Schedule

All blogs are due before your class meets, on the day assigned.



Week 1

Mon/Tues

Think of an example of injustice that you have personally encountered or witnessed. It might be a profound injustice or just the first time you noticed the world was unfair.


Weds/Thurs:

  • Sign up with WordPress.com (FREE) and bring your blog address to the next class.
  • Follow me by email on the course website: thinkingbeings.wordpress.com.


Week 2 

Tues/Weds:

Introductions 

  • Set up your free e-portfolio at wordpress.com according to the guidelines on the grading page.
  • See blog examples on the “grading” page.
  • Complete your ‘about me’ page. Be sure to put your name on this page. If you want to use a pseudonym, let me know. Write a long introduction (upbringing, gifts, struggles, breakthroughs).

Thurs:

Complete introductions.



Philosophical Argumentation


Week 3

Monday (Sept. 9)

Introductions

Tues/Wednesday (Sept. 10/11)

Read: Philosophical Terms and Methods & Arguments

Blog Prompt 1: If, and only if, you did the in-class justice exercise you may write it up as a blog. Just put your argument in standard form, with your conclusion saying something about justice. Then tell your own story and explain how it connects to the argument.

Thursday (Sept. 12)

Complete blog set-up



Week 4

Mon/Tues (Sept. 16/17)

Read: Philosophical Terms and Methods & Arguments

Blog Prompt 2: (This particular blog will not be 300 words or follow the general checklist)

  1. Give your own, original example of a valid argument with a false conclusion.
  2. Give your own, original example of a sound argument.
  3. Give your own, original example of an inductive argument that is cogent.
  4. Give your own, original example of a weak inductive argument
  5. Give your own, original example of a persuasive argument.

Weds/Thurs (Sept. 18/19)

Read: “Fallacy Database

Blog Prompt 3: ((This particular blog will not be 300 words or follow the general checklist)

Give your own, original examples for the following ten fallacies, plus two additional fallacies of your own choice (for a total of 12): 1) Begging the Question 2) Ad Hominem 3) Equivocation 4) Slippery Slope 5) Straw Man 6) Tu Quoque 7) Non-sequitur 8) False Dichotomy 9) Argument from ignorance 10) Red Herring



Week 5

Mon/Tues  (Sept. 23/24)

REQUIRED Blog: William Clifford, “The Ethics of Belief, Section I: The Duty of Inquiry”

Blog Prompt :

Reconstruct one of his arguments (not the examples) in standard form. Then evaluate that argument for soundness and validity. What practical significance does Clifford’s thesis have? Do you see any fallacies in Clifford’s reasoning?


Weds/Thurs (Sept. 25/26)

James, “The Will To Believe” (Excerpts)

Blog Prompt : Explain the characteristics of a belief that is live, forced, and momentous. Give examples for each. What kind of belief fits all three? Has James found an exception to Clifford’s standard for belief? Do you agree more with Clifford or James?


Art and Reality



Week 6

Mon/Tues (Sept 30/Oct 1)

Plato, Allegory of the Cave

Blog Prompt 4:

Is there a parallel between the status of the prisoners in Plato’s cave and the spectators in a cinema? In other words, how are we deceived by movies and other media? Do we mistake fiction for reality? Is it possible that this physical world isn’t reality?


Weds/Thurs (Oct 2/3)

Plato, The Republic: Book X(stop at the line: Yes, he said, I quite agree with you.)

Blog Prompt 5:

What is the difference between “beds in the world” and “the idea of a bed?” Where does “art” fit into his hierarchical scheme of reality? Plato criticizes art for being “deceptive.” How does art deceive us, according to Plato? Do you agree with this criticism?



Week 7

Oct. 7-10

Film Screening 

Blog Prompt 6 (Due after the movie)

How does Existenz, the film, fit into Plato’s hierarchical scheme of reality? How does the game, Trancendenz fit? (Due prior to midterm review)



Week 8 

  • Mon/Tues (Oct 14/15)Aristotle’s Poetics

    Blog Prompt 9:

    What kinds of imitation does Aristotle identify in poetry and tragedy? Does Aristotle convey a positive sense of the role of imitation in art? Do you think that his understanding of art in terms of imitation provide a useful way to understand what art is?


    Weds/Thurs (Oct 16/17)

    Tolstoy “What Is Art?”

    Blog Prompt 11:

    Tolstoy uses the test of infectiousness, not only as a descriptive measure for what should count as art, but also as a standard for good art (#28-32). What does he mean by this standard? How does he suggest we apply this test to evaluate art? Is this a useful proposal for evaluating the quality of art? If you disagree with this proposal, how would you challenge it?



Week 9

Midterm Review Week (October 21-24)

  • Scheduled one on one interviews with prof. (no classes).
    • By your meeting with me, you should have 4 blogs, including Clifford. Ideally you will also have 6 comments and some glossary definitions. Your total should be around 2400 words (depending on the grade you desire).


Week 10

Mon/Tues (Oct. 28/29)

Blog Prompt 12:

Show an example of something you consider to be art. It can be any kind of art. Provide links or images as needed. Explain whether or not your example matches Tolstoy’s definition and whether or not you agree with his view of art. Apply each of the three conditions for infectiousness to your chosen work of art. As always, choose at least one quote from the text that applies to your topic.

If you choose to do this blog you must also present it in class.


Weds/Thurs (Oct. 30-31) 

Presentations continued…



Mind, Body, Identity


Week 11

Mon/Tues (Nov. 4/5) 

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

Read Meditation I: Of the things which may be brought into the sphere of the doubtful, pages 6-8

Blog Prompt 13:

What is the process Descartes uses in his search for knowledge? Why doesn’t he stop after the argument that the senses cannot be trusted? How does each stage push his skepticism even further? What does he know by the end of meditation 1?


Weds/Thurs (Nov. 6/7)

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy

Read Meditation II. Of the Nature of the Human Mind; and that it is more easily known that the Body, pages 8-12

and: Correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth

  • read pp. 1-4, first para. on 5.

Blog Prompt 14:

  • What is the “cogito” and how does it imply that the mind is separate from the body?
  • What does Descartes demonstrate with the wax example? How does it fit into his main argument for dualism?
  • What problem does Princess Elisabeth ask Descartes to explain? Does he respond to her objections to your satisfaction?

Tues/Weds (Nov. 12/13)

Hume, Of Personal Identity

Blog Prompt 15:

Hume believes that the self is an illusion or a fiction. What is his argument? Do you find it convincing? Why or why not?


  • At this point in the semester, you should have a minimum of six blogs and ten comments to be considered passing. Ideally, you would also have fourteen glossary words defined and a total word count of at least 2700.


Week 13

(Nov.18-21)

(Blog prompts for this week will be due by Saturday 11/23)

Blog Prompt 16:

  • Leonard relies upon scribbled notes to connect him to his past. He says that eyewitness testimony is worthless: “Memory can change the shape of a room…” Is he right? Do you think our memories are more reliable than his notes? Hume says identity is just a habit we have. Do you think Hume would see Leonard’s condition as any different from our own?

Blog Prompt 17:

  • Do you agree with Leonard’s statement that we all need mirrors to remind us who we are? In the movie the mirrors were his notes, the photographs, and tattoos. What has he become by relying upon them? What would you become without your own mirrors? How does a view of self that relies upon mirrors fit with Hume’s theory?


Week 14

November 25-27

MacIntyre: The Storytelling Animal

Blog Prompt 18:

Choose a passage from the McIntyre reading that describes a particular aspect of persons as the subject of a narrative. Quote the passage, explain it, and tell a specific, personal, life experience that illustrates its significance with respect to identity (your identity).



Freedom and The Meaning of Life



Week 15

Mon/Tues (Dec. 2/3)

Causal Determinism

Blog Prompt 19:

What is causal determinism? Would you feel any differently about your life in general—and your actions, thoughts, and feelings, in particular—if determinism were true? Why or why not?



Weds/Thurs (Dec. 4/5)

David Hume, “The Obviousness of the Truth of Determinism”

Blog Prompt 20:

David Hume argues that we already know human behavior is determined. Discuss one of his arguments or examples, then give your own examples. Is he correct? Do you think one of the consequences of the argument against free will is that we cannot be held responsible for our actions?



Week 16

Mon/Tues (Dec. 9/10)

 Frankfurt, Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person

Blog Prompt 21:

What does it mean to be a person, according to Frankfurt? Explain the order of desires, and how they are related to freedom of will.

Mon/Tues (Dec. 11/12)

Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism

Blog Prompt 22:

What are anguish and Despair in existentialism? How does an individual marriage commit humanity to monogamy?


  • This week we will be scheduling individual Final Reviews to take place next week. This is not required, but highly recommended.


Finals Reviews:

Grading Rubric (PDF)

  • If your blog is complete by the final review appointment, you and I can come to an agreement on a final grade then.