K. E. Brashier - Student Introduction

Martin Souza
Former student of K.E. Brashier
2006 Outstanding Baccalaureate Colleges Professor of the Year


Zi yue: "Xue er shi xi zhi, bu yi yue hu? You peng zi yuan fang lai, bu yi le hu? Ren bu zhi er bu yun, bu yi junzi hu?

The Master said: "To learn something and then practice it in its season—is this not a indeed a pleasure? Having friends come from distant places—is this not indeed a joy? Other people don't understand, yet one doesn't resent them—is this not indeed gentlemanly?

Thus begin the Analects of Confucius, and thus I would like to introduce my own master.

It has indeed been a pleasure to learn under his instruction, and practice that learning in season. My fellow students and I never cease to be amazed by the vast breadth of his learning, so gladly shared with us. Bit by bit, we begin to pick up some of that knowledge, but more importantly, he shows us how to examine knowledge consistently, and thus approach understanding. This he has never failed to do, whether in his hard-hitting Theory & Method course, or in a simple introductory class.

It has indeed been a joy to be introduced to 'friends from distant places' in his courses, be they the divining kings of the ancient Shang dynasty; the feudal lords and scholar-knights of the Spring & Autumn period; Confucius and the other authors of the classics of the hundred schools of philosophy during the time of the Warring States; the first emperor of Qin, and his intriguing ministers; the truly imperial court of the Han Dynasty, through four centuries of history; and all the gods and buddhas, ghosts and spirits, and immortals and heroes that have populated the Middle Kingdom and been remembered by men.

He is indeed gentlemanly, showing nothing but gladness despite being the only professor in the Reed College religion department specializing in anything other than western Abrahamic traditions. His courses are, I dare say, the most popular in the department despite this imbalance; often he splits one class into multiple sections to avoid oversized conferences. Yet this has never been known to be a detriment to the quality of his teaching; his preparation, guidance, and enthusiasm are never flagging. We often wonder at how much work he does for our sakes, in addition to the labors of his own scholarship. More than once he has said to me (in the most jovial manner), "I can sleep when I'm dead."

I, your unworthy servant, am honored to present the master, Ken Brashier.