landscape Art. She is now busy revising this work for general publication.
Check out Susan Pashman’s scholarly articles in philosophy journals:
Dancing With Damasio: Complementary Aspects of Kinesthesia, Complementary Approaches to Dance, The Journal of Aesthetic Education Vol 51, No. 4, Winter 2017. Click here.
Feeling Is Movement: Damasio’s Neural Model of Dance Expression, Dance Research, Vol. XXXV, Number 2, Winter 2017. Click here.
When the Music Moves You: Revisiting the Classics In The Company of Neuroscience. Journal of Music and Dance, Autumn, 2014. Click here.