January 8, 2008

P4c--Empathy prompts for Wednesday, January 9

Prompts for Wednesday -- Write at least 5 sentences for the empathy exercise, one per topic if you can.

Bubble gum


Lost dogs

Riding a horse

Living out of a suitcase

Souvenir shops


The thing I’ve lost from my youth

Visiting well off relatives

All these sculptures on campus

January 7, 2008

Philosophy for Children -- Welcome

Here is the course syllabus: Download file

Here are the prompts for tomorrows opening exercise: Download file

December 8, 2007

Greats -- Final Help -- Descartes(G)

Here is a chunk of my thesis that might help with sorting out Descartes' provisional ethics: Download file

November 14, 2007

Aristotle's Account of the Human Good- Response Paper 3 (A)

Here's the assignment sheet for the third response paper, due November 27: Download file

November 10, 2007

Simone Weil Assignment (G)

In Weil's Waiting for God, read the bio in the very back (first). Read the intro and letters for background. We will concentrate on "Forms of the Implicit Love of God."

In connection with that essay, look for answers to these questions:

1. What love of God is distinguished from "implicit love of God," for Weil? Why does she talk about some love of God as implicit?

2. What are the objects of the implicit love of God?

3. For Weil, what is the center of the love of neighbor?

4. How does Weil understand the idea of God's creation?

5. What is the meaning of the book title, Waiting for God? Why does it fit this book?

6. How is love of the order of the world similar to love of neighbor?

7. For Weil, love of religious practices and participation in them, does not imply religious belief. Why not?

8. Weil values and desires friendship, and yet she is very worried about it becoming impure, losing its ultimate, religious value as a way of loving God? How does she see that happening?

Changing the Bully (S)

Here's the last writing assignment: Download file

In Bly -- borrowed copies or copy on reserve in the library, read intro and pages 1- 47.

Make sure you are clear about these matters:

a. What does Bly think about he view that there are natural leaders and natural followers? What alternative idea does she offer?
b. What is the point of the story about the Airedale in the introduction to the book, and how does this story predict the overall attitude that Bly will take to serious social problems?
c. There are many different points one might get out of the essay “Death Games.? What is Bly’s main interest in this essay?
d. What does Bly mean by “partializing?? What good does this kind of conversation do for people?
e. What does Bly mean by “cultural abuse?? Why is the pastor’s comment, reported on page 33, an example of cultural abuse?
f. What does Bly mean by a “toady??

Ancient -- lectures, paper assignment, reading (A)

The due date for the next response paper is Novemer 27.

Review my notes on the "How Shall We Live?" section. Download file

Read through the beatitudes and think a bit about its relation to the questions about the best human life -- the dialogue with Aristotle -- which were subject of the last class. Think about where Jesus is positioned in this debate.

The Plotinus is very rich and very fine, and we have to skip it if we are to have any decent time for epistemology.

Please read the Laches selection in the section on Knowledge and be able to reconstruct the twists and turns of Socrates' questioning, the flaws of the various definitions presented. Here are some notes: Download file
Think about the questions that Annas asks about this dialogue.

October 31, 2007

Walden for Next Week (G)

Please read the chapters "Economy" and "Where I Lived and What I Lived for" in Thoreau's Walden. Read my notes first, and use them as a guide to the chapter. Expect a quiz on Tuesday. Notes: Download file

Here is the next response paper assignment: Download file

October 26, 2007

Kant Assignment for Tuesday (G)

Here is the handout from Thursday's Mill discussion: Download file

Here is Thursday's quiz, with the answers in bold: Download file

Begin your work with Kant by learning something about his life, at this link: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-development/

Here are notes on the Kant reading: Download file. Please print them out and follow them closely. They are intended to help you not hate Kant.
Take his stuff slow and easy, and don't get off the path.

There will be a quiz on Tuesday, addressing just those points emphasized in the notes.

Aristotle's Ethics and Stoic Ethics (A)

Here is the handout from the last class: Download file

For next week, please read pages 319 - 338 in Annas. Be ready for a quiz addressing these matters:

1. How does Aristotle organize the various kinds of advice about how to live? (sections 1,2)

2. What major opinions does Aristotle survey regarding the highest human good? (section 4) What arguments does he give against each candidate? (section 5)

3. What reasons does Aristotle give for taking happiness to be the human good? (section 7)

4. Why is it important to Aristotle to determine the human function? (7) What is his final view of the function of human beings, and how does he argue that that is the function of human beings?

5. How far does Aristotle go in agreeing with common views about the human good? How does he correct or modify those views? (8)

6. On what points do the Stoics disagree with Aristotle?

Philosophy for Children (S)

Here is the Jackson handout from the last class: Download file

Here is the Jackson quiz: Download file

In the next part of the course, we will think about some practical initiatives that respond to some of the challenges presented by reading in the first half of the course. We will ask how these initiative help with the problems and the basic tasks that our authors have identified.

The topic for next week is “Philosophy for Children.? Over the next three days, please go to the library reserve secion) and read the first 66 pages of Gareth Matthews’ Philosophy and the Young Child. (Note: these are very small pages, with lots of examples. There are several copies on reserve. ) Also read the selection from Matthews in the Cahn text, pages 477-487. Finally, look at my piece on Margaret Wise Brown at: http://blog.lib.umn.edu/shea0017/philosophy/mwbfinal.htm.

Be ready for a quiz addressing these issues:

1. What does Matthews think a philosophic problem or question is like? How is it different from other kinds of questions? (Chapter 1)
2. In chapters 1, 2 and 3 of his book, Matthews shows respect for the comments of young children by explaining the philosophical strategies, concepts and problems that they raise. Be ready to identify the children’s version of these notions: the problem of induction (pages 3, 4); sense-datum view (5); the logic of relative terms (13); asteismus (14,15); purposive accounts of things (19); maximizing (29); empty names (31).
3. In chapters 4, Matthews criticizes Piaget’s view of the intellectual development of the child. What is that view, as Matthews summarizes it, and at what points does Matthews disagree? What reasons does he give for disagreeing?
4. In his article in the Cahn anthology, Matthews criticizes Kohlerg’s view of the moral development of the child. What is that view, as Matthews summarizes it, and at what points does Matthews disagree? What reasons does he give for disagreeing.
5. In Philosophy and the Young Child, chapter 5, Matthews illustrates how simple children’s books raise philosophic problems. Be able to identify some of the problems raised in these books: The Bear that Wasn’t, Many Moons, Winnie the Pooh, and Frog and Toad Together.
6. What two basic intentions does Margaret Wise Brown state as the guiding principles of her writing? What is my general thesis about the philosophic usefulness of her work? How do The Important Book, The Noisy Books, and The Dead Bird illustrate her basic approach to writing? How is her work related to the philosophy of the Bank Street School?

October 19, 2007

How Should You Live? (A)

We will be working through the section, "How Should You Live?" over the next weeks. It would not be a bad to give the whole section a preliminary read-through. Our immediate object of concern for Thursday will be the early pages, 297-319. Please also check this space again on Monday. I am hoping to do some general remarks on where we are in the course, together with an intro to the next section.

I handed out a revised calendar on Thursday; here's the new calendar: Download file

I did a lecture surveying some points from the "Nature and Convention" section of Annas. I hope to fill these out in writing soon. In the meantime, here is the outline: Download file

John Stuart Mill (G)

Mill's book On Liberty is an accessible book that introduces you to the climate of Mill's mind: his talent for argument, his willingness to seek out and answer objections, his amazing thoroughness and care in discussion. It is comparatively easy to grasp his general point: a wide diversity of expressed opinion, a comparable diversity of lifestyle, contribute to the well-being of individuals and to the health of society. It is important however to go beyond this general grasp, to trace out the intricacies of his argument and to come to appreciate the richness and power of his mind. I have prepared some notes on the first two chapters of On Liberty, to help you get access to this work. Please study these notes over the break: Download file

There's a revised course calendar: Download file

For Thursday, please read in the Mill anthology: the first two chapters of Utilitarianism, from 233-260. Please check the blog again on Monday. I hope to have some notes ready then to guide our discussion of this material. Also please read the sections on Mill's life, on utilitarianism and on Mill's social and political philosophy in the Mill article from the Stanford Encyclopedia. Here is the address: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mill/

School and Society Assignment for Thursday after Reading Days (S)

On Thursday, October 18, we finished watching Delafield and then read together the essay "Becoming Native to Our Places," from Wes Jackson's book. It is very important that everyone review and study and try to make sense of this chapter, which is the educational culmination of Jackson's argument. It needs multiple readings and discussion, and, above all, connection to your own experience and to what you know about the loss of cultural information in your own contexts. Jackson packs a great many ideas into a very small space, and one will miss most of what he has to say if one reads him casually or quickly. He makes great demands, and he has an incredible breadth of vision. He is also sometimes not very charitable to his reader: he makes big jumps and leaves out the connecting material. You have to think along with him. Over the break, I will try to write something to make this book more accessible. I am convinced that it is an important contribution to our discussion.

I have revised the calendar. Here is the new version: Download file

At class on Thursday, each person was given a book or a movie to look at over the break. The assignment is to introduce this item to the class next Thursday by discussing its relevance to themes developed in this course so far and to the general topic: "School and Society." You will each have about five minutes; please do a couple of paragraphs as the basis of your discussion and hand those in at the end of class. Those who were not in class on Thursday will have a chance to select an item and report on the following Tuesday.

Some notes on this project:

1. Books and movies are often attempts to teach, and that is one way to understand how they relate to the course. One might think of Bird by Bird and The Important Book primarily in this connection, and consider the ways that they carry forward educational projects suggested or endorsed by Dewey or Freire or Horton.

2. Books and movies sometimes portray aspects of current educational practice and ideology in a critical way. One might connect such portrayals to criticisms we have encountered. The Child Buyer is an example of this kind of portrait.

3. Books and movies portray teaching or education in the broad sense we have come to understand after reading The Higher Power of Lucky. We see people trying to build attitudes and capacities in other human beings, to open up -- or close down -- possibilities for them. One might think particularly of A Thousand Clowns in this connection.

4. Some books make straightforward recommendations about teaching, related in interesting and complex ways to the suggestions we have encountered so far. Philosophy and the Young Child is an example of this kind of discussion.

5. Some works of art portray a social fact that is in need of educational attention: either ideals to be cultivated or human dead ends, warnings about the products of bad education. One might look at Remains of the Day with this idea in mind.

6. Some works of art say something about the point or task of human life. Any such work sets a challenge before the educator: to craft experiences that help people to accomplish the task that life presents them. This might be a helpful starting point for looking at Defending Your Life, for example.

The works you have selected are rich, and many of them can be approached from several different perspectives. Your introduction should help others in the class decide whether they want to check out your book or movie, out of general interest, or as a way to think about the material we have been discussing.

October 12, 2007

Wes Jackson for Tuesday (S))

Please read the introductory material and the first 60 pages of Jackson's Becoming Native to this Place.