Up@dawn 2.0

Friday, January 31, 2014

Berry Lectures at Vanderbilt

Please join us for the first in our 2014 series of Berry Lectures in Public Philosophy on Tuesday, February 11th in Buttrick Hall, Room 101.  The theme for this year’s series is Human Existence: Insights from Philosophy’s History.   The full schedule appears below. 

Our first speaker in the series is Professor Lenn Goodman.  His topic is “Two Ways to do Metaphysics without Really Trying: Aristotle and Avicenna on Being at Large.”  The lecture begins at 7:00pm, and will be preceded by a light reception at 6:30pm.  All are invited. 

Many Thanks,
--Robert Talisse
Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair


The Berry Lectures in Public Philosophy
Human Existence: Insights from Philosophy’s History

Tuesday, February 11
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
Lenn Goodman
Two Ways to do Metaphysics without Really Trying:
Aristotle and Avicenna on Being at Large

Tuesday, February 18
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
Julian Wuerth
What is Enlightenment?
Kant’s Copernican Revolution

Tuesday, February 25
7:00pm, Buttrick Hall, Room 101
David Wood
‘What does not kill me makes me stronger’:
Why we Still Read Kierkegaard and Nietzsche

Thursday, March 13
7:00pm, Wilson Hall, Room 126
José Medina
Love and Other Demons:
Wittgenstein and Skepticism

All Lectures are Free and Open to the Public
Sponsored by the Vanderbilt Philosophy Department with the Generous Support of the Berry Fund

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Group 2 - Section 12 - Jan. 29th Group Discussion

Our group met during the last few minutes of class, and we admittedly did not have much philosophy-based discussion. We mainly talked about our roles in the group, and we made the responsibilities of those roles clear for everyone.
We had a new group member (welcome!), so we brought him up to speed while everybody filled out their scorecards for the day.
By some incredible coincidence, Group 3 in one of the sections of this class has already taken the name Thunder Dragons.  I swear I came up with that on my own (lol).
So everybody get the reading done, and let's get some good questions posted.  I suppose we need a new choice of name as well.

Carpe diem!

Hello group one,

(being Kierra, Jamie, Ian, Stephanie, Erin, Grant, Tyler, and Mervat) First, let me apologize for not posting this yesterday. In retrospect I probably should have not been the author because I had a lot to do yesterday, but I just volunteered without thinking. My mistake. 

So yesterday (wednesday), after a long explanation of our baseball themed participation system, we discussed pages 3-13 of America the Philosophical by Carlin Romano. These introduction pages gave the backdrop for the theme of the book, which is that the rest of the world has an unfounded view that Americans lack in philosophical capability. Romano, and Dr. Oliver, were quick to point out that 'pragmatism,' a school of philosophy which values utility but differs from utilitarianism in that it does not adhere to classical Empiricism, was founded in the United states. Furthermore, Romano argues that the US has reached a pinnacle in philosophical understanding which far exceeds any other culture; for example, the ancient Greeks or 19th century Germans. 

We did not really have time to discuss anything in great detail, but I think this book is provacative and will lead to some interesting discussions. 

-Layton Switzer

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Group 2 (MW 4:10) - 1/29/14 - Intro to America the Philosophical

Hey everyone. John Connor Coulston here. I can't promise that this post will be as meme filled as Jasmine's but, I'll try to work on that, lol.

First off, I've noticed that the other groups have dope names. Currently, we don't have one of those, so we're still just Group 2. Next class let's decide on something cool like the Mighty Morphin Philosophy Rangers or something. 

Anywho, today in class we discussed the first ten pages of America the Philosophical by Carlin Romano. The focus of this discussion was that even though America isn't often seen as philosophical, Romano says we have "the most philosophical culture in the history of the world."
We also touched on the fact that most of us couldn't name an American philosopher. However, he can now name two- James and Oliver.

Hold on a sec, I think I figured out how to-

Awww yeah

As far as group activities, we figured out how to use the scorecard and divided the reading. In case you need a reminder of the assignments:
  • Little History of Philosophy - Socrates & Plato
  • Philosophy Bites Back - McCabes & Hobbes
  • America the Philosophical - pages 13-23
So yeah, I guess that's it. See everyone Monday.

- John Connor Coulston

Group 3 MWF 2:20

Today we did not get to talk about much due to only have roughly ten minutes to really talk. We figured out all our reading assignments and distributed them amongst the group. Do you think we should come up with a name like he suggested the first day? Also, I wanted to mention this to the whole group but did not get the chance to. We should all swap numbers or something. If any of you need mine it is 731-693-3648 I understand it;s not ideal to post it on the internet but do as you please.

Thank you,
Jay Mashburn

A New Name: "Philosorapters"

Today we discussed who should focus on what in the reading assignments, and came up with a new name for the group. Not much talking today due to time constraints , hopefully that will change in the near future. Our new group name is "The Philosorapters". If anyone can think of any other puns, feel free to post them in addition to any comments\links\quiz questions\discussion questions you think of.
Class 13->>>> THUNDER DRAGONS (3)

Class topic for the day:
How could you take a more philosophical approach to ones everyday thinking?
How Romano made the claim that America in the most philosophical country compared to other countries throughout the world. Oliver asked if before ending the class if we knew any American philosophers. This is what sparked a very small group discussion.

Some of our group mentioned that they disagreed with this statement of being the most philosophically educated country. The reason why I disagreed with Ramono was my lack of knowing any academic American philosophers.

More to come......

Daily Quiz

Jan 29

1. What 19th century French visitor said no country paid less attention to philosophy than the U.S.?

2. Where (according to Romano) is "the most philosophical culture in the history of the world"?

3. Who did the Christian Science Monitor call "the greatest existential philosopher ever?"

4. Which American philosopher cofounded the ACLU, and which helped turn psychology into its own discipline?

5. Venezuelan president Chavez borrowed what from whom, when visiting Cuba?

6. What Princeton philosopher wrote On Bullshit?

If you aced this, or if one of these is your FQ (even if slightly re-worded), give yourself an additional run - a Quiz Run (QR). But remember, you have to have circled the bases and scored your first run before you can add any QRs.
Also noteworthy in today's reading:

What flamboyant former basketballer and self-styled international diplomat was hyped by his publisher as in a league with Socrates and Confucius? (4)

What did the English Economist say about British and American philosophy? (8)

Is "Isocrates" a typo? (8)

Who is Cornel West? (9)

Who is Vaclav Havel? (9)

What is the Stone? (10)

What is Sophie's World? (12)

Why have some college philosophy programs been closed or threatened with elimination? (12)

Who is Matthew Lipman? (13)

What are some recent books that have argued against the idea of American culture as intellectually respectable? (13)

Carlin Romano at MTSU

November 8, 2013

Carlin Romano, inaugural Fall Lyceum lecturer

And also worth a look:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

George Carlin - American BuIIsh!t 2008

I saw this video and it made me think about what we were talking about in class. I agree that we as a civilized people should question things. Very funny video.

America The Philosophical Pg 3-13 Possible Quiz Question

______ ________ (famous former basketball player) was compared to Socrates, Confucius, and Chopra by a publishing house to hype a book deal. The comparison was done to gain publicity.

Peck Hall Group 3 MW 2:20

Hello Everyone,

So in class we went over the reading in the Philosophy Bites Back and attempted to answer some of the questions on the quiz. I don't know about you all, but I have a horrible memory so I was unable to get any of the answers right. We did go over our group introductions again and it was a pleasure hearing from all of you. I have to be honest, I have yet come to the understanding of what philosophy is and what exactly is expected of me in this class. Is it the way we live our life? Is it what we expect from life? or Why are why we are here and what is our purpose? Maybe some of you have a better understanding that you can share with the group.


Vagif Seidov

Monday, January 27, 2014

GROUP 2: Summary (KOM)

+ here is a gif.. I found it on Tumblr.... it's a "philosophical" cat, get it? Okay... So.. about this blogging business.. I'm still a little foggy on what I am supposed to do but I'm just going to take a little stab at it and hope you guys understand what I'm talking about. 

+ today, we broke into groups and right now we go by the alias "Group 2" but I hope that throughout this semester we can come up with something a tad more interesting than that. 

+ Dr. Phil,
discussed today who his favorite philosopher was and why, which was pretty interesting. I love hearing about why people choose their favorite, well.. anything. 

+ I think we all agree that the scorecard is a little confusing (unless you're a baseball person, which unfortunately, I am not) but I'm sure we will get a hang of it pretty quickly. 

+ towards the end of class, we discussed something about picking numbers.. To be completely honest, I forgot what we even said about the numbers but if (conner/connor/conor/however you spell it or jordan) is reading this.. comment below and let us know what exactly we were supposed to do with those numbers. (I apologize for all the blabbing... just look for one of their comments and we will figure out the whole topic on numbers).

+ I think that is enough for today.

+ I'll leave you with this question.. 
"To what extent do you shape your own destiny, & how much is down to fate?" 

-- Jasmine Keithley

Greetings Group 1!!

That means you, Kiki, Layton, Jaime, Ian, Erin, Grant, and Tyler. :) Ok, I'm going to try to "step up to the plate" with our group's first blog post. (Please forgive me if it's not perfect.) Basically, class today consisted of figuring out discussion groups and then learning about the score cards. Since we were just getting acquainted, we didn't get too deep into favorite philosophers or our own philosophical ideas, but feel free to share anything about that in the comments if you want. Also share your questions (factual/discussion) about the reading for Wednesday which is "America the Philosophical" pgs. 3-13. It was great meeting everyone, and I'm looking forward to an awesome semester together. :)

-Stephanie Byars

Group 2 Peck Hall 2:20 1st Summary

This is our first summary post of today's progress in our discussion groups. We were unable to come up with a clever name but were able to organize our roles as group members.

KOM Group One Initial Post

Hi Group 1!

 This is more of a test than a true summary. 
  I had some trouble hearing everyone (the tables maybe should be rearranged or something).
There wasn't a lot of talk within our group on who our favorite philosophers were, I think a lot of you are like me and don't really know many.  I offered to post a link to a general page on philosophers to see if we can't get a little background information on this class.

That was more difficult than I thought!

Maybe when we are done reading we can discuss some of that, I am still waiting on my book in the mail so we will see if I can be very active in that discussion or not.
If anyone wants to talk about the reading from last time, I think that would be beneficial also.

Group 3 summary- thunder dragons

Why did certain people choose the philophers they chose as their favorite philosophers?

Daily Quiz


1. Who came out first in the informal Philosophy Bites poll?

2. Who did Noel Carroll & others select, for his naturalistic & teleological approach? (HINT: an ancient Greek who was not Plato.)

3. Who did Jonathan Glover pick, "because he invented the whole thing"? (HINT: again, not Plato.)

4. Brian Leiter picks "Fred" ______, "a great writer... right more than wrong" about most things. (HINT: a 19th-century German with a big moustache.)

5. Several respondents picked ____ ________ ____, a 19th-century British utilitarian, an exponent of liberty who overcame a high-pressure childhood and mental collapse, and spoke up early for women's rights. (HINT: one of his supporters is current chair of the Vandy philosphy department.)

6. Jonathan Wolfff picks _____ ____, a Scot who wrote A Treatise of Human Nature at age 26. (HINT: same as #1)

Monday, January 13, 2014


Let's introduce ourselves, Spring 2014 CoPhilosophy collaborators (I'll tell you in class Wednesday why I call the Intro class "CoPhilosophy").

I invite you all to hit "comment" and reply by posting your own introductions, and to ruminate as well in response to any or all of these questions:
What is philosophy? How do you think it differs from religion, science, and other generalized approaches to understanding our place in the universe? Do you like to think "deeply" about things? Why or why not? Do you think you are entitled to believe whatever you please, for any reason or for none? Have you had any experiences, heard any music, seen any films (etc.)  that impacted or influenced you in a way you'd call philosophical? Do you have any favorite philosophers, living or dead? Are YOU a philosopher? Do you have a personal philosophy of life that you can summarize in a few words?
Our first class meeting will consist mainly of introductions. We'll not spend much time going over the syllabus or talking course mechanics, there's plenty of time for that later. But I do invite you to peruse the Quick Start Guide, Daily Participation Scorecard, and Syllabus page links on our course blogsite (in the right margin). Let me know what's especially unclear.

I'm Dr. Oliver, aka James P., aka Phil, aka (despite my best efforts to discourage it) "Dr. Phil." I live in Nashville with my wife, younger daughter, two dogs (Angel and Lilli), and a cat named Zeus. Older Daughter is a college freshman a couple hundred miles away.

My office is in James Union Building 307-B. Office hours are MW 1-2,TTh 4-5, & by appointment.. On nice days, office hours will be outdoors (my door will direct you). 

I've been at MTSU for over a decade, teaching philosophy courses on diverse subjects including atheism, childhood, happiness, the environment, the future, and bioethics.

My birthday is Feb.14, we'll observe it on the 12th: bring cake and candy to class that day. Also a cure for aging if you've got it. (Last year someone brought biscuits and jam from the Loveless. That helped.)

My Ph.D. is from Vanderbilt. I'm originally from Missouri, near St. Louis. I was indoctrinated as a Cardinals fan in early childhood. My undergrad degree is from Mizzou, in Columbia MO. (I wish my schools weren't in the SEC-I don't approve of major collegiate sports culture or of violence in football, but don't get me started.)

My philosophical expertise, such as it is, centers on the American philosophical tradition of William James. Last year a student asked me to respond to a questionnaire. I did, and have continued to reflect on its excellent questions. "It was an honor..."

I post my thoughts regularly to my blogs Up@dawn and Delight Springs, among others, and toTwitter. Follow me if you want to. But of course, as Brian Cohen said, you don't have to follow anyone. (Extra credit if you get that reference... and real extra credit if you realize that my "extra credit" is usually rhetorical.)

Enough about me. Who are you? (Where are you from, where have you been, what do you like, who do you want to become,...?) Why are you here? (On Earth, in Tennessee, at MTSU, in philosophy class)? What intrinsic or voluntary meaning does your existence entail or imply? What are your thoughts on the other questions posed at the beginning of this post?

Hit "comments" below and post your introduction, then read your classmates'... and bear in mind that this is an open site. The world can read it. (The world's probably busy with other stuff, of course.)