Up@dawn 2.0


The syllabus is a constant work-in-progress, subject to change at the last minute; always consult the "Next" section in the upper right corner of our Homepage (cophilosophy.blogspot.com) for the latest revisions and other announcements.

PHILOSOPHY 1030-Introduction to Philosophy
(aka "CoPhilosophy," in Oliver's sections. We take a peripatetic approach, wear comfortable shoes.)

Wtr/Spg 2018 Sections: #3 TTh 09:40-11:05 BAS-S330; #8 TTh 01:00-02:25 LRC-208

Dr. Phil Oliver, phil.oliver@mtsu.edu - (615) 898-2907, 525-7865 (call this number only during office hours). NOTE: don't bother trying to contact me via D2L: we're not using it.

OFFICE HOURS: TTh 11:15-12:45 and by appointment, James Union Building (JUB) 300. NOTE: On nice days office hours may be outside, check my office door for details. FYI: I reply to email mainly during office hours, but not at all on weekends. Best way to insure a prompt reply to any query: call or come in during office hours or designated appointment time.

The purpose of our course is to introduce some of the leading topics and figures of (mostly western) philosophy, with both a thematic and historical approach, and to help students discover and articulate their own philosophical ideas in a collegial and cooperative spirit. Our classroom emphasis is on collaboration: we'll be conversing, listening, and “putting our heads together” in group research and discussion both in the classroom and, in the peripatetic fashion, all around campus. See more on this at the course blogsite “CoPhilosophy": www.cophilosophy.blogspot.com.

Achieving our purpose will entail asking lots of questions and conversing about them, argumentatively but not disagreeably... supporting claims with reasons, listening thoughtfully and respectfully to one another, expressing our views amicably and hearing others’ views receptively. It is possible-- in a functional democracy it really is essential-- to share and contest differing views respectfully and in good faith. As a political culture we've not been doing such a good job of that lately. But why, after all, would you have come to college and enrolled in a philosophy course if you weren't prepared to entertain unfamiliar points of view?

Among the central, perennial preoccupations of philosophy in its pursuit of wisdom is the crucial importance of honesty and truthfulness about what's real. In our historical moment, with so much casual talk of "alternative facts" and so much documented daily dishonesty in the executive branch of our federal government, truth and reality seem under seige. Hence, the focus in our course (anchored by Fantasyland) - on how we got here.

REQUIRED for Spring 2018:

I also recommend books/resources listed below. You may wish to use one or more of them, or some other text you find (and I approve), as the basis of your midterm group or final solo report.

    Also see "More books" in our blogsite sidebar... and look for more in the Philosophy stacks on the 2d floor of our library.
T16 - [no class, due to weather]

Introduce yourself in class and online (before next class) by replying to "Introductions" on our blogsite at http://cophilosophy.blogspot.com/ & read classmates' introductions. Answer two questions (bearing in mind that this is an open site): Who are you? and Why are you here (in school, in a philosophy class, in middle Tennessee... whatever you'd like to share)?

Th 18 – What's your definition of "philosophy"? Do you have a favorite philosopher? Can you summarize your current, personal philosophy of life? And: if you read Hillbilly Elegy, post a comment on it. Introduction, DR. FL1-2
     Also recommended: Look on the This I Believe website for essays you like, and post links to them; TIB IIWilliam 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)

T23-Peripatetic philosophy. Gymnasiums of the Mind [link]. FL 3-4
     Also recommended: Read these old poststhis onePale Blue Dot, & TIB II ; look on the This I Believe website for essays you like, and post links to them; WATCH: Pale Blue Dot (Sagan) LISTEN: Why explorling space still matters (Tyson).

Th25 - Milesians and Pythagoreans, DR 1-2; FL 5-6

T30 - Heraclitus, Parmenides, and Zeno DR 3-5; FL 7-8

Th1 - Empedocles and Anaxagoras, DR 6-7; FL 9-10

T6 - Democritus and the Sophists, DR 8-9; FL 11-12; Identify midterm report groups, topics

Th8 - Socrates and the Socratics, DR 10; FL 13-14
Also recommended: LISTEN M.M. McCabe on Socratic Method & Angie Hobbs on Plato on Erotic Love (PB); WATCH: Know ThyselfDiotima's Ladder: From Lust to MoralityPlato (SoL)

T13 - The Man Who Asked Questions, LH 1; Plato, DR 11; FL 15-16. Midterm group reports begin

Th15 - True Happiness, LH 2; FL 17-18

T20 - Aristotle, DR 12; FL 19-20
Also recommended: WATCH: Aristotle on Flourishing: How to Live a Good Life? LISTEN: Aristotle & flourishing; How Do I Live a Good Life? (HIp); Terence Irwin on Aristotle's Ethics (PB).

Th22 - The Garden Path, Learning Not to Care, LH 4-5; FL 21

 T27 -  Epicureans and Stoics, DR 13 (293-336); FL 22; EXAM 1
Also recommended: WATCH Epicurus (SoL); Epicurus on HappinessThe Stoics (SoL);  LISTEN Epicureanism (IOT); Epicurus the greatest philosopher? (IOT); Seneca & facing death (HI)

Th1 - We Know Nothing, LH 3; Sceptics, DR 13 (336-357); FL 23-24

Spring Break

T 13- Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, DR 14 (358-390); FL 25-26

Anselm Who Is Pulling Our Strings?; The Consolation of Philosophy; and The Perfect Island LH 6-8; FL 27-28
Also recommended: WATCH Augustine (SoL); LISTEN Neuroscience & free will (HI); Boethius (LH); Consolation of Philosophy tba; LISTEN Religious freedom as constraint (HI); WATCH: Boethius & Philosophy

Th 15 - Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, DR 14 (390-425); FL 29-30
Also recommended: WATCH Aquinas & 1st Cause (HI) LISTEN Anthony Kenny on Aquinas' Ethics (PB)

T 20 - The Renaissance, DR 15;  The Fox and the Lion and Nasty Brutish and Short, LH 9-10; DE 2; FL 31-32
Also recommended: WATCH Hobbes on freedom & security (HI) LISTEN Quentin Skinner on Machiavelli's The Prince, Quentin Skinner on Hobbes on the State (PB); Hobbes & civil disobedience (HI)

Th 22 - Montaigne, Descartes, & Pascal, LH 11-12; DE 1; FL 33-34
 Also recommended: (How to Live, ch1); LISTEN Sarah Bakewell on Michel de Montaigne (PB); A.C. Grayling on Descartes' Cogito (PB); WATCH Montaigne (SoL); Descartes (HI)

T 27 - Spinoza, Locke, & Reid, LH 13-14; DE 3-4; FL 35-36
Also recommended: LISTEN Susan James on Spinoza on the Passions (PB)

Th 29 - Berkeley, Leibniz, Hume, & Rousseau, LH 15-18; DE 5-8; FL 37
 Also recommended: John Campbell on Berkeley's Puzzle (PB); Locke on personal identity (HI); WATCH The Is/Ought Problem. LISTEN Peter Millican on Hume's SignificanceMelissa Lane on Rousseau on Civilization (PB); Hume & the philosophy of good taste (HI); Hume (IOT); Hume the greatest philosopher? (IOT)

T 3 - Kant, Bentham, Hegel, Schopenhauer LH 19-23; FL 38-39
Also rec: WATCH Kant's Axe (HI); LISTEN Adrian Moore on Kant's Metaphysics (PB); LISTEN Robert Stern on Hegel on Dialectic (PB)

Th 5 - NO CLASS. Assignment tba

T 10 - Mill, Darwin, Kierkegaard, Marx LH 24-27; FL 40-41
Also rec: WATCH Mill's harm principlePaley & the divine watchmaker (HI); LISTEN Richard Reeves on Mill's On Liberty (PB); WATCH Marx (SoL); Marx on alienation (HI); Humans, Apes, & Linnaeus; Evolution & Beauty (HI)

Th12 - Peirce & James, Nietzsche, Freud LH 28-30; FL 42-43
Also rec: LISTEN Angie Hobbs on beauty & goodness (HI); WATCH Nietzsche (SoL); LISTEN: Aaron Ridley on Nietzsche on Art and Truth (PB); Jung & the mind (HI)

T 17 - Russell, Ayer, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus LH 31-33; FL 44-45

Th 19- Wittgenstein, Arendt, Popper & Kuhn, Foot & Thomson  LH 34-37; FL 46

T 24 - Rawls, Turing & Searle, Singer LH 38-40; Last class, top 3 run-leaders declared,

Exam #3; 1st final solo report blog post due; Turn in personal log

MAY 2- 2d final solo report blog post due from non-exemptees

MAY 14 - grade queries welcome


& grades, Spring 2018-
  • attendance and participation, which we'll track in personal logs and on a daily "scorecard" and reward with "bases" and "runs" whose final tally will contribute to final grade (4 bases = 1 run, earn up to 5 runs per class... but you have to come to class to get on base and score runs.
  • short daily quizzes, worth one base per correct answer
  • a short (200+ words) weekly essay posted to the class blogsite - worth 4 bases (1 run)
  • a longer (1,000+ words) final essay posted to the class blogsite in two installments, first installment due by last regular class, second installment due-date tba (but, three top runs leaders may do just one 1,000 word post)... worth up to 20 runs... link to your first installment and to at least two comments on classmates' first final report installments
  • Three 20-question exams based on the quizzes, worth one run per correct answer
  • comments on classmates' final reports (each comment on classmates' reports earns a base)
  • PARTICIPATION is the single largest grading factor: you can earn up to 5 participation "runs" per class, via attendance, quizzes, discussion, and posts to this site. Relevant comments, links, and questions for discussion or the quiz posted before class each earn a base. Be sure to post comments on the group discussions you participate in.
  • Collaborative MIDTERM GROUP REPORT PRESENTATIONS (2-3 reporters to a group, 10-20 minutes), worth up to 20 runs. Include quiz & discussion questions on your report topic. Possible topics include any pre-Descartes philosopher, one of the recommended texts, Stone or This I Believe essay(s)...
  • FINAL SOLO REPORTS (1,000 words) in two blog post installments, including relevant graphics, videos, and links) are also worth up to 20 runs. Possible topics include any post-Descartes philosopher, further development of midterm report topic, a StoryCorps interview/essay, or an imaginary dialogue between yourself and one or two philosophers.
The top three run-scorers of the semesterare exempt from a second final report installment (but may still post for extra credit).

Presentations, like group discussions, will follow the peripatetic model whenever weather permits. So, post all supplemental and supportive multimedia material on our site in advance and be prepared to report like a peripatetic, in the open air.

Count your total bases each class and divide by 4, to determine your daily runs total. Keep track of any extra bases in your personal log, they don't carry over and accumulate (just as runners left on base after the third out each inning don't get to score, but are "stranded") but they do impress the teacher.

PHONE POLICY. It should go without saying, but for some does not: put your phone away during class. Participate. If you cannot comply with this, you'll be asked to leave and will be marked absent.

MAKE-UP POLICY. You cannot earn bases or runs from the quizzes on days when you are not present, but you can submit extra-credit blog posts of 500 words (minimum) on topics covered when you were absent, worth up to three runs, to be posted within one week of the class date you missed. Log the date you missed and the date when you posted. You can then claim 3 make-up runs on the scorecard for the day you missed, unless I tell you otherwise.


FAQ-How do you grade?

"Well, I add up the grades for the essays, quizzes, the midterm and final. I average them out. Then I consult my stomach."
That's how someone else puts it. Here's how I do:

Those with the most RUNS are guaranteed an A. If you finish within the 90th percentile of the 3d-highest run scorer, you're safe at the plate.

Others will probably also receive A's based on exceptional report and exam scores and participation.

You get a BASE for every correct daily QUIZ answer, every posted comment, discussion question, alternate quiz question, relevant link, etc.), a RUN for every four BASES, a RUN for each weekly essay (250+ words), a RUN for each correct answer on the three EXAMS, and up to 20 RUNS on each of the two REPORTS. The maximum possible runs per class is 5. Top run-scorers typically average 4-5 runs per class.

Scorecards, & how to play the game

Can't tell the players without a scorecard.
We'll track daily participation with baseball-style scorecards. But our game's much easier than the national pastime, all you have to do to get to 1st base is show up for class. Each class date is a column or "inning" on the scorecard. Simply showing up to class gets you to 1st base. Mark your scorecard accordingly. Now you're eligible to collect more bases and score up to 5 runs per class (runs=participation points, 4 bases = 1 run).

Collect a base for each relevant comment, question, or link you posted before class, and for each correct quiz answer.

Be sure to post comments on group discussions you participated in.

Collect a base if you started the computer/projector & opened this site in our classroom before class.

Collect a base if you do something else that impresses the professor.

How to post. Eventually, everyone will have an opportunity to sign up as an "author" on our site. Until then, post your questions, comments, links, etc. in the current "comments" section under the quiz. Or, post via a classmate's author account (click on "new post" in the upper right.)


  • An approved pre-17th century philosopher (midterm rpt)
  • An approved post-17th century philosopher (final rpt)
  • Pre-Socratics
  • Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Taoism...)
  • Pop culture & philosophy (see sidebar)
  • Women in philosophy
  • Soren Kierkegaard
  • Henri Bergson
  • Existentialism (Sartre, de Beauvoir, Camus...) 
  • Charles Sanders Peirce
  • Wittgenstein
  • John Rawls on justice
  • Alan Turing vs. John Searle on Artificial Intelligence
  • Peter Singer on altruism 
  • Book report/review of any recommended title (see above and sidebar)
  • Your suggestion, w/approval

Granny Rice
"When the last great scorer comes to mark against your name, it matters not if you won or lost, but how you played the game." Grantland Rice (Murfreesboro's most famous son)

Daily routine

Before coming to each class:
1. Read/watch/listen to the assigned material for that date
2. Post relevant questions, comments, & links
3. Date and log the bases & runs you intend to claim on the scorecard in your personal log, in verbal notation (eg, "posted weekly essay = 4 bases/1 run... posted 2 comments, 1 link, 1 quiz question, 1 discussion question = 5 bases/1 run, 1 extra base"). Turn logs in with each exam.
4. Write your quiz answers on a separate sheet of paper and bring it to class, where we'll go over them. You get a base for each correct quiz answer.

We'll split into discussion groups of two or three for a portion of our class time, when we can. If you are physically restricted, or just prefer not to participate, an alternative indoor assignment will be provided... or you and like-minded others can form a sedentary indoor discussion group.

Daily Quiz

We'll do daily quizzes consisting of at least 4 questions, posted before class on our site by me and supplemented (in the comments section) by you. Each correct quiz answer earns a base. 4 bases = 1 run

Why a daily quiz? Because philosophy is all about the questions, and because "frequent quizzes can deepen learning" (see "How to Study" below). 

And note: "One reason scientists suspect that studying in pairs or groups can be helpful is that students are forced to talk to one another about the material-or better yet, argue about it... [this] deepens learning more than passively rereading or reviewing the material" alone. Hence, the rationale for our quiz-and-collaboration course format.

Also: three exams (each worth 20+ runs) will be drawn from the daily quizzes. 
And besides, it's fun.

Questions & Links etc.
QUIZ QUESTIONS, DISCUSSION QUESTIONS. An example of a QQ: “Was it Plato or Aristotle who presented the Allegory of the Cave in his book The Republic?” [Plato]. A DQ might be: “Who do you think had a better understanding of reality and how we can discover it, Plato or Aristotle? Why?”
LINKS. An example of a posted link that would get you home to score: “Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is helpfully explained in a cartoon I found on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EPz5z1pUag”... OR, “I found a helpful article about Aristotle in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy at http://www.iep.utm.edu/aristotl/” etc.

Personal Logs, Bonus Exemption

Keep a precise personal log of all your bases and runs, verbally documenting each base and run. For example:

"Sep 25-Attended class (1 base); turned on projector & CoPhi website (1 base); posted weekly essay (4 bases); posted two comments, two links, one discussion question, one quiz question (6 bases); scored 6 correct quiz answers (6 bases). TOTAL 18 bases = 4 runs, 3 extra bases."Write "4" in the box for today's class next to your name on the scorecard; write "4r, 18b" in your dated personal log.

Notice, this hypothetical student needed just two more bases to collect the maximum 5 runs on this date. Moral of the story: always try to do just a bit more.
If you're one of the top three run-scorers of the semester, as determined on the last class date, you only have to do one final report installment of about 500 words. Everyone else does two installments totaling 1,000 words (minimum).

Word counts
Publish a 200-word (minimum) post each week (in reply to a current discussion question, something said in class, something you read, etc.) for one run. Your final report should be 1,000 words (minimum) split into two posted installments.

Generally, 3 pages is 1,500 words single spaced, 750 words double spaced. 4 pages is 2,000 words single spaced, 1,000 words double spaced. 5 pages is 2,500 words single spaced, 1,250 words double spaced. 6 pages is 3,000 words single spaced, 1,500 words double spaced.

Here's a font-sensitive word-converter.

Important Dates-

Spring Semester 2018
  • Jan 16 - Classes Begin
  • Jan 30 - identify midterm report groups & topics
  • Feb 8 - Midterm group report presentations begin
  • Feb 27 - Exam 1
  • March 5-9 - Spring Break
  • Apr 5 - no class, see syllabus for assignment
  • Apr 10 - Final solo report presentations begin
  • Apr 24 - Last class, Exam, Final solo report post installment 1 due, runs leaders declared
  • May 1 - Final solo report post installment 2 due from non-exemptees
  • May 5 - Commencement - Undergraduate
  • May 7 - Deadline for Final Grades

The original peripatetics were Aristotle's students at the Lyceum, back in the day. Legend has it that they didn't sit indoors in orderly rows like students nowadays, but instead roamed the grounds in small groups, walking-and-talking philosophy. I like their style, apocryphal or not. It’s a model we’ll emulate when the weather is nice enough, outdoors.

Would you be interested in joining a peripateticStudy Abroad summer course that involves walking and talking in England? Let me know...

"Solvitur ambulando"

School of Life (SoL) videos
History of Ideas video animations
History of Ideas podcasts
In Our Time podcasts

JPO's blogs & podcasts (we're not using D2L): JPO blogs at CoPhilosophy, Up@dawn and Delight Springs, podcasts here and on Soundcloud (More day to dawn, at iTunes), and tweets @osopher. "You don't need to follow me..."

but if a blog or podcast link is included with the daily quiz you'll probably want to read or listen.
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You are encouraged to take advantage of this free service.

And, watch this space for details on Philosophy Tutoring, in 307B JUB.
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