Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fallacies Webcast, With Someone You May Know (All)

Two weeks ago, I encouraged you all to attend an event on Fallacies in the real world, presented by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, at Politics and Prose Book store: "Aristotle and an Aardvark Go To Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes." (Consider doing a book review for extra credit, see syllabus and me for further reference.)

Well, that webcast was filmed and televised on C-SPAN this past weekend. As such, I have posted the link "Here" that can prove informative: (1) It can help you all think through fallacies in new and practical ways, in preparation for the coming Midterm Learning Assessment and (2) There is chubby guy at the end of the video, that many of us may recognize, who is asking a question about fallacies that speaks to the lived-limits of informal-logic.

*Extra Credit: For the next class, if any students can turn in a text that restates the question posed by the chubby guy (me, hint hint) and assess the author/s' response determining if there were any fallacies committed, or any limitations, extra credit points will be earned.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For Week Five (BSU: 1124, 1125; PGCC: 2205)

Given that many of us did not have class on Friday, 2.23.08, I want you all to take note of the following in preparation for Week Five:

1. Be responsible for the prior post (Thursday, February 21, 2008; 11:35am) for class on Monday.

2. For class on Monday, read the next 20 pages in Obenga's text, 67 - 87. Focus on each part of the text (structure or subheading). Be able to understand the key "thesis" of each part (its essential point/s) and be able to SAC (see syllabus) each part.

3. For class on Friday, see the first 3o:40 "minutes" of Wesley Snipes 1997 documentary on the late Pan-Africanist and Historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke: "A Great and Mighty Walk." Naturally, you are encouraged to view the documentary in its entirety (it covers "the story" of John Henrik Clarke's life and Africana - Africa and her Diaspora - history). But, for the purposes of this week, in preparation for your "Midterm," I want you all to take a critical note of his (political) interpretation of History, focused on the relationship between Greece and Nile Valley Civilization (culminating in Egypt).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Updates, PGCC: 2215, 6 - 9 pm

Note: The following post is only applicable to my PGCC class, "2215" (M, 6-9pm) for this coming Monday, 2.25.08. Further, this post may appear like allot of work, because it is. Recall that we have missed two weeks of class due to holidays.

For class this coming Monday, take note of the following:

1. Print the citation style manual for the course (see prior post), bring to class and be ready to take a Learning Assessment (LA) on how to make citations for our class.

2. Be ready to take a comprehensive LA on all 13 fallacies that we were exposed to in class (see prior post for further reference).

3. Be ready to turn in the following: Critique #3, Speech Analysis or Daily Show/Colbert Report Analysis (see prior post); assignment on 13 critiques in the world (see prior post... again, you can turn this in individually or as a Learning Community); Learning Community, or individual, Learning Assessment on ALL 13 fallacies.

4. Come to class having read the following for Week 3: the text on John Stewart (class handout); the link to the text, written by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, “Introduction: Who Are We?” (see prior post).

5. Come to class having read the following for this week, Week 4 (see syllabus): the text by Stephen Law (class handout, beneath the text "What is Philosophy") on "The History of Philosophy;" and Obenga's text (class handout), 51 - 66. For this week, you will not be writing a critique. Though, expect a Learning Assessment on the assigned readings.

Note: Any questions, be sure to reach out to me BEFORE class.

Updates: LA, Obenga, Extra Credit (BSU: 1124, 1125; PGCC: 2205)

For class this coming Friday, 2.22.08, take note of the following:

1. There will be a Learning Assessment (LA) on Law's text this Friday, in place of a critique. Be sure to know how the text is structured, the key features of each philosophical era, how each era relates to MEAL (see syllabus), what the SAC method is all about (see syllabus), and what "story" Law is trying to tell.
- For those that want to earn extra credit points (see syllabus) write a critique on Law's text for this week. It can be useful insofar as it can help you prepare for Friday's LA.

2. On this Friday's reading for Obenga, read pages 51 - 66. Upon reading said pages, you will need to know how his text is structured for class (which is about what points he is trying to prove, i.e. the "Etymology of the Word Philosophy," "Definition of the Sage...," "Egypt Contributed to the Birth of Greek Philosophy").
- To really understand Obenga's text, read the "Conclusion" (100 - 101). His primary intent and argument is made explicitly clear.
- You do not have to read the following texts for Friday. However, to facilitate your understanding of Obenga's text, in preparation for your "Midterm," take heed of the following links: on the limits of "philosophical reasoning" and the value of explaining certain moral truths through story and ritual, see “The Secrets of Obama’s Success and Why He’ll Keep Winning – He Listens to George Lakoff” (Pensito Review, February 20, 2008) http://www.pensitoreview.com/2008/02/20/the-secret-of-obamas-success-and-why-hell-keep-winning-%e2%80%94-he-listens-to-george-lakoff/ (accessed February 21, 2008); and see the text Thinking Points (Rockridge Institute, 2007) http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/thinkingpoints/ (accessed February 21, 2008). In the latter text, focus on Ch. 1 for a critique on "philosophical reasoning;" Ch. 3 for how the brain works, concerning reasoning and emotion; and Ch. 8 on the contrast between "philosophical reasoning" vs. "narrative reasoning," in action.

3. For extra credit this Friday, come to class with a clear understanding of what fallacies are all about.
- The classroom link will not be posted, as we discussed. (It was intended to be a closed-notebook and "pop" extra credit opportunity.) Instead, you will have the opportunity to earn extra credit points in class tomorrow-- to the degree that you can demonstrate your understanding of fallacies. Also, start studying for the Midterm LA on all that we have experienced to date.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Event this Friday!

On Friday, February 15, 7 p.m., Thomas Cathcart and Allison Hampton will be presenting their text on “Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington" (http://www.aristotleandanaardvark.com/index.php) at Politics and Prose bookstore, http://www.politics-prose.com/index.html, (5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, 202-364-1919).

Going to see this presentation can prove useful on a few levels: (1) it coincides with the theme of the week, on fallacies, and it can be an opportunity for you all to see "fallacies-in-the-world;" (2) it can serve as a five-point extra credit opportunity (see syllabus for further reference); and (3) you might just simply enjoy the event and the opportunity to talk about philosophy with your peers.

Note: for those that are thinking about attending, be sure to view the link to the text above so that you can have a general idea of the text being presented; and if you can, reach out to me, in class or via this blog, and let me know if you plan on attending.

Moreover, to get a flavor of this "dynamic duo" check out the following webcast, where they talk about their former bestselling book on philosophy and humor "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar" and preview their current text, "Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington":

Updates: For Friday 2.15.08 (BSU: 1124, 1125; PGCC: 2205)

Concerning class for this coming Friday (2.15.08), I want to remind you all of what the expectations are:

1. Come to class having read the text on fallacies in the world as mediated by "The Daily Show." (Class handout.)

2. Come to class having read George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s chapter, “Introduction: Who Are We?" (The link is in a prior blog.)

3. Come to class with Week Three's Critique (be sure to integrate appropriate citations this week), or one of the Substitution options. (Speech analysis; or an analysis of "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report"-- see prior post.)

4. Come to class ready to turn in the following projects: (a) at least five copies of your group's Learning Assessment on all of the 13 fallacies posted in a previous blog, ready to administer your Learning Assessment to your fellow Learning Community peers and (b) a group or individual text on fallacies (Monday's assignment on defining all 13 and finding-posting real world examples).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Week Three Critique Substitution (All)

For those students that are interested in doing the alternative assignment, in the place of Week Three's critique, the following resources can prove useful.

Option One:

Analyze a given political speech and identify at least six fallacies. In this respect, you are expected to turn in a document that:

1. Briefly summarizes what you are going to do;

2. A proper citation of the speech;

3. Alongside the following:(a) a list of the passages you are quoting, (b) an identification of the fallacy said passage represents and (c)your argument for why said passage is the fallacy that you have listed.

Further, here are links to representative speeches that can be assessed:

1. A webcast and text of Zell Miller's "controversial," "2004 Republican National Convention Address" (American Rhetoric, 2004) http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/convention2004/zellmiller2004rnc.htm (accessed February 13, 2008).

2. George W. Bush's second inaugural address, "President Sworn-In to Second Term" (The White House, January 20, 2005) http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050120-1.html (accessed February 13, 2008).

3. And Stephen Colbert (from "The Colbert Report")"controversial" speech, "Colbert Roasts President Bush - 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner" (Google Video, C-SPAN, April29, 2006) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-869183917758574879&q=stephen+colbert&total=2704&start=0&num=10&so=4&type=search&plindex=0 (accessed February 13, 2008). Remember, Stephen Colbert is a satirist and is "trying" to be funny, though, at the same time he makes allot of fallacious claims.

Option Two:

You can analyze at least two episodes from "The Daily Show" (http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml) or "The Colbert Report" (http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/videos/most_recent/index.jhtml) and identify at least three fallacies in both episodes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Daily Show Links (All)

Per our class discussion today, I want to encourage you all to view the following links to see John Stewart of "The Daily Show" in action. Moreover, I want to encourage you all to see the following links (no more than 6min each) before you read the text on fallacies and "The Daily Show" to give you all some useful context:

1. See "Chris Matthews" (The Daily Show, October 2, 2007) http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=104548&title=chris-matthews&tag=generic_tag_chris_matthews&itemId=107683
(accessed February 11, 2008).

2. See "Jonah Goldberg" (The Daily Show, January 16, 2008) http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=147884&title=jonah-goldberg (accessed February 11, 2008).

Note: To facilitate your learning, try to identify the fallacies that are being made and/or the reason why John Stewart is saying that a given claim that is being made (either by Chris Matthews or Jonah Goldberg) is fallacious.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Some Useful News Links

To put yourselves in positions to be more aware and conscious citizens, at the same time being able to contribute something to our classroom news updates, consider briefly reviewing the following news links:

1. For a daily report on world news, visit BBC News for further reference, http://news.bbc.co.uk/.

2. For a daily report on world news, see one of the most acclaimed resources in the Middle East, Aljazeera.net, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/55ABE840-AC30-41D2-BDC9-06BBE2A36665.htm.

3. For what many call the U.S.'s "newspaper of record," visit the New York Times online, http://www.nytimes.com/.

4. For opinion journalism, consider the following links: Washington Post "Opinions," http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/opinions/index.html?nav%3Dglobetop⊂=AR; Common Dreams News Center, http://www.commondreams.org/; Democracy Now, daily webcast, http://www.democracynow.org/;The Weekly Standard, http://www.weeklystandard.com/; The Wall Street Journal, Opinion, http://online.wsj.com/public/page/opinion.html; and Town Hall.com, http://www.townhall.com/.

Naturally there are many other websites to consider. But for the purposes of the class, briefly reviewing the BBC or the New York Times websites will suffice.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Update: Finding Fallacies in the World (Bowie, 1124, 1125; PGCC, 2205)

In light of this Monday's tasks, concerning fallacies, consider the following:

1. Instead of only having the option to turn this assignment in as a group project, you all can also turn this in individually. However, working as a group can prove valuable for two primary reasons: (1) you can "divide and conquer" the task; and (2) it can put you in a better space to prepare for the week's collaborative Learning Assessment on fallacies.

2. Be sure to visit "The Colbert Report" (2008) http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/index.jhtml (accessed February 8, 2008), on the net. Today, I saw a number of intentional fallacies (mindful that this show is a parody on "the day's" social and political matters), such that one can use this source to find many real world examples of fallacies.

Towards Week Three's Critique (All)

For Week Three (February 11- 15, 2008), two new texts have been incorporated into the week. As such, here are the readings and the corresponding matters to consider, "Towards Week Three's Critique" (all classes):

  1. Negate the text on the syllabus and read the text under, “Fallacies” (The Nizkor Project, 1991-2008) http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ (accessed February 7, 2008). Have a clear idea on what "fallacies" are all about, as defined by the text.
  2. After reading said text, know the following fallacies, and be able to demonstrate representative examples (in the real world) of the following fallacies, at the abovementioned website: Ad Hominem; Appeal to Authority; Begging the Question; Burden of Proof; Confusing Cause and Effect; False Dilemma; Genetic Fallacy; Poisoning the Well; Red Herring; Slippery Slope; Special Pleading; Straw Man; and Two Wrongs Make a Right.
  3. And read George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s chapter, “Introduction: Who Are We?” in Philosophy in the Flesh (New York Times, 1999) http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/l/lakoff-philosophy.html (accessed February 7, 2008), to get a better idea on the strengths and weaknesses of classical philosophical conceptions of "reason." Note, the text is rich with new and technical language. Do not despair. Read the text such that it can be incorporated into your "Critiques," to the degree that it gives an account on how people reason (via emotion, ideology, values, context, etc.), as portrayed by the empirical evidence gathered by cognitive scientists.

Projected Course Schedule (All)

The following schedule is subject to modification, inasmuch as some topics may take more time, or less, to address than others.


1. Introduction to Philosophy

(a) Define Philosophy and review subfields, as the acronym MEAL (Metaphysics,

Epistemology, Axiology and Logic) defining the subfields of the discipline, applied as the acronym BWRITES (Being in the World, Writing, Reading, Thinking and Speaking) and the SAC method (determining if a given framework makes Sense, is based off of reasonable Assumptions, to assess its likely Consequences) focused on the skills that will be developed in the class.

(b) Read Stephen Law’s text “Introducing Philosophy” (handout, will be put on course-

reserve at the Thurgood Marshall Library; Law, 1 – 21).

- For more information on the branches of philosophy, see “Chapter 1: Web Links” Philosophy the Power of Ideas (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007) http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073535729/student_view0/chapter1/web_links.html (accessed January 24, 2008).


1. Socrates, The Socratic Method and Praxis

(a) Read “Socrates: The Masterly Interrogator” (20 – 23) in required text The Story of

Philosophy (Magee).

(b) Read, Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s “Apology” (The Internet

Classic Archive, 2000) http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/apology.html (January 24,


(c) View, “Cornel West” highlighting Socrates and the 2005 text Democracy Matters

(webcast) (Youtube.com, at Sonoma State University, posted January 25, 2008) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-748487753063513377&q=cornel+west&total=314&start=0&num=10&so=1&type=search&plindex=2 (accessed January 27, 2008).

- For further reference, view, “Socrates” (webcast), in History: In Our Time (BBC Radio 4, September 27, 2007)


(accessed January 24, 2008).

- For further reference on the Socratic Method, see Ken Samples text “The

Socratic Method” (Stand to Reason, 2008)

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5631 (accessed January

24, 2008).

WEEKS 3 - 5

1. A Philosopher’s Tool Kit

(a) Read the text at the web-link “Logic and Fallacies” in Philosophy the Power of Ideas

(McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007) http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073535729/student_view0/chapter1/web_links.html (accessed January 24, 2008).

2. Comparative History of Philosophy

(a) Midterm review; read “The History of Philosophy” (handout, will be put on course-

reserve at the Thurgood Marshall Library, Stephen Law, 24 – 43).

(b) Read “The African Origin of Philosophy” (handout, will be put on course-reserve at

the Thurgood Marshall Library, Theophile Obenga, 50 – 101).

WEEKS 6 - 9

1. Read, The Story of Philosophy (Required text, Bryan Magee).

(a) Week 6: read “Introduction;” “The Greeks and Their World” (the

Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, The Cynics, The Sceptics, The Epicureans and The Stoics); “Christianity and Philosophy” (Saint Augustine and Medieval Philosophy).


(b) Week 7: Midterm presentations; read “The Beginnings of Modern Science”

(Copernicus to Newton, Machiavelli, Francis Bacon and Hobbes); “The Great Rationalists” (Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz); “The Great Empiricists” (Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Burke).

(c) Week 8: read “Revolutionary French Thinkers” (Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau); “A

Golden Century of German Philosophy” (Kant, Schopenhauer, Eastern and

Western Philosophy Compared, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche).

(d) Week 9: read “Democracy and Philosophy” (The Utilitarians and The American

Pragmatists); “20th Century Philosophy” (Frege and Modern Logic, Russell and

Analytic Philosophy, Wittgenstein and Linguistic Philosophy, Existentialism, Bergson and Recent French Philosophy, Popper and The Future of Philosophy).

- For access to comprehensive links on Western Philosophy and full-texts, see Brooke Moore and Kenneth Bruder’s companion website to the text Philosophy: The Power of Ideas, 7/e (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007) http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073535729/student_view0/ (accessed January 24, 2008).

WEEKS 10 - 13

1. Read the following chapters in Africana Studies (Required text, ed. Mario


(a) Week 10: Final examination review; read, “Africa and the Genesis of Humankind”

(R. Hunt Davis, Jr.); “Legitimate Trade, Diplomacy and the Slave Trade” (M. Alpha Bah); “Diaspora Africans and Slavery” (Raymond Gavins);

(b) Week 11: read “European Exploration and Conquest of Africa” (Mario Azevedo);

“Civil War to Civil Rights: The Quest for Freedom and Equality” (Marsha Jean Darling); and (optional) “The Caribbean: From Emancipation to Independence” (Nikongo Ba’Nikongo).

(c) Week 12: read “Africa’s Road to Independence (1945 – 1960)” (Julius E. Nyang’oro);

“The Pan African Movement” (Michael Williams).

(d) Week 13: read “The Contemporary African World” (Luis B. Serapiao) and

“Contemporary Diaspora and the Future” (Alphine W. Jefferson).

WEEKS 14 - 16

1. Read the following chapters in African Philosophy (Required text, ed.

Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze) and web-links.

(a) Week 14: Final examination review; read “African, African American, Africana

Philosophy” (Lucius Outlaw);

and “Modern Western Philosophy and African Colonialism” (E. Chukwudi Eze).

(b) Week 15: see “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”

(http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2927t.html) (Frederick Douglass); read “The

Illusions of Race” (Kwame Anthony Appiah); see “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to

Break Silence” (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm) (Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.).

(c) Week 16: Final Research paper reviews; read “Black Women Shaping Feminist

Theory” (bell hooks); “Colonialism and the Colonized: Violence and Counter-Violence” (Tsnay Serequeberhan); see “Executive Summary” of In Larger Freedom (Kofi Annan) (http://www.un.org/largerfreedom/summary.html); read “Prophetic Pragmatism” (Cornel West) on course-reserve.

General Resources for the Term (All)

Internet Resources

Bruder, Kenneth and Moore, Brooke. Companion website to the text Philosophy: The

Power of Ideas, 7/e. (McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2007)

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073535729/student_view0/ (accessed

January 24, 2008).

Bragg, Melvin. “Philosophy Archive” (webcast) in, In Our Time. (BBC Radio, 2008)


(accessed January 24, 2008).

Perry, John and Taylor, Ken. “Philosophy Talk” (webcast). (Stanford University, 2008)

http://www.philosophytalk.org/ (accessed January 24, 2008).

Stanford University. “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy” (Center for the Study of

Language and Information, 2008) http://plato.stanford.edu/ (accessed January 24,


University of California Berkeley. “Turabian and Chicago Style Citations” (University of

California Berkeley Library, August 14, 2006) http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/instruct/guides/chicago-turabianstyle.pdf (accessed January 24, 2006).