Archives for the month of: September, 2014

One change to the oral exam format.

Instead of drawing THREE cards and choosing TWO, you will draw FIVE cards and choose TWO.

(This means that you will have better odds of choosing cards that play to your strengths.)


On Tuesday, September 30, instead of my usual 2:30-3:30 office hours, I’ll be leading a workshop on Writing in the Social Sciences with Henry Allen Jr., a colleague who teaches history and government.  The workshop will take place in E-419, and I encourage you to come!  If you were planning to meet with me during that office hours period, please email me so we can schedule a time to meet.

On Wednesday, October 1, I will not be holding my usual 11:30-12:30 office hours.  Instead, I’ll be available 5-6pm that same day.  If you were planning to meet with me during the 11:30-12:30 block and 5-6 doesn’t work for you, please email me so we can schedule a time to meet.

On Thursday, October 2, I will also not be holding my 2:30-3:30 office hours.  Instead, I will hold office hours 5:15-6:15 that same day.  Again, if you were planning to come in the 2:30 block and 5:15 won’t work for you, please email me and we’ll figure something out.

Today, we’re engaging in class with the problems of the mind and self.

One important perspective on this is Thomas Metzinger.  In his book, Being No One, and in his other works, he sets forth the “self-model theory of subjectivity.”  In a 2012 interview, he stated:

“I think the self is an intermittent and complex process, but not a thing…The body and the mind are constantly changing. Nothing in us is ever really the same from one moment to the next. Yet the self represents a very strong phenomenal experience of sameness, and it’s clear this would be adaptive or helpful for a biological organism that needs to plan for the future. If you want to hide some food for winter or you want to save some money in your bank accounts or work on your reputation, you’re planning for future success and you wouldn’t do that if you didn’t have the very strong feeling that it’s going to be the same entity that gets the reward in the future. That it was the same entity in the past that got cheated, injured, hurt by someone, and that is now longing for retaliation, revenge, or something like that. Obviously, for the evolution of culture, a fiction of personal identity was also necessary. Just think about responsibility and culpability in the context of evolving a legal system; or of the need to build a reputation in larger, growing groups of early human history. A self-model is not something in the brain or in philosophy, it is also something social and public. Personal websites and Facebook accounts are public self-models too—they have a function, and they make something happen.”
Julian Baggini has thought about the self in interesting ways too–we will most likely watch this video (up to the end of the lecture around minute 13) today.
Why does it matter to us what names we use on Facebook?
Or here.

The outreach project is now due Monday, one week from today (9/29), by 11:59 PM.

In the week of 10/6, we will have our first exam, and it will be an oral exam.  Here is the guide to the exam.  Class will not meet in the usual way that week.  Instead, you need to sign up for an individual 15-minute exam time using the spreadsheet below.  (The exam should take 10 minutes, but the timeslots are 15 minutes to allow time for arriving and leaving.)  You will take your exam in B-300-K, my office.

There are a few rules.  Please follow them.

1. Sign up for one spot and one spot only.  If you change your mind, sign up for a new blank timeslot and remove your name from your old one.

2. Don’t steal someone else’s spot by deleting their name and typing yours in instead.  If someone else has gotten to the timeslot you wanted before you did, that’s too bad, there are plenty of other timeslots available.  If you really need a specific timeslot, sign up early!

3. Don’t create new timeslots!  If you’re late to the party and you don’t find a timeslot you like, the solution is NOT to randomly create a new timeslot!

4. Don’t delete the breaks!  It’s to everyone’s benefit to have a happier professor grading your oral exams, and losing my built-in breaks will make me less happy.

(Rules 2, 3, and 4 all relate to the problem of finding a timeslot.  If you are having a lot of trouble finding an existing open timeslot that works for you, email me and let’s strategize.)

5. When it comes time for your oral exam, please wait in the hallway a few steps away from my office, near classrooms B-336 and B-337.  This is for everyone’s privacy during the exam.  Please try to arrive 5-10 minutes early, but don’t come directly to my office, because someone is probably taking their exam.  Just wait in the hallway and I’ll let you know when we’re ready to go.  When you’re waiting, please wait quietly, in order to be kind to my office neighbors and to your fellow students who are taking the exam.

Sign up for the oral exam using this spreadsheet and following the above rules.  Send me an email if you have any questions.  Happy studying!

Meet in E-230 for class today, to work on e-portfolio!

Don’t forget: the outreach project is due Friday!

Slides from today!  Please take to Twitter for a discussion!

Please click on this link for the oral exam guide.

A spreadsheet will appear in about a week,

I will not be holding my usual 11:30-12:30 office hours tomorrow 9/17 due to the fact that I’m one of the co-organizers of BHCC’s Constitution Day celebration, taking place 10-12:45 in D-lounge tomorrow. Come join us in our public reading of the entire US Constitution (including amendments)!

For Week 5…

By Monday, please read selections from Sum, by David Eagleman.  These are short stories offering different visions of afterlives.

On Wednesday, we will do an oral exam review.