Friday, March 28, 2008

For Next Week (All)

*Note: For PGCC students (2215, M, 6 - 9pm), the following materials are matters for you all to address after our class this coming Monday. In other words, you all do not have to do any new readings for this coming Monday, other than what has already been assigned.

To date, we have covered Western Philosophy, focused on the Ancients, the Medieval world, the Early Moderns, and the Modern period. Moving forward, we will be assessing philosophy in the social world (social and political philosophy), focused on the emergence (or genealogy) of Africana Philosophy. Towards this end, the first thing that we are going to do is learn more about Africa-- before we negotiate the Africana world (Africa and the African diaspora) within the context of philosophy.

For the following week, the syllabus has been slightly amended:

Week 9
  • Exploring Africa: Human Origins, Civilization/s and Slavery

(a) For Monday: Familiarize yourselves with the Map of Africa (click this link to the left and all corresponding links below). Read Ch. 3 “Africa and the Genesis of Humankind” (Azevedo). Note, for those students that have not purchased the Azevedo text (Africana Studies) read "Early History" (and the corresponding Index on the right-hand column of the web-page) at BBC's "The Story of Africa."

(b) For Wednesday: Read the information at the following links (on the left-hand column of the web-page) “Nile Valley,” “West African Kingdoms,” and “Central African Kingdoms” at "The Story of Africa."

(c) For Friday: Read the information at the link and index for “Slavery” at “The Story of Africa.” Turn in Critique/s, assessing the week’s readings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Reading the Symbols on Your Papers (All)

With respect to reading the symbols that you all will find on the essays that I will be handing back (tomorrow), I want you all to take note of the following (additional) symbolic notations. In other words, if/when you see the following symbols in quotation next to a passage in your text (as in, "S," "T," "R," etc.) note that they correspond to the word next to it (as in, “S” = Structure, “T” = Transition, “R” = Relevance...):

“S” = Structure; “T” = Transition; “R” = Relevance; “D” = Details; “D/E” = Definition and Explanation; “CA” = Critical Apparatus (citations and endnotes); “Φ
” = Why Is Your Analysis Philosophical (MEAL-SAC)?; “C/A” = Criticism and Argumentation; “?” = Clarity Problem. Other symbols will be used to address the mechanics of your writing: “G” = Grammar; “Sp” = Spelling; “Pct.” = punctuation; “SL” = Sexist Language; “A” = Above (point already made above, why repeated?).

Friday, March 14, 2008

During Spring Break (All)

Concerning the upcoming (and needed!) spring break, I want you all to take into account the following matters:

1. Surely, get some rest and recuperate. For many of us, the term has been rewarding but taxing. Be sure to get a little sunlight so that your batteries can be recharged when class picks back up.

2. After you have taken the time out to rest, be sure that you read the next three chapters in Maggee ("The Great Rationalists," "The Great Empiricists," and the "Revolutionary French Thinkers") over the break and write a critique on the same topics to turn in on the first day of class (3.24.08). Again, be sure to read the text structurally and actively. Further, be able to "tell the story" of each chapter, identify key thinkers and philosophies (use the table of contents as a guide to the philosophical traditions and philosophies that you should be responsible for), and be able to write about each chapter within the context of MEAL-SAC.

3. Consider finishing the book and doing extra credit critiques over the break. Concerning the extra credit critiques, I would argue that it is in your interest to go through the Magee text and think about writing critiques on particular philosophies and/or philosophers that you can identify with. Taking advantage of the latter opportunity can prove beneficial insofar as you will be (a) learning and getting extra credit points (to make up for missed LA's, critiques, or just simply earning more functional points) and you will be (b) effectively completing section four (4) of your Final Research Project, on Your Philosophy.

4. If you have not done this already, make sure that you (take a brief) look at the links under "Philosophy Resources" and "Philosophical Webcasts" on this blog. Assessing the former links will help you (a) do well on your three minute Learning Assessments (LA's) and most importantly (b) it will help you know exactly where to go to develop (Section Four of) your Final Research Projects.

Be safe and have fun!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Towards the Final Research Project (All)

From now until the end of the semester, we will be focusing on creating the conditions for you all to write your Final Research Projects (FRP).

What follows are the five (5) sections that are to be fully developed in your seven to ten (7 to 10) page FRP. (All will work out!) To the degree that you all keep up with the readings and the corresponding weekly critiques, your FRP will come together, one week at a time.

Section 1: Introduction to Philosophy
In this section, you will be critically introducing the reader to philosophy and the discipline's four primary academic streams (MEAL). At this point in the project, you will be revising and integrating your first three critiques into this section.

Section 2: "The" History of Philosophy
In this section, you will be critically reviewing "the" history of philosophy. At this point in the project, you will be revising and integrating your midterm critique on Law and Obenga. Further, the three critiques that you will be writing on Magee (the text you are reading now) will be used to re/construct this narrative.

Section 3: The Emergence of Africana Philosophy
In this section, you will be critically reviewing the emergence of Africana Philosophy. At this point in the project, you will be revising and integrating the critiques that you all will be writing on the Azevedo (Africana Studies), Eze (African Philosophy), and related online texts.

Section 4: Exploring Your Philosophy
In this section, you will be self-consciously reviewing your philosophy, essentially, locating it on the map of philosophical history. As we discussed in class, you all will be asking yourselves and answering the following fundamental questions in philosophy: (1) What is there in the universe or outside of it (your metaphysics)? (2) What is knowledge, how may we reach "the truth" (your epistemology)? (3) How should we decide what is valuable (your axiology)? (4) How should we live our lives (praxis)? While negotiating the former questions, you all are expected to do some specific research on a particular philosopher or philosophy that coheres with your values. (Use the "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy," "The Internet Classic Archive" and "The Value of Knowledge" links for further reference.) In other words, while writing about your metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and praxis, be sure to ground your reflections on that which came before you (and may be "to come," if you are contributing something truly original to the discourse!).

Section 5: Special Research Topic
In this section, you will be writing your own, self-critical, special research topic. At this point in the project, you will have plenty of autonomy. You can do research on a topic in philosophy, on a particular philosopher or philosophy, on a matter related to your academic discipline or career, on your religious values (or lack thereof), on a contemporary social and/or political issue (War, Peace, Terrorism/Counter-terrorism, Israel-Palestine, Social Justice and Security, Human Rights, Torture, Wealth, Poverty, the Presidential Elections, the Right to Vote, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia...) etc. As we get closer to the end of the semester, we will be working together to secure the horizon of this section. Further, as we discussed in class, you all will have the autonomy to express this in a medium that works for you. So, if you are an artist, let's see some art-work and your written interpretation. If you are a rapper and/or musician, let's hear what you have to share and your written interpretation. If you like to create "fiction," let's read about the 21st century "Allegory of the Cave." If you are a poet, let's read your poem and your written interpretation. Again, you all have options.

Note: Moving forward, keep two things in mind: (1) Do the weekly readings and critiques. (All else will come into place, if you do not let yourself get behind!) (2) Pay special attention to the philosophers and philosophies that intersect with your philosophical values (recall that in section four of the FRP, your task is to tell your story and locate it on the map of philosophical history). As such, you will need to do this by doing your own research-- which can be done by utilizing the resources on this blog.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Timeline of (Western) Philosophy (All)

For those that want another resource, focused on the history of (Western) Philosophy, do not hesitate to visit "Philosophy Timeline" found at the Website for the text Philosophy: An Introduction to the Art of Wondering. (When you click on either link, note that the "Philosophy Timeline" is under the section labeled "Course Resources" on the left hand column of the webpage.)

This website can prove very useful. It gives a brief overview of key philosophers, it talks about their relationships to MEAL, and the visuals make the text very accessible. Moreover, going through the former link can give you all support for your Comprehensive Learning Assessment focused on Law's conception of (Western) Philosophy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Midterm Review (ALL)

The following reflections pertain to all classes, although for my PGCC class "2215" these matters will not be applicable until the week after next (3.10.08).

As we have discussed, the midterm has three primary components. Below, those components will be outlined with corresponding particulars:

1. Presentations and Text (next Wednesday and Friday):
(a.) Expect to present for five minutes and facilitate questions for five minutes.

(b.) Concerning the content of your presentations, be sure to (i) introduce your topic with a clear thesis statement, addressing "the problem" of the history of philosophy, using Law and Obenga as your primary texts; (ii) clearly review/present the arguments that Law and Obenga offer, concerning the history of philosophy-- the structure of their texts/claims/theses; and (iii) share your judgments/determinations with the class, concerning the "problem" of the history of philosophy, focused on whose arguments were most compelling, what worked and what did not work with their narratives.

(c.) During the presentation, be sure to (i) clearly introduce the topic, problem and the way your LC will address the problem at the outset of your presentation; (ii) utilize learning aids-- power point presentation, handouts, etc.-- so that your audience can follow along with your presentation (also, have a back up plan in the event that the expected technology is not available or breaks down); (iii) turn in a text of your learning aid for full credit; and (iv) make sure that everyone in your LC has an opportunity to speak.

Note: Everyone must be ready to present and have text in hand on Wednesday.

2. Comprehensive Learning Assessment (projected, next Friday):
Concerning the Comprehensive Learning Assessment (CLA), it will be on all that we have learned, from the first week of class, to date. Moving forward, think through the following:

(a.) The CLA will be similar to the Learning Assessments that we had on Law and Obenga (do not expect an open notebook).

(b.) Be sure that you all can think and write responsibly on the following: the definition of philosophy; MEAL; the SAC method; BWRITES; Socrates, the Socratic Method and praxis; Fallacies, all 13 that were posted on a former blog, to deploy them in real world circumstances; the key claims of Law and Obenga concerning the history of philosophy; and the axiological import of Dr. Clarke's webcast (see priory post for the video, also if it happens to be unavailable at a given moment, persist, it will eventually come back online).

3. Three to Five Page Writing Entry (next Friday):
As we discussed in class, the options with respect to how this paper can be written have been enlarged. What follows are a list of choices and "literary situations" that you all can put yourselves in to complete this writing entry. Using Law and Obenga as your primary resources, choose from one of the following options:

(a) Write an op-ed (opinion editorial, go to the "Opinion" section of a given paper for further reference) paper on the challenges of reconciling the claims that Law and Obenga make with respect to the history of philosophy, privileging your voice/judgment on what "the fact" of the matter is all about.

(b) Create a blog entry on the problem of the history of philosophy.

(c) Send an e-mail to a friend on the history of philosophy.

(d) Write a letter or send an e-mail to either author for further clarity on the history of philosophy, addressing the other author's account. For example, if I am writing to Obenga, I am writing him, with criticism, in such a way where I clearly write about his thesis and supporting claims (all of them!), but then ask him about Law and retrace Law's narrative (four eras, and supporting iterations). So, maybe my fundamental question for Obenga, on Law is: Why do you think Law does not talk about Egypt's influence on Greek Philosophy? (I can also ask him about problems that I have with his text.) If I am writing to Law, I would write to him clearly demonstrating that I know about his fundamental claims (again, four primary categories, etc.) with respect to the history of philosophy. Yet, I would ask him about Obenga, retracing his narrative (again, thesis and supporting claims/evidence), to get to the fundamental point: Why the absence of Egypt in your account of philosophy's history? Naturally, there are other questions that can be asked of either author, the former were just representative examples that can be used to develop.

(e) Draft a text, as if you were presenting it at an academic conference or lecturing a class, on the history of philosophy, and its "conflicting" narratives. Here, too, I want you to take a clear position on the matter, based on whose account appears to be developed best via reason, arguments, evidence, etc.

Note: When you turn in your papers, be sure to clearly indicate which literary situation you have assumed in your text.