Part I: Q&A Discussion Forum: You will be asked to come up with two original questions based on the work of two different authors in each week’s required readings. Think about what stood out to you in the works in question—what ideas, theories, or approaches did you find to be interesting, engaging, or perhaps intriguing or challenging? (See each Discussion Forum for the specific authors or works you may select from in forming your questions.) Your task is then to do your best to answer each of your own questions as incisively and thoroughly as possible within a word-count range of around 350-500 words maximum (posts with fewer than 250 words will not receive any credit). The word count includes your question but not any citations. You must cite at least one source, which will be the particular essay or article from the required readings you are addressing. You are welcome to bring in as many others sources as you may need, but this is optional. Just be sure to cite any source from which you take ideas, arguments, or passages of language within the body of your response (next to the quoted or paraphrased passages), including the full source information at the end of your response (you need not do a separate works cited or reference page for this assignment). Your score for this part of the assignment will be based on the relevance, sophistication, and originality of your questions as well as the insight, understanding, and incisiveness expressed in your answers. This assignment will be due at the end of day on each Friday of the course. In these essay-style responses to your own questions, you should express a point of view and support your view with good reasons, evidence, examples, expert opinion, etc. High marks will not be achieved by simply reporting back information from the text or other sources. Philosophical thinking and writing involves more than presenting information; beyond doing this, you must also critically assess the issue in question—this involves original thinking and analysis. Moreover, you should attempt to come to some final position in response to the question and include evaluation of others’ positions or views on the issues involved in the question. Work for originality and development of critical analyses and evaluations.
1) Part I: Each one of your two Q&A Discussion threads should be formatted as follows (remember…these are two separate threads): First thread: My first question is: My answer to this question is: Second thread: My second question is: My answer to this question is:
After completing this week’s assigned chapters of Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy as well as the other required readings for this week, first, summarize what you learned from reading Russell this week. Then, your main goal in this assignment beyond the summary is to tie together any theories, themes, concepts, important ideas, arguments, important observations, etc. you discover in Russell’s work and the particular philosophical views and the general content covered in the other readings. For example, in Week Four, you will be summarizing Chapters XIII-XV in The Problems of Philosophy, and then you will look for how what he says there links up with, adds to, or even conflicts with the philosophical views and ideas of James, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Chapter XV will likely be the focus of the comparative part of your commentary. This brief, informal essay should be in the 400-500-word range. You may submit your “Russell Round Up” as a file attachment or simply write it directly into the text editor (but best practice is always to save your work in a file so you don’t risk losing it if your computer shuts down). Please pay careful attention to grammar, spelling, word use, and writing style; this means you need to proofread your work before submitting it. This assignment is worth 5 points (weighted at 4%). It is due at the end of day on each Saturday of the course.
Here are the required reading assignments to be completed this week:
- Russell, The Problems of Philosophy : Chapters XIII-XV [ Russell, Bertrand.The Problems of Philosophy, pp. 68-81]. The entire work can be found online here: Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy.
- Study Guide: SparkNotes on Russell’s Problems of Philosophy: Chapter XIII ; Chapter XIV ; Chapter XV .
- God Arguments: Four Classical Arguments for God’s Existence; Brief Outline: Traditional Arguments for the Existence of God .
- Study Guide: “Critics of Religion” (PowerPoint slide lecture).
- James, “The Will to Believe” (entire). [Read the originally published article here: William James, ” The Will to Believe. “]
- Study Guide: Brief Outline of James’s “Will to Believe.” .
- Study Guide: Read the original 1877 article to which James is responding in “The Will to Believe,” entitled, “The Ethics of Belief, ” by William Clifford.
- Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (entire), pp. 1-61.
- Study Guide: Themes, Arguments, and Ideas in Kierkegaard’s Writings (from SparkNotes).
- Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil , Preface, Parts 1, 2, & 3: [§1-62] pp. 3-57.
- Study Guide: SparkNotes on Beyond Good and Evil . (Note: These notes cover the entire book; the section that relates to your specific assignment can be found on pp. 1-12; these notes will be very helpful in understanding Nietzsche’s thinking, especially for those new to his work.).
- Recent Interview with Nietzsche scholar, Hugo Drochon: ” What Nietzsche’s Philosophy Can Tell Us about Why Brexit and Trump Won .”
For general research on any philosophical topic, theme, or major philosopher, here are two excellent online sources:
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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