The assignment is simply to ask the first couple of questions to kick off a discussion.
Ask at least one question on meaning and one on merit.
- Questions about meaning focus on what the author is saying in the text for that day. What did the author mean here? What's the argument for this conclusion? What's the distinction between two related ideas? What's the connection between two parts of the position that the author evidently believes are connected?
- Questions about merit focus on the strengths and weaknesses of the author's position in the text for that day. How strong is this argument? Is this part of the position consistent with that part? How would the author explain such-and-such? How would the author reply to a certain objection (from you or from an author previously covered in class)?
Feel free to ask many (5-10) questions of each kind.
Send your questions to the class email list. This will free the others in class from having to take notes on your questions, and may trigger electronic discussion beyond what takes place in class. Send the email before or after class, but not on an earlier or later day.
The immediate purpose of the assignment is to get discussion going with questions that you really have, so that you get your questions answered and not all the questions are mine. But a large background purpose is to cultivate the skill of asking good questions.
The courage and creativity to ask good questions can be chilled if you feel you must have answers or clues to answers. You needn't. Ask questions that you really have, questions that you'd really like answered. Even if we can't answer the questions in discussion, asking them explicitly will frame the discussion and deepen our inquiry into the text for that day.
It may be your turn to ask the opening questions several times during the semester. Sign up for your days based on your schedule or the reading assigned for certain days.
Department of Philosophy,
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana, 47374, U.S.A.
email@example.com. Copyright © 1998, Peter Suber.