Archives for the month of: September, 2015

Today, we’re engaging with epistemic justice and epistemic injustice–the places where epistemology (the study of knowledge) and political philosophy (the study of power) come together.

I’m planning to engage with these in the context of disability (among other contexts) inspired by a short conversation in the 2:30 section on Monday.  Here’s an article about Nihal Armstrong, whose story I might mention as an example of testimonial injustice.  Here’s the introduction to the Disability Studies Reader, which can be a helpful work for thinking philosophically about disability.  And here’s a PDF of an older edition of the Disability Studies Reader.  You might also be interested in On Blindness, letters by Bryan Magee and Martin Milligan.  Just to be clear, these are intended as resources if you’re interested in exploring this more after class–there’s no way I expect you to read these before class, or even to read them at all if you’re not particularly interested in this topic.

You do not need to do any of the stuff below before class; this is a space that will be useful if you miss class or if you want to take a second look at anything from today’s class.

Today’s food for thought:

LOST THINGS by Lydia Davis

They are lost, but also not lost but somewhere in the world. Most of them are small, though two are larger, one a coat and one a dog. Of the small things, one is a certain ring, one a certain button. They are lost from me and where I am, but they are also not gone. They are somewhere else, and they are there to someone else, it may be. But if not there to someone else, the ring is, still, not lost to itself, but there, only not where I am, and the button, too, there, still, only not where I am.

Today, we’re going to engage with Descartes’ and Berkeley’s points of view on knowledge.

Here is a video to introduce it: 8-Bit Philosophy (Descartes)

Here is the handout for today’s activity, a collaborative activity analyzing the excerpts from Descartes and Berkeley that you read in advance of class.

#5 on that list leads us to an important question: should we be concerned only with questions of what we can know, without thinking of what we can do?  Is that even possible?  How are knowledge and action intertwined?  This question will provide a bridge between today’s work and Wednesday’s work on epistemic justice, with the readings from Fricker and de Sousa Santos.

Week 5 (10/5 and 10/7) is concerned with that fundamental question, “Who am I?”

On Monday of this week, we will engage with various philosophical perspectives on identity, the self, the mind, and consciousness.

In advance, please read: Chapters 2 and 4 of Blackburn, Think.  Chapter 2 is about the mind, chapter 4 is about the self.  Please also read Ludwig Wittgenstein, “The Diary and The Beetle in the Box” and Jorge Luis Borges, Borges and I.

Handed out in class on Monday 10/5: excerpt from The Questions of King Milinda.  (No need to read the King Milinda reading in advance.)  We might also watch this talk by Julian Baggini.

Wednesday  of this week will be an e-portfolio work day in E-230–learn about e-portfolio as it is used in our course, and spend some hands-on time working on your portfolio and doing some self-fashioning!

ENRICHMENT: Greg Egan, Dust, John Perry, Borges and I and I, Julian Baggini, The Ego Trick. Selections from Sum, by David Eagleman, Owen Flanagan, The Really Hard Problem: Making Meaning in a Material World

In Week 4, (9/28 and 9/30) we will discuss matters of knowledge. I’m posting this early in case you feel like getting a head start.  I’ll have photocopies to distribute in class next week.

Please read BEFORE Monday, 9/28:

Knowing (Chapter 1 of Blackburn, Think)

Excerpts from Descartes’ First Meditation and excerpts from Berkeley, The Principles of Human Knowledge

(Pronunciations: Descartes=Day-kart, Berkeley=Bark-lee)

Please read BEFORE Wednesday, 9/30:

Miranda Fricker’s Precis on epistemic injustice ; excerpts from Boaventura de Sousa Santos, João Arriscado Nunes, and Maria Paula Meneses, Another Knowledge is Possible

ENRICHMENT: If you want, you can listen to an interview with Miranda Fricker, discussing her work on epistemic injustice.  It’s about 15 minutes–you can download it as an MP3.  If you want to read the entire book chapter from Another Knowledge is Possible from which these excerpts are taken, click here.  The entire book appears to be online here.

Here are the readings for Week 3, when we will discuss moral philosophy.  Please read these by Wednesday of week 3 (9/23).

Kwame Anthony Appiah, “What will future generations condemn us for?”

Michel de Montaigne, Of Repentance

Here are the guidelines for the final project.  There is no need to think too much about this yet, as the proposal step is almost two months away, but I know some of you expressed interest in learning more about it in order to plan ahead, so–here you go!

Today, Monday, I’ll review the syllabus briefly and take questions, then we’ll each introduce ourselves, also briefly.

On Wednesday, we’ll engage with the three speeches delivered at colleges that were handed out last Wednesday.  If you click on each author’s name, below, you will get an online version of the relevant handout.


James Baldwin, “In Search of A Majority”, adapted from a speech delivered at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, 1960.


Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education,” delivered at Douglass College (part of Rutgers University) in New Jersey, 1977.


David Foster Wallace, “This is Water,” delivered at Kenyon College in Ohio, 2005.

Please be advised that there was an error–a post that was meant for a different course blog appeared here on this blog, with “Readings for Week 2” listed. The above (Baldwin, Rich, Wallace) are the correct readings for this week, Week 2.  I apologize for the confusion.

Welcome to Introduction to Philosophy, fall 2015, at Bunker Hill Community College!  You will see posts on here that were created for earlier semesters of the course.  This post begins our semester’s series of posts.  I will post readings and other resources on this website.  In addition, sign-up sheets for conferences and presentations will be here.  I recommend checking here for updates before each class, just in case.

Here is our syllabus.

Here is the “What is philosophy, and what is it for?” handout from Day 1.

Here are the readings for Week 2:

James Baldwin, “In Search of A Majority”

Adrienne Rich, “Claiming an Education”

David Foster Wallace, “This is Water”