Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quiz Jan 19

Write your answers down on a sheet of paper, we'll go over this in class. You can claim a base on the scorecard for each correct answer, and a run for every four bases (up to 5 runs per class). Also claim a base for each posted alternate quiz question, discussion question, comment, or relevant link. Keep track of everything you post in a dated personal log that will be collected later. Claim a RUN for posting a weekly 250+ word essay on the relevant topic of your choice.

1. What approach to the story of philosophy does Anthony Gottlieb say he aims to take in The Dream of Reason?

2. When was western science created?

3. How did William James define philosophy?

4. What's distinctive about philosophical thinking?

5. What is the sequel to The Dream of Reason?

DQ (Discussion Questions):
  • What's your definition of "philosophy"? 
  • Do you have a favorite philosopher? 
  • Can you summarize your current, personal philosophy of life? 
  • Russell * says philosophy occupies the No Man's Land between science and theology (xiii). Are scientists and theologians not philosophical? Or are they philosophical in a way different from Russell's? Do you like his definition of philosophy? Are you philosophical, by his definition?
  • Is your duty to God more imperative than your duty to the state, to your fellow citizens, or to humanity? xvi
  • Does Copernican astronomy influence your personal philosophy? How? (Or, why not?) xviii
  • Do you acknowledge the authority of any individuals or institutions to interpret the truth for you? WHy or why not? xx
  • [I invite you to post your comments on these, and to post your own DQs as well. Keep track in your personal log of everything you post. You get to claim another base on the scorecard for each posted comment, DQ, relevant link, or alternative quiz question you can document.]

Also recommended: Look on the This I Believe website for essays you like, and post links to them; TIB II William James, Pragmatism lecture 1; WATCH:What's Philosophy for? School of Life (SoL). LISTEN: What is Philosophy?and Who's Your Favourite Philosopher?(PB Philosophy Bites)
* "Philosophy" is a word which has been used in many ways,
some wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will now try to explain. Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something inter- mediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable ; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge so I should contend belongs to science ; all dogma as to what surpasses definite know- ledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attack from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy. Almost all the questions of most interest to speculative minds are such as science cannot answer, and the confident answers of theologians no longer seem so con- vincing as they did in former centuries. Is the world divided into mind and matter, and, if so, what is mind and what is matter? Is mind subject to matter, or is it possessed of independent powers ? Has the universe any unity or purpose? Is it evolving towards some goal ? Are there really laws of nature, or do we believe in them only because of our innate love of order ? Is man what he seems to the astronomer, a tiny lump of impure carbon and water impotently crawling on a small and unimportant planet ? Or is he what he appears to Hamlet ? Is he perhaps both at once ? Is there a way of living that is noble and another that is base, or are all ways of living merely futile? If there is a way of living that is noble, in what does it consist, and how shall we achieve it? Must the good be eternal in order to deserve to be valuc'd, or is it worth seeking even if the universe is inexorably moving toward? death ?

-Russell's History of Western Philosophy
An old post:

Who's your favorite philosopher?

That's the Philosophy Bites question we take up today in CoPhi. If you think it puts Descartes before the horse you can visit What is Philosophy? first. (That was the first bad phil-pun I heard, btw, from a perky Scot called Cogan on my first day of Grad School back in 1980. Not the last. It was already an old joke.)

We don't all agree on what philosophy is. Not even we "Americanists," amongst ourselves. But we try to disagree agreeably. A little post-HAP 101 exchange between a pair of students once threatened for a moment to become disagreeable (unlike the class itself, which was thrilling in its impassioned civility). Almost made 'em watch the Argument Clinic. "An argument isn't just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes," etc. etc. But I don't want to argue about that.

Maybe a round of Bruces would be welcome today, simultaneously introducing several stars of philosophy, teaching us how to pronounce "Nietzsche" (and mispronounce "Kant") and disabusing anyone who falsely presumes our subject to be overly sober and serious about itself. If any doubt about that persists, just drop in on the Philosophy Club's Thursday Happy Hour - not that I'd want to reinforce the spurious conceit that philosophers are drunks. G'day.

I don't have a "favourite"... but my favorite (as I've already told my classes, on Day #1) is of

course William James.I don't always agree with him, but I almost always want to know he'd say about the topic du jour.

Philosophy, beginning in wonder, as Plato and Aristotle said, is able to fancy everything different from what it is. It sees the familiar as if it were strange, and the strange as if it were familiar. It can take things up and lay them down again. Its mind is full of air that plays round every subject. It rouses us from our native dogmatic slumber and breaks up our caked prejudices. SPP

My favorite living philosopher is John Lachs. He came for a visit last year, to my CoPhi classes.

It's no surprise that David Hume outpolls everyone on the podcast, given its Anglo-centric tilt, or that Mill and Locke pick up several votes. They're all on my short list too, as is Bertrand Russell (who definitely knew the value of philosophy).

I notice that my Vandy friend Talisse is one of the handful of Americans here, and he, like Martha Nussbaum, picks Mill. Sandel picks Hegel.) Other big votegetters: Aristotle, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein.

No surprise either that James, Dewey, Peirce, Santayana, Rawls, and other prominent Yanks don't win wide favor across the pond. (But I hear the Rawls musical has been a hit with the Brits.)

I did hear an English philosopher praising James once, on the BBC's excellent "In Our Time." But generally they prefer William's "younger, shallower, vainer" (and more Anglophilic) brother Henry, who lived most of his adult life in Sussex.

The British roots of American thought do run deep, and the branches of reciprocal influence spread wide. Stay tuned for info on our Study Aboard course, as it moves from drawing board to future reality.

Why do I find WJ so compelling? Hard to put my finger on a single reason, there are so many. I was first drawn to him through his marvelous personal letters. Then, his essays ("On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings," "The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life," "What Makes a Life Significant") and lectures-cum-books (Varieties of Religious Experience, Pragmatism, A Pluralistic Universe). His warm, charming, playful, disarming, sympathetic personality shone through all. He was so great at tossing off wit, profundity, and practical wisdom with seeming effortlessness and concision. A born tweeter. But his health, physical and emotional, was a lifelong challenge. He expended vast effort to become William James.

Honestly, the best explanation for why I became a lifelong student of, and stroller with, WJ may just be that little moment in the Vandy bookstore back in my first year of grad school - the moment when my new mentor John Compton noticed me browsing the McDermott anthology o fThe Writings. John's warm and enthusiastic familiarity with "Willy James" hooked me. Thank you, John.

The thing James said that's stuck with me longest and made the most lasting impression, I think, is the little piece of youthful advice he once wrote to a despondent friend. I'm not quite sure why, but it lifts my mood every time I think of it:

Remember when old December's darkness is everywhere about you, that the world is really in every minutest point as full of life as in the most joyous morning you ever lived through; that the sun is whanging down, and the waves dancing, and the gulls skimming down at the mouth of the Amazon, for instance, as freshly as in the first morning of creation; and the hour is just as fit as any hour that ever was for a new gospel of cheer to be preached. I am sure that one can, by merely thinking of these matters of fact, limit the power of one's evil moods over one's way of looking at the cosmos.

Is this true? Maybe. Is it useful? Definitely.

We're also looking today at Nigel Warburton's introduction to Philosophy: The Basics.(5th ed., 2013), in which he quite rightly points out that while philosophy can help you think about who you are and why you're here - about the meaning of your life - it isn't an alternative to other fields of study. "It is important not to expect too much of philosophy," to the neglect of literature and history and science and art, et al.

That's right. But it's equally important not to expect too little of yourself, and to think you're not up to the challenge of an examined life. To repeat Professor James's empowering declaration: "I know that you, ladies and gentlemen, have a philosophy, each and all of you, and that the most interesting and important thing about you is the way in which it determines the perspective in your several worlds." If you don't all know that yet, CoPhilosophers, we'd better get to work. Serious fun, dead ahead. 8.27.14


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. 9 - My personal definition of philosophy was just thinking outside the box. Not thinking what you were told to think but rather what you wanted to think instead.

    My favorite philosopher is John Locke, not because I like anything he said, but because a character from Lost was named after him.

  3. Heather Deal4:23 PM CST

    Quiz Question:
    Which nineteenth-century German mathematician did research on the subject of infinity?

  4. 9- My favorite philosopher is Ralph Waldo Emerson. I used one of his quotes in my Valedictorian speech in high school- "Do not go where the path my lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail". This quote constantly reminds me that you don't have to follow the footsteps or opinions that others establish, but you can do what you feel is impressionable and leave your own mark in a different way.

    1. Quiz Question:
      Which three philosophers are often lumped together as a trio?

  5. Heather Deal4:46 PM CST

    Answer to Discussion Question #3 (Section 9)
    "Can you summarize your current, personal philosophy of life?"
    My personal philosophy in life is to continue to give and accept love from those around me and to always pursue happiness no matter what hardships are thrown my way.

  6. Heather Deal4:55 PM CST

    9- My definition of Philosophy is that it's a way of diverse thinking which helps to make sense of things around you and to keep an open mind about theories termed by others.

  7. 8.
    I define philosophy as thinking critically in a way most people do not.
    My favorite philosopher is Anthony Gottiem because he is the only one who I have read anything about.
    My personal philosophy is to strive for your dreams and help others who need help.

  8. Devin Willis6:24 PM CST

    8-Devin Willis
    I define philosophy as the love of studying and thinking against the norms of society.

  9. 10.
    I define philosophy as trying to look at things objectively and not letting bias interfere with your thinking, much like scientists try to do.
    My favorite philosopher who is considered a naturalist would be Charles Darwin because he actually went out and observed natural processes in order to support evolution even though many people thought that his thinking was wrong. He's not what everyone would consider a philosopher but I feel that he meets all the criteria.
    My personal philosophy is to try to come to an understanding of new information and other people's perspectives in order to improve my own logic.

  10. 9.
    My definition of philosophy is when you can look at something that everyone can see but you take away from it what very few have. it is an unconventional way of thinking.
    Alan Watts is my favorite philosopher. I started to listen to his speeches back when I was stationed in Germany to get me motivated for the day.
    My philosophy for life it to keep an open mind about everything, you wont always have the answers and you shouldn't act like you do. Search for ways to improve everything you do no matter how small.

  11. 9- I define philosophy as the way we think about things.
    My personal philosophy is to do my best so I can't blame myself for anything.
    Yes my duty to God is more imperative.
    -Ivana Deveaux

  12. 8- My definition of philosophy would be the wonder of life and things that make life meaningful and gaining a deeper understanding for those things.

    I currently do not have a favorite philosopher, but I am sure that will change by the end of this semester.

    My current philosophy of life summarized would be to stay humble and hungry. I think it is important to be a humble person, but also just as important to hunger for knowledge and success.

  13. 8- Philosophy, to me, is the thoughts provoked by "thought provoking questions." In other words, it is the way your mind reacts to certain things and the opinions you for about these things. It is the thought process of forming these opinions. It is understanding why your thoughts work the way they do. This all sounds very vague because it is. I am hoping to have a better grasp on my definition of philosophy by the end of this course.

    I don't currently have a favorite philosopher who is really known as a philosopher. I do like to think of many of my favorite authors as philosophers, such as Toni Morrison. I wouldn't say he is my favorite, but Albert Camus fascinates me.

    I am still in the process of discovering my philosophy of life.

    I do not believe in a god, so I do not feel a duty to toward him/her/it.

    - Lucy Haston

  14. Anonymous12:29 AM CST

    10. Yonathan Feleke

    I define philosophy as a way of asking questions to understand how to explain what is not tangible or what can't be quantified.

    Although I don't have a favorite philosopher right now, I've admired Zera Yacob just because he was questions what it means to be a believer at a time where it was taboo to think such way.

  15. Rafael Lopez-9
    I believe philosophy is the study of knowledge and trying to understand it.

  16. section 8 - Kate Archer
    My definition of philosophy is that is does not have a universal definition! I believe that it has to do with making yourself whole in the mind, finding your own peace, balance, and happiness, and of course that is a unique path and experience for everyone!
    I don't have a favorite philosopher as I don't believe I know very many. I am excited to find a favorite that speaks to me through this course!
    My current personal philosophy is that I can make my life to be what ever I choose. The power to change or better my life is completely my own, and I enjoy sharing the journey with like-minded people. I don't think there is one answer or path to happiness, or the good life, I think everyone is on their own journey.

    I was skimming through This I Believe II and I found it fascinating. On page 41, David Buetow shared that he believed in his dog, his dog’s way of life, his simple bliss. I loved that. I often feel the same way about my dog too. I am looking forward to reading the book thoroughly, I think it will be eye-opening!

  17. Section 8 - Kate Archer
    The philosophy bites are a wonderful listen for a long commute to campus! I particularly enjoyed the mini-interviews with many people being asked the same question - what is philosophy? Almost every answer was different, which matched my own feelings on what philosophy is, it's something unique to each person that decides to ask the questions, think the thoughts, and challenge themselves to discover and find more - in their minds and their lives. It was a great listen.

    This I Believe is a site I am familiar with. I took and english course that spent a lot of time there, analyzing and discussing essays, and eventually writing our own. It is difficult to put into rods your beliefs, and I myself didn't realize that until I sat down to do it. I find many of the essays there inspiring, especially this one (from Mohandas K. Gandhi!!):

  18. 9- My personal definition of philosophy is the way in which we question, research, study, and think about all of life- both the widely accepted ideas and the ideas that seem more crazy.

  19. Kylan Stribling12:20 PM CST

    I define philosophy as the study of reason, human thought processes, and how to live peacfully

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. 10- My definition of philosophy is looking at something that everyone does or looks at, but understanding/looking at it from a different perspective. My personal philosophy is that we should loved as he loved, walked as he walked, and be a walking image of him. Not condemning one another but loving one another.

  22. 10- Philosophy to me, is questioning everything, because everything needs to be questioned. Without questioning anything we know nothing. I also find it interesting that Philosophy contains some of the most logical ways of thinking I've ever experienced.
    I don't know many philosophers, although I am intrigued by Plato and his "Allegory of the Cave."

  23. Hey guys,
    We talked in class today about how free thinking is about not having any set beliefs /certainty about any particular thing like that God created the world, or even that there is no God. I am curious though, in order to form ideas and/or questions, I think that you have to have a certain level of knowledge of things like science, religion, culture, etc. I think it would be good to have a discussion on the fine line between blindly believing what we are taught in school, and thinking freely/forming "unanswerable" questions. Is there a balance? Is it important to find that balance? Is there such thing as enough knowledge to form questions? Do you need knowledge to form questions? I think this could potentionaly be an interesting discussion worth our time.

  24. 10 - philosophy is the study of wisdom, and questioning everything. My favorite philosophy is Plato. My favorite quote was "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." It tells me that always be kind to everyone because everyone is dealing with problems and never you know.

  25. Section 008-To me, "philosophy" is the way one looks at the world and the knowledge therein. While I don't have a favorite philosopher, I do owe credit to the ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Plato, as well as my friend Spencer who is a philosophy major at UT Martin, for peaking my interest in philosophy. The best way I can summarize my philosophy in life, apart from being a Christian, is that we must all be kind to one another, and that we must also seek all of the joys and pleasures we can find in life, so that we may achieve the ultimate goal before we go to Heaven: peace within our souls. In a way, they are because they both seek out knowledge to answer their great questions in life, however some scientists strictly use cold, hard facts for answers and do not think or look outside of the cold facts for answers. Thinking about his definition, I can agree that this is an accurate term for philosophy and am thus philosophical.
    Is my duty to God more imperative than my duty to the state, to my fellow citizens, or to humanity? That is a difficult question to answer, for as a Christian I must serve and praise God, yet I also believe that performing acts of kindness to the people is just as important. As far as Copernican astronomy goes, it has no effect on my philosophy, as it has been proven by studies, charts, and even satellite images, that the sun is the center of our solar system, and thus doesn't alter or affect my religious or philosophical views. I do not accept any truths anyone chooses for me. Though I was raised Methodist, I came to an age where I could choose to accept or deny Christianity, and I have come to have my own religious views without any pastor, instructor, or person of higher power, to create for me.
    -Latham Crihfield

  26. Taylor Ray10:54 PM CST

    10- I would define philosophy as basically the study of knowledge and perspective. It is questioning the unknown and knowing that there isn't a proven answer for everything. In order to understand it, you have to know that the possibilities to this world are endless and there's much more to life than we know.

  27. Kylan Stribling11:21 AM CST

    My favorite philosopher is Socrates because he attempted to define ethical concepts, and i find ethical concepts the most interesting about philosophy.

  28. 10-
    "Is your duty to God more imperative than your duty to the state, to your fellow citizens, or to humanity?"

    Personally, I'm working through what I believe about this question. However, as a kid who grew up in a very devout christian home, I think my duty to God enables me to better serve my state, my fellow citizens, and humanity. Loving God encourages me to be kind, respectful of other people's beliefs and religions, and to honor my country through being a good citizen. So, yes, I guess my duty to God is more imperative, however I believe that the God I serve is loving and gracious, and thus that spills over into all areas of life.

  29. (What is Philosophy?)
    First part of my essay...
    When I think about philosophy and its implications on life, it makes me think about a worldview. Without a thought on the world and its origins or existence or what governs the universe wether it be fate, destiny, super natural powers, luck, or whatever determines how you see the world or how to treat other people or live your own life I don't feel like you can form what I would think as a philosophy. So then, I guess a philosophy would be how you see the world around you and how you live your life and treat others accordingly.

    So a worldview... if you believe that there is an afterlife of any sort, you may want to do good in this life as to gain some sort of favor and thus get a better form/version of said afterlife. While on the other side of this coin, if you don't believe in an afterlife, your lifestyle and thus treatment of other people in your life would be drastically different.

    This aspect of your Philosophy would be very important to nail down, because it would determine how you treat other people and over all live your life. If there is nothing else after this life, for example, why would you be generous? Why would you give of your precious time to people who are lazy and are not motivated to life their life to the fullest? You would just live life in the moment, and try to make your own life the greatest it can be, without caring if you destroy someone else's life in the process of bring you success, happiness, or satisfaction.

    Other questions I would lump into the idea of philosophy could be: Are people fundamentally bad? Are we equal or different? Are we fundamentally good?

    If you believe in an afterlife of any sort, chances are that you will live a "good" life because of you don't, you will be punished in some way. If not punished, then you will decide that the afterlife will not be as rewarding if you do not live a good life, or treat others with respect and kindness/grace. You will try your best to live the best life that you can, but you will most likely fail and you will not get the perfect afterlife because you are of course not perfect.

    When you are seeking wisdom, as philosophy suggests, you will answer the questions of life differently depending on how you r worldview affects the way you see people or the world. Thoughts like murder, death, sexuality, marriage, gender, government, school etc. will have different meaning you based on how you see the universe and the powers or lack of that control it.

    Philosophy to me is how you see the word around you, and how your thoughts of life and society develop a lifestyle that you live in respect to the world, and the people living in it with you in regards to things like relationships and choices you make along the way.

  30. What is my Philosophy?)

    With my earlier comment in mind, my philosophy is that of seeing the world that I live in as fundamentally creation. If the world is creation, then there must be a creator. I believe in the creation story of the Bible. I believe in God who created the world that we live in and the universe that surrounds it. A God who created man in His own image and who created all men equal in his sight "with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". I believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who taught on earth to love our neighbor, the widow, the orphan, and to give to others generously. I believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that he came in human form, lived a perfect life, died a painful death that he didn't deserve, and rose to life that through faith in him we may have eternal life with him forever.

    The difference from what other world views saw, and what I believe is that rather than living a life marked by Kindness, Love, truthfulness, and generosity in order to EARN a better "afterlife", the good news of the
    FREE GIFT of eternal life through Jesus Christ DRIVES me to joyfully live the way that I live.

    The world that we live in is a broken world, but I believe that without the spirit of who believe to be the living God, there would be no goodness, no peace, no love, no thankfulness, no mercy, no light in the darkness of a sinful world.

    I know I am a broken person. I screw up every day. But the God that I follow forgives sins, and is gracious to me even though I don't deserve it. And because of that my search for wisdom is looking at everyone as creations made in the image of God, fundamentally equal, and loved.

    Because of that, I consider everyone higher than myself, and that I can learn every day from them. And that makes my search for wisdom a wonderful journey.