Sunday, April 27, 2008

For the Outline and Final Research Project (ALL)

Given that you all are developing your outlines and Final Research Projects (FRP), it is imperative that you all clearly know what I am looking for, for each section of your FRP. What follows is an outline that contains the particulars that I am looking for, which will ensure maximum points (but, be sure to put what follows in your own specific-words in your outlines):

Section One: Introduction to Philosophy
1. Clearly define philosophy.
2. Introduce the reader to MEAL and BWRITES.
3. Write about what does and/or does not work for you in philosophy, focused on (hopefully) how it can work for you in the future (academically and/or professionally).

Section Two: The History of Philosophy
1. Review the history of philosophy, as framed by Law (Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern).
Note: Be sure to (a) integrate the interventions of Obenga (into Ancient section) and Magee (the whole framework) into this section to develop your analysis; (b) clearly distinguish what aspects of MEAL each section and/or each thinker is focused on; and (c) make sure your voice, via criticism ("SAC" but SAC that is not restrictive but "free," what works and what does not work), is privileged throughout the text.

Section Three: The Emergence of Africana Philosophy
1. Tell the story of the Africana World (see BBC and Azevedo).
2. Tell the story of Race (PBS and BBC Webcast), and Race and Philosophy (Eze).
3. Clearly define Africana Philosophy (Harris and Outlaw and where it fits within MEAL) and the various streams (voices) in the discourse. Also, be sure that your criticism, reactions to the texts, are clear throughout your analysis. I do not just want summary!
4. Feature the praxis of one thinker, focused on their big ideas and practices and your reactions to it-- as in, your arguments demonstrating why you agree and do not agree with it.

Section Four: Your Philosophy
1. According to you what is the nature of existence (metaphysics)?
2. How do you know what exists (epistemology)?
3. What is your core value (axiology)?
4. What is your praxis (praxis)?
5. Feature a critical analysis of one key philosopher.
Note: This section presupposes that you know and are comfortable working within the framework of MEAL. If not, consult the former blogs and resources that covers the meaning of MEAL. Also, be sure that you clearly develop each section of this section in a clear and compelling fashion.

Section Five: Special Topic
1. Develop a clear and concrete research question.
2. Clearly determine and express why you value your question and/or why knowing about it matters.
3. Make sure you express your text within the framework of a well developed Critique-- Intro-Thesis, Body (with critical analysis, "SAC," etc.) and Conclusion, privileging your voice.

To do well on your FRP, keep the following interventions in mind if you want to ensure success: (1) reach out to your Learning Community members if you have any questions and responsibly edit each other's texts; (2) reach out to me if you have any questions about the FRP (in class, office hours, blog, e-mail); (3) take advantage of the learning/writing centers that are available to you to help you help yourself (on writing well, ENDNOTES!!!, etc.)

Note: (1) Naturally, one can utilize the abovementioned framework as a guide to your outlines of sections one through three that are due. However, you must fill in the blanks. In other words, rewriting the abovementioned texts in your own words will not work, unless and until you fill in the blanks with respect to how you will be developing each section. (2) Do not forget that the early critiques that we wrote this term cover sections one through two of your FRP. Just clearly structure each section of your FRP, cut, paste, edit and integrate former Critiques into your FRP and make it work.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

For the Last Week of Class (All)

Note: For PGCC students "2215" (M@6), our last day of class will be May 5, 2008; and PGCC students "2205" (MWF@12) our last day of class will be May 7, 2008. Taking these matters into account, the forthcoming texts are matters that are to be incorporated into your Final Research Projects (FRP).

The work that is posted below pertains to the last week of materials that I will be posting for our classes (for all BSU students the last day of class is Monday, May 12, 2008). It is being posted below for one primary reason, to help you all develop your section three outlines of your FRP (due this coming Monday April 28, 2008). As such, preview (you are not being asked to read) the following materials so that you can (1) incorporate them into your outlines that are due this coming Monday and (2) you may want to concentrate on one of the following thinkers or texts in section three of your FRP.

Week 14

  • Gathering Africana Philosophy, cont.
  1. For Monday: Read bell hook’s text “Black Women Shaping Feminist Theory” (Eze).
  2. For Wednesday: Read Cornel West’s “Prophetic Pragmatism” (class handout in first week of class) OR watch a webcast of him talking about his text Democracy Matters, 9-11 and Justice.
  3. For your FRP: Familiarize yourselves with the the United Nations' (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and read the former Secretary General (SG) of the UN Kofi Annan’s “Executive Summary” of his text In Larger Freedom. No outlines will be due for this week, just be sure that the above-listed texts are represented in your FRP, and be ready for a 3min Learning Assessment, or two...
Optional Resources

For those that want to learn more about the work of bell hooks, the aspirations of the former SG Kofi Annan and/or want to learn more about the philosophy of cosmopolitanism (Universal Citizenship), do not hesitate to view the following resources:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

For Week 13

*Note: For PGCC students "2215" (M, 6 - 9pm), the following assignments are posted for you all to address after our class this coming Monday (4.28.08). Essentially, you all do not have to do any new readings for this coming Monday, other than what has already been assigned. Also, everyone's WELL DEVELOPED Final Research Project (FRP) outlines of sections one (Introduction to Philosophy), two ("The" History of Philosophy) and three (The Emergence of Africana Philosophy) are due on Monday.

Week 13

Gathering Africana Philosophy, cont.

  • For Monday: Read the last chapter of Kwame Nkrumah’s text (1965) “Neocolonialism, the Last State of Imperialism;" read excerpt from Frantz Fannon’s “Wretched of the Earth” (Eze). Optional! For those that would like to learn more about the Cold War, political and economic, challenges that Nkrumah faced in Ghana, do not hesitate to see the BBC webcast below, "Black Power"...

  • For Wednesday: Read about what Dr. King called the “Triple Evils” plaguing humanity (War, Poverty and Racism); listen/view/read Dr. King's "infamous" (1967) address “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence;" and read about Dr. King’s axiological conception of “The Beloved Community."
  • For Friday: Listen to Malcolm X’s speech (Warning! this speech may be interpreted as very offensive and provocative, due to the occasional use of sensational language, as such, listening to this audiocast is optional, but representative of a very influential stream in Africana praxis of old and new) “Message to the Grassroots” OR read the charter of his political organization the “Program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity;" and read the "10 Point Program" of the Black Panther Party (BPP). Instead of turning in an outline for this week, be ready to take a Learning Assessment on the week's texts and focus your energies on turning in an optional draft of your FRP for review and five extra credit points on Monday (May 5, 2008).
Optional Resources
  • For those that would like to learn more about the political, economic and conceptual emergence of "Black Power," do not hesitate to either listen to (the audiocast) or read a transcription of the the grounding text by the Pan-Africanist Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) on "Black Power."
  • For those that would like to learn more about the BPP, do not hesitate to view the following webcast of Bobby Seal, the co-founder of the BPP organization, speaking in 2005 about the origins, values and ideals of the BPP:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Developing the Spiritual Inclination (All)

For those of you all that are more inclined to a spiritual metaphysics, consider integrating what the pragmatist William James had to say about "The Will to Believe" into section four of your Final Research Project (FRP). In this respect, pragmatism (an American philosophy) and/or the interventions of James can be utilized as the feature philosophy or philosopher in the last section of section four of your FRP.

Negotiating the latter thoughts can be useful on at least two levels: (1) you can potentially better "ground" your spiritual beliefs philosophically, and (2) you can add value to your arguments in section four of your FRP. As such, feel encouraged to take a look at the following resources:

On Pragmatism

1. For a nice introduction on the emergence of pragmatism, see Louis Menand's webcast discussing his text The Metaphysical Club, at the Library of Congress.
2. For what James wrote about Pragmatism, read the text "What Pragmatism Means"(scroll down).

On Matters of the Spirit

Note: The Key Documents!!!

1. For a very useful text, arguing for the value of belief, see "The Will to Believe" by James.
2. For a compelling outline of "The Will to Believe," see the outline of professor Bob Corbett, by clicking "here."

Monday, April 21, 2008

On Your Final Research Project Drafts (All)

*Note: For PGCC "2215" @6pm, keep the following matters in mind as you all go about completing your Final Research Projects (FRP).

For your drafts of section four and five of your FRP that are due this coming Wednesday (4.23.08), keep the following three gestures in mind:
  1. Before you write your drafts, be sure that you clearly know what MEAL (metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and logic) is all about. Developing section four (on your philosophy) presupposes that you all have a good understanding of MEAL. Check out "What is Philosophy Anyway" (scroll down and see "Branches of Philosophy"), "A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names" and/or view the "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy" for further reference.
  2. Simplifying section four of your FRP, remember that you all have options, but not allot of them: (a) on what exists, you are either going to be committed to a material, a spiritual or a world-view that is some kind of synonym or combination of the two; (b) on how do you know what exists, you are either going to be committed to a world-view that privileges the senses (including the faculty to reason), faith or some kind of synonym or combination of the two; (c) on your values, you have a host of options, but be sure that whatever you commit to is so core that without it you are divorced of a sense of purpose/meaning; and (d) on your praxis, be sure that it corresponds with your values-- in other words, your actions should follow from your core value/s.
  3. On section five of your FRP, keep the following in mind: (a) develop a clear and concrete research question; (b) clearly determine and express why you value your question and/or why knowing about it matters; and (c) make sure you express your text within the framework of a well developed Critique-- Intro-Thesis, Body (with critical analysis, "SAC," etc.) and Conclusion, privileging your voice.
Moving forward, feel encouraged to reach out to me and your Learning Community (LC) for further clarity. Further, to ensure that you are on the right path on section four of your FRP, be sure that you can clearly identify what your metaphysical, epistemological, axiological and praxiological commitments are in your text. If you (or your LC member) cannot, go back and make your ideas clearer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

For Next Week (All)

*Note: For PGCC students ("2215": M, 6 - 9pm), the following assignments are posted for you all to address after our class this coming Monday (4.21.08). Essentially, you all do not have to do any new readings for this coming Monday, other than what has already been assigned. Also, everyone's Final Research Project (FRP) drafts of section four (your philosophy) and section five (special topic) are due on (Monday or) Wednesday. (To lighten the workload, consider turning in section four on Monday and section five on Wednesday.) Imagine that you are "literally" writing both sections of your FRP, informed by my comments on your summaries and outlines and turn them in this coming (Monday or) Wednesday.

Week 12

Gathering Africana Philosophy

  • For Monday: Read “The Declaration of Independence” (1776) and Fredrick Douglass’s (1852) “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro."
  • For Wednesday: Read Booker T. Washington’s (1895) “Atlanta Compromise Speech;" read Marcus Garvey’s (1920) “Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World" (scroll down to bottom of webpage. Upon review of the latter Declaration, you will notice many references to the terror/ism of lynching/s in the U.S.: "17. Whereas, the lynching, by burning, hanging or any other disgrace to civilization, we therefore declare any country guilty of such atrocities outside the pale of civilization." For a visual representation of the horrors of that age, via pictures and commentaries of people being lynched, visit "Without Sanctuary" for further reference. Warning!, as one can imagine, the images at the former website are "outside the pale of civilization," and shock and awe the conscience. It is not required that anyone view the latter images! Yet, for those that are ready to move beyond the sanitized version of Western history, philosophy and "civilization," to understand the context under which a "philosophy born of struggle" emerged, do not hesitate to view the latter site for historical context.) Also, in the place of reading the former Declaration, you can watch one of the two documentaries on the praxis of Marcus Garvey below. The first, PBS's "Marcus Garvey: Look for me in the Whirlwind" (which lasts for 1hr and 20min) primarily focuses on what they believe did not work with his character and movement, the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA); and the second (which starts at 1hr 2omin on the screen below, and lasts for about 1hr) focuses on what did work with his praxis, explicitly connecting him with African Independence struggles, Malcolm X and the black power movement:

  • For Friday: Read the NAACP’s biographical sketch of “W.E.B. DuBois” and his text on “The Talented Tenth." Turn in Outline/s (or Critique/s for extra credit and Outline credit), assessing the week’s texts.
At this point in the class, we are "gathering" (Outlaw) the principal texts in the Africana philosophy discourse. As we move forward, I want you all to be mindful of the following, as it pertains to understanding and interpreting the abovementioned texts, and beyond:
  1. We are developing Section three (The Emergence of Africana Philosophy) of your FRP.
  2. Africana philosophy is an axiological praxis, focused on social and political philosophy-- when it comes to MEAL. In this stream, texts within the Africana philosophy discourse are open to philosophical interpretation (privileging the social and political realities that inhere), as are many events in the social and political world. For example, take the tragedy of "9-11," 2001. As a point of fact, 9-11 is open to a variety of interpretations (readings). Philosophers can examine the definition/realities/consequences of terrorism/counter-terrorism; Economists can examine the economic impact of 9-11 and the Bush Administration's "war on terror" in Iraq, and beyond; Psychologists can examine the fear jointly produced by 9-11 and the "war on terror;" Sociologists can examine the structural conditions that inform terror/ism (i.e. Imperialism, colonial/military occupations, perceptions of injustice, nihilism...), etc. As we can see, events (texts) are open for a community of interpretations/readings.
  3. In light of the above, we will be examining the Africana world philosophically, via the rubric of Africana philosophy. IT'S ALL ABOUT PRAXIS!!! As such, when writing your outlines, in preparation for completing section three of your FRP, be sure to clearly locate/identify the praxis (social and political ideas/valuations and "corresponding" political practices/actions) of a given thinker. In other words, you have two tasks at hand for every text, (a) determine what kind of social, political and/or economic valuations/philosophies that are implicitly or explicitly being valued; and (b) determine what kind of social, political and/or economic practices that are implicitly or explicitly being proposed/implemented.
As we will see, beyond the gatherings/reflections of professional philosophers (Eze, Appiah, Outlaw, Harris, etc.), the actual Africana "philosophy born of struggle" (Harris), "at its best," has been rooted in word and (life-world changing, social/political/economic) deed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

For Next Week (All)

*Note: For PGCC students ("2215": M, 6 - 9pm), the following assignments are posted for you all to address after our class this coming Monday (4.14.08). Essentially, you all do not have to do any new readings for this coming Monday, other than what has already been assigned. Also, everyone's outlines are due on Monday for section four and five of your Final Research Projects.

Week 11
  • Defining Africana Philosophy

(a) For Monday: See the (3min) webcast “What is Africana Philosophy?":

read the PBS review of “What is Race?”, clicking the 10 “quick facts” at the bottom of the webpage to learn about the social construction of race; and read (ESSENTIAL READING!) “Modern Western Philosophy and African Colonialism” (Eze’s text, African Philosophy).

(b) For Wednesday: View the informative first part ("The Colour [sic] of Money") of the BBC documentary, “Racism: A History”:

highlighting the economic interests that (many argue) drove slavery/imperialism/colonialism and the rationale via philosophy, science and religion that followed; and begin Lucius Outlaw’s text (23 – 28) “African, African American, Africana Philosophy” (Eze).

(c) For Friday: Complete Outlaw’s text (29 – 39) “African, African American, Africana Philosophy” (Eze). Turn in Critiques, assessing the week’s readings.

For further reference, do not hesitate to assess the following OPTIONAL resources:

  • For those who want to explore race/racism and philosophy, and contemporary reactions in the virtual world, view the exchange at "Philosophical Misadventures," where you can look at the disturbing views on black people and Africans from thinkers like Kant, Hume, Schopenhauer, Hegel and Mills. Warning!, some of the links and comments can be viewed as "extreme" (there are links to hate sites), though, instructive insofar as we can see how people, old and new, are thinking and using the thoughts of various philosophers to rationalize white power (Eurocentrism).
  • View “Race Timeline" and click “Explore Timeline” to look at the social, philosophical and scientific origins of race; listen to the philosopher Kwame Appiah’s audiocast interview, “What is Race?” at “Philosophy Talk;” read Appiah’s text “The Illusions of Race” (Eze).
  • For those that want to see the other two parts of the BBC documentary "Racism: A History" ("Fatal Impact" and "A Savage Legacy") do not hesitate to click this link.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

(New) Extra Credit Options! (All)

Extra Credit Options are at hand! Three will be sketched in this blog, but concerning other options, do not hesitate to look at the syllabus for further reference.

*Note: Anyone who has missed critiques, has not done well on their general and three-minute Learning Assessments, and/or wants to ensure that they get the best grade/s available to them, be sure to take advantage of the extra credit opportunities at hand. Again, one can earn a total of 20points in extra credit points, with the potential to move your grade up one whole letter grade.

Two events, in particular, are forthcoming at Politics and Prose bookstore (5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 2008, 202.364.1919). Do not hesitate to click on the latter link and get on their event listserv:

1. On Saturday, 4.12.08. (This Saturday!), the renowned critical Historian Howard Zinn will be presenting his most recent text, A People's History of American Empire: A Graphic Adaption with Mike Konopacki at 1pm. (If any one of you all plan to attend this or any other event, please let me know, through posting a comment at this blog, in class or sending me an e-mail, so that I can make arrangements to attend the event.) For those that want to read an excerpt of the text, do not hesitate to visit the following article/link Empire or Humanity? What the classroom did not teach me about American Empire; and for those that want to view a persuasive and engaging, animated adaption of the same text see...

2. On Friday, 5.9.08 at 7pm, Michale Eric Dyson, who Ebony magazine named as one of the hundred most influential Black Americans, will be presenting his most recent text, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death and How it Changed America. To get a glimpse of Dr. Dyson in action, he surely performs, do not hesitate to see his most recent Book TV webcast, In Depth: Michale Eric Dyson (when you click the latter link, on the upper right hand corner, click the little red link "watch" to view the webcast), highlighting his body of scholarship.

Recalling an exchange in some of my classes on Monday, I want to remind you all about another way to garner extra credit points that can accomplish many things at one time:

3. For those of us who have missed writing Critiques, go on and do them and submit them as Extra Credit Critiques (the syllabus specifies how many you can turn in). If you do this, you will be doing, at least, two things at one time. On the one hand, you will be earning extra credit points and on the other hand, you will be doing the critiques that you have to do already, focused on the complete development of the Final Research Project.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Final Research Project Dates (All)

What follows are dates that you all need to be mindful of, addressing Final Reseach Project (FRP) matters:

*Note: Before you turn in any of the following materials, be sure that you visit the prior blog post on what the expectations are for section four (on your philosophy) and section five (special research topic) of the FRP.

1. Monday, 4.7.08 (Tomorrow if you forgot!): Turn in a summary of section four (creating a narrative, within the framework as specified on prior post) and section five (introducing your topic, why you value it and how you intend to examine it) of your FRP.

2. Monday, 4.14.o8: Turn in an outline of section four and section five of your FRP-- informed by my commentary found in your summary, sketch a well developed outline of your projected final sections.

3. Monday, 4.21.08: Turn in a draft of section four and section five of your FRP-- in other words, write both sections and hand them in, as if you were completing both sections.

4. Monday, 4.28.08: Turn in a well developed outline of your total FRP (all five sections)-- at this point, you will have already done this for section four and five of your FRP, just make any potential adjustments and use this time to edit and integrate your former critiques into the FRP.

5. Monday, 5.5.08: Optional! Turn in Draft of completed FRP (though this is optional, doing this project will help ensure that you earn optimal points on the FRP and will serve as FIVE EXTRA CREDIT POINTS!).

Keep the following in mind: Look at the abovementioned dates optimistically! The latter dates are consistent with what I said during the first week of class: I expect everyone to get an "A," but I cannot want it more than you! In other words, if you do the summary, outline and drafts, you will earn more points for turning that work in (for those that have not done well on some Learning Assessments, have missed some critiques, or have been behind, this is a practical way to makeup lost points, helping you help yourself), I will have the opportunity to read your work and give you comments, to ensure that you get the best grade possible-- mindful that the final is worth 25% of your total grade.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

For Next Week (All)

*Note: For PGCC students ("2215": M, 6 - 9pm), the following assignments are posted for you all to address after our class this coming Monday (4.7.08). Essentially, you all do not have to do any new readings for this coming Monday, other than what has already been assigned.

Week 10

  • Exploring the Africana World: European contact, Civil War and Civil Rights, African Independence and Pan Africanism

(a) For Monday: Read the introductory page of “Africa and Europe” and the following links under the Index (“The European Scramble,” “Political Resistance,” “Forces for Change” and “Timeline”) at the BBC's “The Story of Africa.”

(b) For Wednesday: Read the text “Civil War to Civil Rights: The Quest for Freedom and Equality” (Azevedo).

(c) For Friday: Read the introductory page of “Independence” and the following links under the Index (“Towards Independence,” “French and British Colonial Styles,” “The Nation State,” “Post Independence,” “Independence Timeline”) at the BBC's “Story of Africa.” And read “The Pan African Movement” (Azevedo) OR finish viewing the John Henrik Clarke webcast on Pan-Africanism, "A Great and Mighty Walk." Turn in Critiques, assessing the week’s readings.

Optional: For those that want more information on the Africana world's contemporary challenges, do not hesitate to visit the following links.

On your critiques, keep in mind that you all are developing section three ("The Emergence of Africana Philosophy") of your Final Research Project (FRP). Towards this end, we are reading and writing about the realities of Africana history, before we assess the philosophical praxis of key people in the Africana world. Again, you are reading and writing section three of your FRP, right now!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On Forgiveness and Unconditional Love (BSU, 1124 @9am)

*Note: This is not a mandatory assignment.

Greetings, I hope you all are doing well.

To follow up on our classroom conversation on Monday, about the idea of being against the death penalty, except in exceptional circumstances, feel encouraged to visit the website of Bill Moyers Journal, assessing his piece "On Amish Grace."

At said website, you will find texts and a video-cast featuring the Amish community's steadfast commitment to (religious) principle in the face of tragedy. To the point, some five young Amish girls (in 2006) were murdered by an assailant, and the Amish community, although grieving, found a way to forgive the killer (though he killed himself). Even more, members of the Amish community went to the assailant's funeral, consoled the killer's family and did not seek revenge -- to the astonishment of the global public.

If your time allows, check out the former website to find out how the "impossible" is possible-- in this age of War and Terror.