Friday, 28 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : End of Week 4

It has been a bit of a struggle time-wise this week, although I prefer reading Hume to reading Locke both from how they write and their ideas.

The TMA seems to be looming over the horizon, and although I think I have a good idea of the issues raised putting it in writing will be a challenge.

Must try and get ahead this weekend........

Friday, 21 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : End of Week 3

As interesting as this week has been, the reading the original writing of Locke was pretty hard-core as the language was next to impenetrable.

Luckily, there are plenty of companion readings that make his ideas easier to understand and some good pieces on YouTube. I never thought YouTube would be so useful, but there are even videos of lectures on philosophy from Oxford University on YouTube, so maybe a useful resource, although I'll avoid referencing them.

Not sure I agree entirely with Locke, so looking forwards to reading Hume next week and reading other criticisms of Lockes ideas.

The On-Line tutorial has picked up speed (slightly) so hoping for some interesting insights there.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : First OnLine Tutorial

The OnLine Tutorial has started the tutor has posed a question about Locke's ideas and given an example of a Nazi war criminal with memory loss to discuss.

The forum is no longer a national forum and probably because of this the discussion has been, so far, pretty disappointing. I was looking forward to some debate and testing of ideas, but so far next to nobody is joining in :-(

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : First Tutorial

I attended the first tutorial yesterday, it was sort of enjoyable, but not earth shattering.

There seemed to be a coupe of people who had previously studied philosophy and made some interesting points, and others, like me, who had no experience of philosophy. So, a fairly mixed group in many ways.

The first on-line tutorial starts next week, so I need to do some more reading in order to be able to contribute to that.

Friday, 14 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : End of Week 2

The introduction to the ‘Ship of Theseus’ in Chapter 1 and the first two activities are interesting.This is the questions that if Theseus’ ship is constantly repaired and over time everything is renewed, is it still his ship ? 

Having just done DD101, looking at the ‘Ship of Theseus’ thought experiment from an identity point of view, I’d say that the planks that were replaced, and the planks that were used to replace the old planks, were to all intents and purposes lacking in individual identity.  So, when the planks were taken from the ship they lost the identity of the being part of the ship and this identity was taken by the new parts. This would have been the same for the rusty nails, torn sails etc. So the overall identity of the ship was maintained, as there was always far more of the established ship existing than the new parts being added. Much the same as when your car has its oil, brake pads, windscreen wipers, tyres, spark plugs changed throughout its life – if this was no longer your car then the DVLA and your insurance company may have some philosophical problems of their own !!!

So back to the ship,  the next question posed was had somebody gathered all the discarded pieces and reassembled it which ship was then the true ship of Theseus – the ship of discarded parts may seem identical to the Ship of Theseus, but could not be the Ship of Theseus, as that identity is still carried forward by the maintained ship.

There would also be some questions about whether the ‘ship’ constructed of discarded parts is actually a ship –it may look like a ship, but would YOU go to sea in it – rotten planks, rusty nails and torn sails – No of course not - so if it looks the same, and may even be constructed of the same materials, but fails to carry out the function it was originally was built for, how can it claim to be the ‘same’ ship.  

This would be the same if your car was involved in an accident and had the chassis replaced, your CAM belt then broke and you needed a new engine, you also needed various panels replaced due to minor bumps – if somebody gathered your old parts from previous services etc. and re-assembled an object that looked like your car, would it be your car - would it even move, and if it did move would it be safe – of course not, so this could not be your car….

I think this is different for ‘objects’ in which the individual parts are unique and have personality. There are several bands that now that have maybe only one original member left performing, but have still carried the band's name forward. Status Quo for example have two original members, if they were to leave the rest of the band may well continue on as Status Quo, but if the original 5 members then got back together again they would surely be the ‘real’ Status Quo as they are unarguably 5 unique parts of the original. Although they would have changed physically over the years, if the purpose of the band is to make music, and these were the original writers and performers, they must be the ‘real’ Staus Quo.

The next part of the chapter asks is it is right to hold people responsible for their actions of long ago – is the concentration camp guard still the same person he was 75 years ago, and should he be held to account for these crimes if he can’t remember them. This is only tackled from a philosophical point of view (obviously), as the only practical answer, I think, can be yes – or else anarchy rules and the need for the wronged to get revenge is not met.

However the following thought experiments on ‘The Prince and the Cobbler’, the 'Night and Day Man’ and the drunk, are all interesting discussion points.

I have to admit that I was not sure I would enjoy or understand philosophy, but is has been a good and interesting start.

The main things from Chapter 1 are I think,
  • The question of ‘self’ is an important philosophical concept with implications regarding ethics, morality and law.
  • One stance on ‘self’ from John Locke said that what makes someone the same person over time was memory continuity not necessarily bodily continuity.

First tutorial tomorrow, so that should be interesting……….

Friday, 7 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : End of Week 1

That was a nice gentle start to the course. The Module introduction was straightforward and interesting and a good scene-setter for the coming course. I even managed to catch BBC4's 'In out time' talking about 'Hume' which was interesting and possibly very useful - I already have many questions forming.

So time to crack on with Book 1 Chapter 1 - What am I ?

Monday, 3 October 2011

DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - Course Finished

So the end of the DD101, what have I learned and what do I wish I'd know before it started.

For me, as I have never done any social science studies before, this was a good insight in to what is a vast and interesting subject. It has certainly go me thinking about identities, inequalities, consumerism and waste. The psychology and geography aspects of the course were also very interesting and nearly prompted a change in direction, but now I've paid for A222 Exploring Philosophy and its effectively started, its probably too late to change.

Pretty much every section of the course had something of interest and the TMA essays would not have been overly onerous if you were happy with just a pass, and as the result of this course does not effect any future degree classification, that is all that matters. However I don't really work that way and probably did spend a bit too much time on the essays.

If I had any advice regarding the TMAs it is that, IN MY OPINION, the essay questions are not being asked to find out what you think or think you have learned - they are to find out what you know of the course content, and so your essay has to reflect the text, the authors views and the quoted theorists, and if it doesn't you won't be answering the essay correctly.

I pretty much tried to identify every relevant theorist or idea needed to answer the essay question and then just made sure they were quoted or referenced in the essay. Also dragging in theorists from previous chapters also went down well with my tutor and as the 3 main course strands are inter-linked there is a lot of identity / consumerism / social order ideas through-out the course.

Also, what worked best for me was to work out an essay framework and a rough idea of what I wanted to cover and then using the on-line PDF of the books copy and paste chunks of text that I needed into a word document. Once I had everything in the word document I would start writing the essay from the top of the page and as I covered topics I would delete them from pasted text - this made sure I didn't miss anything and was a good reminder on what I thought needed to be covered.

This way also meant you can get a lot of words and ideas down quickly, and I found it more motivational to know you were over the word count and it was a case of refining language and dropping weaker ideas, than starting at the beginning with 1500 words to write and trying to do it in a linear fashion. I had an iterative repetitive process of writing, reading, refining until I was happy with the essay.

I also thought that the timetable for the course was really good and while ahead of the suggested timetable things seemed in control and there was time to do everything. During the last two TMAs life sort of caught up with me and I fell behind and it just seemed impossible to do everything, so my advice to anybody doing DD101, and what I will make sure I do on my future courses, is to stay a bit ahead of the suggested timetable, its just makes things so much easier.

So that is the end of the first 60 point course, 5 more to go, and looking at the new fee structure it is just as well I started when I did as the new fees would have meant I could not have afforded to even start this course.

Anyway, as we close the Chapter on DD101 (except for the TMA 07 result expected in December) this blog has received just over 10,000 page views which is far more than I ever thought it would receive.

With the end of course information we found out that 1865 students submitted ETMA 07, and the marks followed the pretty standard bell-curve of A-12%, B-30%, C-39%, D-14%, E-3%, F -2%, G-0%.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : Week 1

1 October

Module Guide and introductory material

Already thoughts and forum posts are concentrating and focusing on the first TMA which has the essay question,

Give a critical account of John Locke’s views on personal identity.

This assignment requires you to give both an account of John Locke’s views and some critical assessment of those views. You should summarise the main features of Locke’s account before you go on to consider criticisms that might be levelled against it.

    DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences - 2 days to go !!!

    Managed to get my essay proof read and it only cost me a good bottle of wine. Good thing too, made some useful points regarding poor punctuation and asked questions which identified areas that needed more clarification.

    Anyway, a couple of re-writes and 3 submissions later, I think I am finished. 1649 words and managed to include every theorist bar Hoffman (who is just wrong) from page 57 of the Learning Companion, and several from previous parts of the course. So I think the essay is as 'theorist rich' as it is possible to be, it has a logical framework and the paragraphs seem to flow OK, so I guess the submission below is effectively the end of 'DD101 Introducing the Social Sciences' for me.

    Your assessment was received by the University at 10:35:37 (UK time) on 01 October 2011 

    Bring on A222 Exploring Philosophy