Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A222 Exploring Philosophy - End of Week 22

I guess with the final submission of the TMA, Week 22 effectively ends now.

I must say that the Open University submission website is pretty robust as regards dealing with crap internet connections. At home submissions take seconds, tonight with the reported WiFi Connections speeds varying between 700kbps and 48Mbps, and occasionally nothing at all, the submission took over four and a half minutes and while other website were reporting no or slow connection, and an inability to contact the server, the OU page just kept the 'loading' icon going round and round and round and round until it eventually confirmed the file had been delivered.Pretty impressive really.

Tomorrow, its on with Week 23 and the next book on MIND.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A222 Exploring Philosophy - Internet Problems Hampering TMA Submission

Nearly there......

Working away from home this week which brings other challenges to study and writing essays, but also the challenge of poor and unreliable internet, not helped by a ship dropping its anchor on East Africa's fibre link.

I guess these things happen, BUT WHY THIS WEEK !

As I've previously experienced Kenyan internet problems,  I'd already agreed with my tutor that I could submit as many partially finished essays as I want, in case I don't get to submit anything, and they will mark the last successful submission received before the deadline.

I'll continue to tweak away at this essay, even though further edits may never get submitted :-(

The internet is painfully slow here, I may never complain about UK internet speeds again !!!

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A222 Exploring Philosophy - TMA 4 Nearly finished.

This seems to have been the most straight forward TMA yet, which makes me think I have missed something, but as the question is straightforward and pretty much based only on Chapter 1 the outline is,
  • Intro - what I'm going to do.
  • Set Scene - Descartes distrust of knowledge from authority.
  • Explain Method of Doubt
  • Criticisms of Method of Doubt
  • Criticisms of Descartes need for certainty in knowledge and is his foundation of knowledge based on certainty realistic and even desirable.
  • Comclusion
The motivation to write this TMA has been the hardest thing, I may be getting a bit study fatigue as it has been relentless study for over a year now - glad now I didn't try and to do two overlapping courses simultaneously, and I maybe should have had a break between courses - too late now.

So four days to get the essay finished and polished.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Friday, 24 February 2012

A222 Exploring Philosophy - End of Week 21

Another week down and another week torn between reading the next chapters of the book and cracking on with the TMA.

This is one aspect of this course which I believe is very poor. When doing my last course, DD101, it was necessary to cover all of the reading for that section of the course and then attempt the TMA. With this course it has, so far, been possible to write the TMA after only covering the first chapter or two of each section.

I suspect that this will mean come the exam there will be a lot of frantic reading of unread course material, and probably not just by me.

I have about 1400 words done on this TMA, so a bit more to add and then that will do....

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : Writing TMA04

Oh.... what a struggle, not because its a particularly difficult TMA question,

"Explain how RenĂ© Descartes applies his method of doubt and evaluate whether the method delivers Descartes’s objective of finding certainty."

probably the opposite, the answer seems so obvious that it is all a bit pedestrian and predictable.

Oh well, 800 words from tonight's start, hopefully finish on Thursday and have the weekend to mull it over and adapt and edit....

Friday, 17 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : End of Week 20

A bit of an odd week, what with school holidays and being caught between writing the TMA and reading the next chapter, so have sort of achieved neither.... Although I have helped my son complete a mock GCSE Maths paper even if they seem to teach the kids very odd ways of doing Maths these days. Makes me realise that I'm getting old :-)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A222 Exploring Philosophy - Last Lot of Study Materials Delivered

Received another cardboard box with course books today at work. After the initial confusion of wondering what I had bought from Amazon, and indeed when I had bought it - which was probably more worrying (possibly the effect of dreams and evil daemons) it has turned out to be the last two books for the A222 course - MIND and POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.

Its strange that it now feels as though the course is coming to a close when in actual fact we have just gone past half way.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : TMA04

The question for TMA04 is,

"Explain how RenĂ© Descartes applies his method of doubt and evaluate whether the method delivers Descartes’s objective of finding certainty."

Can't help feeling that this question will get a response that is somewhat thin.

The description/explanation of the application is pretty straight forward and I guess examples backing up the reasons for his doubts will be needed.Once this has been done evaluating the method needs to be the bulk of the essay, so I suppose I'd better crowbar Hume, Popper and Kuhn in there somewhere, though not entirely sure where yet.

1500 words may be a bit of a struggle......

Sunday, 5 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : Tutorial for Chapter 4

Worthwhile tutorial at the weekend. The general census of opinion was that Descartes has dug himself a hole that just can't get out of.

Had he been trying to prove his existence he was probably about there with "I think, therefore I am", even if, as pointed out, this is a conclusion with only one premise, so the best he can really say is "I think".

But as a foundation for knowledge his 'Method of Doubt' and his extreme scepticism leaves him doubting too much and therefore no certainties.

Scepticism and knowledge interesting subjects to study, although some colleagues of mine were surprised and amused that I was learning about sceptisism and not actually teaching it - so I'm not sure that that says about me :-)

We also looked at Hume and inductive versus deductive knowledge and its value, and talked briefly about Popper and scientific knowledge.

So about a month to write TMA04, which we've now done all the reading for, and read up on Hume and Popper.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : TMA03 Marked and Returned

Another solid Pass 2, just shy of 80%. Most of the criticism of the essay seemed to be about not mentioning Act and Rule Utilitarianism, which was a deliberate decision on my part based on the fact that the question was about their views on hedonism, and because I had been marked down previously for going off topic.

Oh well.... could have been worse, now to concentrate on the very overrated ideas of Descartes before Saturday's tutorial.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A222 - Exploring Philosophy : Disappointed with Descartes

I can't help feeling a bit disappointed by Descartes whole 'Cogito Ergo Sum', I was expecting a bit more - and it took a lot of pages of reading to end in a bit of an anti-climax.

I agree that your senses can be fooled, and so when he discards all knowledge based on sensory perception I can see the reasoning behind that.

To then discard what you can presently see and feel on the grounds that it could all be a dream, is a bit more of a step towards the unlikely, but has some validity, but only some.

But most problematic was to then discard all science knowledge such as 2 + 2 = 4 because an evil supernatural spirit may be playing with you mind. This is just fanciful and I doubt he'd be able to get away with such reasoning these days.

This however leaves him with his one true fact. If I am thinking, then I must exist, and Descartes says he can rely on nothing else.

This obviously gives him a bit of a problem regarding building all knowledge on this one true fact, and for this to be the foundation of all certainty. Descartes then falls on the time proven crutch of those who have run out of ideas and invokes the idea of God. Descartes says that if he has nothing else, he has an idea of a God which God must have put there, so he must exist.

This may be his lesser known idea "I am thinking of you, so you may exist" - not quite as snappy a line.

But having discounted the possibility of 2+2=4 being true due to a evil supernatural entity playing with his mind, why would the idea of a God not also come from this evil supernatural entity.

I know which one I am surer about being factual.

Firstly, I think it more likely that the idea of God was put there by his parents and society.

Secondly, if Descartes was searching for certainty, having gotten down to the one certain fact, 'I think therefore I exist', it seems a bit of a cop out and counter intuitive to then rely on existence of God to further his ideas.

If there has been one concept or idea that has provoked more debate about its existence or not I have yet to find it.

So, it may be the most famous philosophical line ever written, but the theory behind it, to my mind, is full of holes.