Philosophy Week 1 Discussion


  1. Clarify the material (ask if you do not understand).
  2. Identify problems (issues with the arguments, problems with a thought or idea).
  3. Help you formulate your own ideas and responses.

First Post: When posting for the first time (Thursday), be as thorough as possible. For example, if you are having difficulty interpreting a piece of the text, start off by explaining what you are trying to read, and how you understand it (even if you know it’s wrong). This helps your colleagues and myself approach the problem from your perspective. If you are disputing something a philosopher says, give us a quote or a summary of the argument, then explain why you think it is incorrect.

Reply Posts: When replying to other students (Sunday), it is good practice to reply to specific issues, or answer specific questions. General statements do not make your professor too happy. Examples of a poor reply: “I think so too” or “I agree with you”

Examples of a better reply: “I think so too because….and also was thinking that….. (gives us some support, some reasons for your opinion).

Post length: This depends on the problem you are discussing. Two paragraphs as a general rule is a good minimum length. This is your chance to discuss and work through the problems or ideas you have. It is much easier to learn philosophy if you are able to communicate it (even if your interpretation is wrong). We are not here to memorize a bunch of old dead white men’s ideas. We are here to work through them and see what sense we can make of them.

First discussion prompt:

This week, we read about what philosophy is, and some of the things that differentiate philosophy from other types of academic pursuits. You are not required to write about these topics, but here are some possible discussion prompts:

  • Discuss the nature of the discipline: What do you think about the different subdivisions of philosophy? Is there any one in particular you are interested in? Why? What kinds of questions are you interested in? Is there something about philosophy that you do not think you will enjoy? What is it and why do you think this?
  • Discuss The Apology: This is week 1’s substantive reading. Do you think what Socrates says in his defense is correct? Do you think it was right of his fellow citizens to execute him the way they did? Do you think what Socrates did with his time was admirable, or was it a complete waste? Why? What about controversial or ‘dangerous’ ideas? Do you think that there are some ideas that are too dangerous for people to discuss? Why?

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