Our Knowledge of the World around Us

| January 3, 2016

Our Knowledge of the World around Us

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Description:This paper is on Chapter 10, “Our Knowledge of the World around Us?” of philosophy 1301 in Problems from Philosophy book by James Rachels Philosophy 1301 Protocol Paper Format Tips for success: Often, students lose points on these papers because they do not write the minimum length (750 words) or they do not edit/proofread their papers sufficiently (the expectation for college level work is that it be written in Standard English). Also, I provide individual feedback on at least the first paper (I provide general feedback on all the papers), but often as the semester progresses, it seems that students have not heeded the comments I have made, because the latter papers contain the same shortcomings as the earlier ones. I cannot tell you how important it is for you to read my feedback. Trust me; it will help you on future papers. Also, please read each section below carefully as I have given specific instructions for what is expected in each section. Protocol for Response to Readings Use the following protocol in preparing response papers to assigned readings. The papers should be a MINIMUM of 750 words. Each heading should be listed to indicate which part of the protocol you are following. (Example: Write “RECALL,” and then write your recollections. In the next paragraph write “SUMMARY,” and the like.) RECALL: Simply write what you consider to be the main points in the reading. Try to give at least four or five main points. These must be in your own words. SUMMARIZE: Using the main points, which you have recalled, write a brief summary of the assigned chapter. Always, when summarizing, remain objective. A summary simply provides an overview of the text and contains no opinionated or evaluative statements of your own. You should identify the title and author of the text/chapter you are summarizing at the beginning and use author tags periodically to indicate that you are summarizing (mention the author’s name, say things like “According to so-and-so…”). Also, use transitions to connect ideas and make the summary more coherent. Provide main points only, but in such a way that the reader of your summary has a general understanding of the original text. Also, be careful not to misrepresent the original. Sometimes students spend too much time on the summary and less on other sections; a summary of one of our chapters can be successfully done in 6-8 sentences, pretty much. QUESTIONS: List the questions that you have after reading the chapter/article. Are there particular things that you didn’t understand? What other questions are raised for you? (Notice the plural, meaning your response should include several questions.) Sometimes students ask questions here that are already asked by the text…but I don’t want to see questions that the chapter already asks; I would like to see questions here that you have about what the text discusses. QUOTES: Directly quote from the chapter. Which quotations really took your attention? Which quotations perplexed you? Which quotations did you particularly like or dislike (explain why)? Agree with or disagree with (explain why?) Provide some commentary on the quotes you choose. In doing so, do NOT simply paraphrase the quote (“This quote says that…” ) but provide commentary ON the quote. Discuss what it says and what you think about it. Choose at least 3 quotes for this section. I would like commentary on the quotes you choose…so don’t just say ” I really like this quote” or “I don’t like what the author says here”…tell me WHY; explain. Sometimes students misunderstand what is expected here and think they must quote material already quoted in the text (for example, students think they must find material in the text NOT written by the Rachels); you may quote anything from the text. Also, make sure to quote complete sentences and use quotation marks around quoted material. CONNECT: In what way can you connect this chapter to your own life experience? How do you connect it with other aspects of your college work? How does it connect to the other parts of this course? COMMENT: Write evaluative comments about the chapter. Was it good? Why? Was it not so good? Why? Provide any specific points or parts that you liked or disliked. Say why you liked or disliked them. These last two sections are where I really want to see what you think; these should be the longest sections of the paper….please explain thoroughly, discuss, react. This is a Sample of how the Protocol Paper should look like below: Sample Protocol Below is a Protocol Paper prepared over the required reading, “The Value of Philosophy,” by Bertrand Russell. This sample paper demonstrates how your protocol papers should look and the degree of development expected for each section of the protocol. You will use this as a guide for all protocol papers submitted throughout the course. Protocol Paper “The Value of Philosophy” Recall: In “The Value of Philosophy,” Russell makes several important points: 1) He suggests that many “practical” people view philosophy as rather useless because these people are – according to Russell – operating both with wrong conceptions about the ends of life and wrong conceptions about what goods philosophy strives to achieve; 2) The value in philosophy is in what it does for the person who studies it; 3) He makes the point that goods of the mind are as important in life as goods of the body; 4) The main value of philosophy is that it enlarges one’s thoughts, brings one into union with the “not-Self,” and helps us avoid being caught in narrowness as human beings; and, 5) The main idea is that philosophy is to be studied to enrich our intellects, diminish our dogmatism, and make us citizens of the universe. Summary: In the essay, “The Value of Philosophy,” Bertrand Russell presents the study of philosophy as a valuable undertaking, even though it does not directly help the whole world or increase one’s material wealth. The value is to be found for the student of philosophy herself or himself. According to Russell, this value is primarily found in the intellectual development that is available for those who undertake the study of philosophy. They can escape narrowness, dogmatism, and narrowness as they become citizens of the world, with enriched intellectual capacities. Quotes: N.B.: I have not provided commentary here in the sample paper but I expect it in yours. For further information, see the handout Protocol Paper Format. You should provide a quote, then your commentary, then another quote, followed by your commentary, and so on. “The man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason.” “. . . it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never traveled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.” “Philosophic contemplation does not, in its widest survey, divide the universe into two hostile camps — friends and foes, helpful and hostile, good and bad — it views the whole impartially.” “. . . greatness of soul is not fostered by those philosophies which assimilate the universe to Man.” Questions: How does Russell justify the claim that the widespread view that “man is the measure of all things” and that truth is man-made is incorrect? How is his idea that truth is not man-made fit with his avowed atheism? If Russell believes that it is better to be citizens of the universe and “not only of one walled city at war with all the rest,” then what would he say about loyalty to country or kind? Would Russell believe that there is a human attitude that is more lacking in human pride than the union of “Self and not-Self?” Connect : I can certainly connect this reading to my own life because all of my adult life I have been engaged in doing philosophy. I think that the value that Russell sees in philosophy has been born out in my own life. On the other hand, it can be also sometimes a little frustrating to see that so many people seem to believe that “getting and spending” is the most important thing in the universe. I think studying philosophy and opening up the mind requires that one be prepared and learn to cope with the dogmatism that one will invariably have to confront. I can connect this reading to the attitude of Socrates displayed in the Apology – more interested in excellence of the soul than in pursuing wealth, fame, prestige, etc. Comment : I liked this article. I thought it was very thought-provoking. It helps one to understand why anyone should be interested in studying questions that have no definite answers. I thought Russell’s writing and chain of reasoning were easy to follow. I did, however, think it was a little confusing to have this summary without having read the previous things he refers to. I would have liked also for Russell to be a little more specific about what he specifically means by “Not-Self” and “citizen of the universe.” I particularly liked the image of those who are afraid of philosophy and stuck in their own “set of prejudices, habits, and desires” as being like the man who never leaves the family circle for fear his word might not be law

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