Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Stephen Downes’ Theory of Epistemology

Blog well...
We are greatly fortunate to have a mind like Stephen Downes‘ join us from time to time in Philosophy 12 to offer comments, feedback and dialogue with our for-credit participants. Occasionally, he offers responses to assignments, as in the case of this semester’s mid-term assignment, where he proposes the following theory of epistemology:

Most theories of knowledge depict knowledge as a type of belief. The idea, for example, of knowledge as ‘justified true belief’ dates back to Plato, who in Theaetetus argued that having a ‘true opinion’ about something is insufficient to say that we know about something.

In my view, knowledge isn’t a type of belief or opinion at all, and knowledge isn’t the sort of thing that needs to be justified at all. Instead, knowledge is a type of perception, which we call ‘recognition’, and knowledge serves as the justification for other things, including opinions and beliefs.

You can read the rest of Stephen’s theory of epistemology here. But other philosophers writing their own Theories of Knowledge midterms this week may also find useful reading from an older piece of his writing, How to Write Articles Quickly and Expertly

From time to time people express amazement at how I can get so much done. I, of course, aware of the many hours I have idled away doing nothing, demur. It feels like nothing special; I don’t work harder, really, than most people. Nonetheless, these people do have a point. I am, in fact, a fairly prolific writer.

Part of it is tenacity. For example, I am writing this item as I wait for the internet to start working again in the Joburg airport departures area. But part of it is a simple strategy for writing you essays and articles quickly and expertly, a strategy that allows you to plan your entire essay as you write it, and thus to allow you to make your first draft your final draft. This article describes that strategy.

Begin by writing – in your head, at least – your second paragraph (that would be the one you just read, above). Your second paragraph will tell people what your essay says. Some people write abstracts or executive summaries in order to accomplish this task. But you don’t need to do this. You are stating your entire essay or article in one paragraph. If you were writing a news article, you would call this paragraph the ‘lede’. A person could read just the one paragraph and know what you had to say.

But how do you write this paragraph? Reporters will tell you that writing the lede is the hardest part of writing an article. Because if you don’t know what the story is, you cannot write it in a single paragraph. A reporter will sift through the different ways of writing the story – the different angles – and find a way to tell it. You, because you are writing an article or essay, have more options.

 

 

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Open Online Invite to #Philosophy12

Image courtesy of @cogdog

Welcome (back)!

For the second year running, Gleneagle Secondary‘s Philosophy 12 class is being conducted as an open-online course, you are able to enroll as a non-credit learner in the community. Like it sounds, being a non-credit student means that you will not receive any institutional credit for your participation in the course, but are invited to read and view along with us, post your own thoughts as posts and / or comments on the blog site, or submit assignments for any of the corresponding units. There are no minimums, and no apologies for open-online learners in Philosophy 12: do as much or as little as you like.

To read a little of how this open approach influenced the first incarnation of Philosophy 12, see these posts from last year:

Feel free to share your thoughts with us via the #Philosophy12 hashtag on Twitter, and help us keep you in the loop by entering a few details in the form below.

Note: If you were an open online participant last year, or a for-credit student, your details are still in our databases, and you should still be an author on the blog. If your contact information has changed, please fill out the form again, or contact Bryan Jackson via email bryan at bryanjack.ca or on Twitter @bryanjack. 

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Course Evaluation

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Discussion Point: Is Science Objective?

look downstairs into stairwell whirl

Picture courtesy of Flickr user: quapan

As a culminating activity to our introduction to Scientific Philosophy, the class will be discussing the nature of objectivity in science from a number of perspectives outlined in the course text. In groups of 2-3, for-credit learners will prepare the following to be delivered next Tuesday (October 16th):

  • A one-minute introduction to their philosophical perspective (listed below);
  • A two-minute response to the question, Is Science Objective? 
  • A question for one of the other selected perspectives;

In addition, each group will post a synthesis of their thinking after the discussion to readdress their response to the original question, and incorporate influential points made by their peers during Tuesday’s class.

The different lenses / perspectives we will be addressing in class will be:

  • Post-Modernist
  • Feminist
  • Scientific Realist
  • Karl Popper
  • van Orman Quine
  • David Deutsche
  • Anarchistic Epistemologist
  • Instrumentalist
  • Logical Positivist

Invitation to Open-Online ParticipantsAs ever, we welcome your input, feedback, and engagement with the classroom learning wherever you are able to supply it. For this particular aspect of the course, if you would like to submit a response to the question from one (or more) of the listed perspectives (or one of your own choosing), feel free to submit a post or comment on the blog (If you are not a registered author on the blog, fill out the form on the Open Online Participants page to remedy this.) and join our discussion on Tuesday live on #ds106radio, or Google Hangout.

 

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Links & Assorted Philosophical Collegiality from @DrGarcia

[youtube=http://youtu.be/axARKd24eHo]

The last few days has seen the activity in #Philosophy12 expand across the Internet with the use of DS106 Radio, a user-maintained web-radio station I’ve been working and playing with for the last year and half, that has allowed our class readings and discussion to be shared with a wider audience and learning community.

No stranger to the #ds106radio airwaves and many a broadcast from the halls and auditoriums of our highschool, GNA Garcia has been an active listener and participant in the last two days’ discussions of Plato’s Allegory of the Caveand in the true spirit of open-online learning has become a teacher-learner-facilitator node in what I hope is beginning to form as a working blended learning network: a classroom supported by co-learners participating at a distance.

To this end, GNA has shared a host of links, videos (the one embedded above is from her) and readings to supplement our learning in the last few days, which I’ll share here so that those not yet immersed in the burgeoning twitterstream for the course can keep up.

A big thanks to GNA for her contributions this week and for (always!) listening along: we’re fortunate to have you as a part of our learning community!

 

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First Assignment: What is Philosophy?

Image courtesy of the University of Philidelphia

In the interest of inviting our Open Online participants to join us right from the outset, I wanted to share the introductory activity the face-to-face class will be working on over the weekend so that we might get to know some of you out there as we come into next week.

The assignment – one of a few that won’t be completely wide open in choice – is this: to answer the (potentially) unanswerable question, What is Philosophy? in an engaging and personable fashion that accomplished two goals:

  • We will begin to construct a collective definition of the beast we are setting out to tame: Philosophy.
  • We will get to know the members of our learning community and encounter their initial impressions of the subject at hand.

Your assignment may be completed as an essay (spoken or text on the blog), video, soundscape or song, visual representation or something that you feel represents you, and your answer to the question What is Philosophy? (If your work is visual or otherwise interpretive, your presentation should address the process and choices you made to communicate your thesis.)

Your presentation should be no more than 4′ long, and can be shared as a new post on this blog. Please be sure to file it under the Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry category, and any tags you feel might help organize our work over the course of the semester.

Direct any questions to Bryan Jackson, either on Twitter, @bryanjack, or email: brjackson at sd43.bc.ca

Looking forward to working with you!

 
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