Letter to Students

Winter Quarter Students
The Philosophy of Experience
Dec. 18, 2009

Hello All:

I have had questions from both newcomers  and continuing students about how to prepare for the beginning of winter quarter.  Here are my suggestions for what lies ahead.

Our principal readings last quarter were Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature and Kant’s Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics.  I won’t ask you to read these on your own – although reading the introductions and prefaces is a good idea – but it would pay to look into encyclopedia entries for both Hume and Kant.  “David Hume” and “Immanuel Kant” in Wikipedia are worthwhile.  From there, have a look at entries in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Hume, David: Metaphysical and Epistemological Theories” and “Kant, Immanuel: Metaphysics”.  The IEP is a refereed resource.  A third resource, and the most scholarly, is The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Turn to this only after you have spent time with the others.  You will find excellent articles on everything we have and will read.

We also read two major essays during fall quarter: G.E. Moore, “A Defense of Common Sense” and W.V.O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism.”  Files for both are found on the “Philosophy of Experience” Moodle site.[1] Please read both of them closely: our work during winter quarter will refer to each of them.  Neither is easy, so you must plan on reading them with some care.  Take notes and write out your questions.

Continuing students:
I will be counting on you to help newcomers catch on quickly.  This will be important not only in the first weeks of the program but all quarter long.  Recall your first encounters with Hume and Kant and provide both encouragement and insight to the relatively innocent.  We all know that Moore is one of the odder ducks on the philosophical pond, and Quine tries to be as radical as Moore is “common-sensical.”  Neither of them presents an appearance that neatly fits reality.  Your experience with these two can be helpful to everyone.

Week 1
I will not join you until the second week of the quarter.  Stephen Beck will be your faculty for week 1, and the curriculum will be the topic of “free will.”  Stephen will begin with a selection from Hume’s Enquiry, which I have posted on the program Website.  He also will lead you into Strawson’s article, “Freedom and Resentment,” on the Website as well.  Read both of these selections before Jan. 3.

Week 2 on:
After I return (Monday, Jan. 11), I will be reviewing the work of fall quarter in lecture.  I intend to direct my review both to newcomers and continuing students, with the aim of clarifying aspects of the nature of philosophical activity.  If you have questions that would make sense to both newcomers and continuing students, please send them to me.

Program Options:
Some students will be studying Gensler, Introduction to Logic, and some will be spending time with Williams, Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace. I will work with both groups, but it will require a good deal of self-direction.  I expect to schedule one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon of Thursdays to work with students on these texts.  No oneis required to join either group, and doing so cannot be substituted for other assignments.  Once one commits to the work, however, I will expect them to complete it.

I hope your holiday break goes well.  I am with my family near Munich, and my commitments here have led me to ask Stephen to cover the first week of he quarter.  He is an excellent philosopher and teacher.  I am completely confident he will use your time well.

with best wishes,

Charles Pailthorp

[1] I have requested that all new students be enrolled in “The Philosophy of Experience” Moodle site.  Log in using your Evergreen email user name and password.  If you have trouble, let me know; better yet, get some help from Academic Computing.

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