The purpose of the Opening Discussion is to allow us to directly think about a philosophical question or problem without the bias that might result from prior knowledge of the ideas and arguments of important philosophers.
This direct approach to a philosophical question or problem sets the stage for our inquiry into the philosophical theories and arguments covered in the module. It furthermore is the first step toward a greater self-awareness of our own individual intellectual biases and assumptions.
The Opening Discussion MUST be completed at the beginning of the module during the timeframe specified in the course calendar. Please make sure to carefully follow the directions provided and adhere to the deadlines specified in the course calendar.
Click on ‘Reply’ to create your Opening Discussion POST in response to the prompts below. In your post, please address the following:
When you reflect on the later Wittgenstein’s notion of the contextuality of meaning (his notion of ‘language games’) and apply this notion to larger ‘systems’, do you think that some of these systems are ‘better’ or ‘more valid’ than others? Is there ‘progress’ of some sort throughout the history of ideas and intellectual inquiry? For instance, does the Scientific Revolution with its emphasis on empirical inquiry constitute progress compared to the focus on faith in the Middle Ages? Or – in a more specific example – do you think that modern empiricist epistemology (from Locke on onward) is ‘superior’ with respect to truth and knowledge, compared to Aristotelian teleology and his ideas of purpose in nature (the problematic notion of ‘final causes’)? Why? Why not? Carefully explain your reasoning.
Can you think of your own examples of ‘progress’ in intellectual history? Can you think of ways of thinking or systems of thought that are (or have evolved to be) ‘better’ than others? Please make sure to provide concrete examples, and carefully explain your reasoning.
Respond to at least two of your classmates. In order to respond to a classmate, open the classmate’s post and click ‘Reply’. Carefully explain why you agree or disagree with your classmate’s view on intellectual progress. Make sure to be specific and carefully explain your reasoning.
You must create your POST before you can reply to your classmates. Therefore, you should create your POST a day or two before the discussion deadline.
Your initial post should be about 200-300 words in length, and your responses to classmates should each be about 100-200 words in length, but feel free to be as detailed as you wish.
Your post and your responses must be written in proper English (correct spelling and grammar, and appropriate style). It is recommended to write your post and responses using a word processing program and copy and paste the completed post and responses. This will avoid losing work in case of internet outage, etc. You are encouraged to comment on your classmate’s feedback to your initial post and keep the (civilized!) discussion going.
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