Classes in the fall

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Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 05:33 pm
As of right now, I have 0 background in philosophy, so whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made. I have a choice of taking a history of modern phil. or a symbolic logic class this fall and I am torn as to which I should take first. :brickwall:
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 05:58 pm
@chopkins,
I would recommend the History class first, although it might depend on your learning style and where your natural strengths lie. Also I note you say 'history of modern philosophy' so where it starts might have some bearing on your choices also. I personally feel history of philosophy must start with the Ancient Greek.

A good part of general philosophy is in learning how to express ideas clearly, and writing and comprehension. History of philosophy is a great subject to practise those skills, because there are many great essayists to study, like Russell and Durant, and because reading and writing about the examples they give will be a good grounding in both the literary and philosophical aspects of the subject.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:11 pm
@chopkins,
Are you sure those are your only options? Usually, study in philosophy at a University would begin with some, or all of: Introduction to Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Introductory logic. Then a semester course on symbolic logic and/or modern philosophy would come afterwards.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:31 pm
@chopkins,
chopkins;160993 wrote:
As of right now, I have 0 background in philosophy, so whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made. I have a choice of taking a history of modern phil. or a symbolic logic class this fall and I am torn as to which I should take first. :brickwall:


If you only had the choice between symbolic logic and modern philosophy, I would suggest trying symbolic logic. It is not a difficult subject to learn (usually a freshman level class), and it is probably the most beneficial for you if you want to grasp logical/philosophical concepts, argue effectively, and improve your overall critical analysis capabilities. And to a point, if you get comfortable with it, it almost becomes a game. To get a good idea of the content you can expect in the symbolic logic course, check out the propositional logic symposia in the logic forum.

Logic

What you will essentially be learning is how to interpret, analyze, and solve propositional logic proofs using inference and replacement rules. To be honest, if you have an affinity for math, then propositional logic would definitely be your best bet. And even if it is not, you get to apply pseudo-mathematical skills to other areas and perhaps in so doing improve you understanding of mathematics all the better.

As far as modern philosophy goes, on one hand it is a very rewarding class to take, but it is a lot of work. I'm surprised they are letting you take it if you don't have a background in philosophy. Usually, it is a sophomore/junior capstone class. To get a good idea of modern philosophy, go through the philosophy 101 section as well as the philosophers section for these specific philosophers; Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Malebranche, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. Truth be told, out of all the philosophy students in college that pass by here, the history of modern philosophy class follows this generic line of philosophers from the rationalists to the empiricists. In my own experience, it was actually a hard class, especially if you have no previous experience with philosophical texts. Descartes Meditations is fine to understand till about the third part, then you get into more work. Spinoza's Ethics is alright, but tedious since it deals with logical propositions, axioms, definitions, etc. Leibniz is alright as far as Monadology goes, but then you get into more familiar terms that unless you were very observant in the notions of Descartes and Spinoza, it gets really difficult at times. Empiricists are a little bit more difficult than that. Suffice to say, that if you want exposure to essential philosophy and texts, then the modern philosophy class may be the way to go. But be prepared to put a lot of work into it and one hell of an exam schedule.
 
Pangloss
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:38 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;161018 wrote:
If you only had the choice between symbolic logic and modern philosophy, I would suggest trying symbolic logic. It is not a difficult subject to learn (usually a freshman level class), and it is probably the most beneficial for you if you want to grasp logical/philosophical concepts, argue effectively, and improve your overall critical analysis capabilities.


I most certainly agree with this.

At some Universities, "symbolic logic" is the name of the introductory logic course, while at others, it might signify an intermediate level logic course. Assuming that this course has no prerequisites, I would go ahead and take it over modern philosophy, for Vide's reasons.
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:41 pm
@chopkins,
chopkins;160993 wrote:
As of right now, I have 0 background in philosophy, so whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made. I have a choice of taking a history of modern phil. or a symbolic logic class this fall and I am torn as to which I should take first. :brickwall:

Take the latter.
History of the modern hmmmmm, it is a mis-nomer in its very classification.
At least with symbolic logic you will come to understand the beauty of the dreamers of mathematics.
At the very least.

But i dont want to presume for you, go with your inclination, which do you find more affinity with?
Go with your affinity.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:42 pm
@chopkins,
chopkins;160993 wrote:
As of right now, I have 0 background in philosophy, so whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made. I have a choice of taking a history of modern phil. or a symbolic logic class this fall and I am torn as to which I should take first. :brickwall:


Were it a choice between a course in logic and the philosophy course, then, ceterus paribus (as always) I would take the logic course. Philosophizing without logic is rowing without oars. However, I have serious misgivings about trying to learn logic from a straight symbolic logic course, taken cold with no background. When I was a freshman in college I tried to do just that. I learned to be excellent at moving strings of symbols around according to the rules, but I have to say that when I got out of that course (with an A) I knew no more about logic than I did when I began the course. I did not know what logic was about; what an argument was; or how to evaluate an argument. I have no beef about symbolic logic courses. Anyone who even pretends to be a philosopher must learn at least the basics of symbolic logic. But learning symbolic logic is not learning logic, and it is first and foremost logic you must know. So, if the course in logic is a straightforward course in symbolic logic and no more, I would advise you (although it brings tears to my eyes) to take the course in modern philosophy. But, depending on how it is taught it might also be a dud.
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 06:56 pm
@kennethamy,
I suppose as an added point to this, it would really depend on who was teaching the course, how they were teaching it, etc. A few members who have passed by and asked logic questions have mentioned how they don't even really get into the translation portion of propositional logic, but just jump right into the inference rules and truth tables at the start. In that respect, the practicability is very hard to ascertain right off the bat. One member that posted in the philosophy 101 section was taking a logic course that was done entirely with proof formatting rather than inference and replacement rules. So it definitely depends on the teacher of the class.

One thing you may want to look into chopkins is finding out what the syllabus is like for both the classes. If the philosophy department doesn't have the syllabus online, I'm sure the instructor would be more than happy to send you an advanced syllabus.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 07:30 pm
@chopkins,
I would think a critical thinking course (if they offer one) would be worth more than a pure logic course.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 6 May, 2010 07:46 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;161026 wrote:
I suppose as an added point to this, it would really depend on who was teaching the course, how they were teaching it, etc. A few members who have passed by and asked logic questions have mentioned how they don't even really get into the translation portion of propositional logic, but just jump right into the inference rules and truth tables at the start. In that respect, the practicability is very hard to ascertain right off the bat. One member that posted in the philosophy 101 section was taking a logic course that was done entirely with proof formatting rather than inference and replacement rules. So it definitely depends on the teacher of the class.

.


Yes. I remember that. I am not a violent type, but that teacher ought to be shot. He was only pretending to teach logic. But, you know, I bet he thought he was teaching logic. That was all he understood himself. And logic can be both fascinating, and extraordinarily vital. Particularly if you are going on in philosophy. At best, such teachers teach their students to be mechanics without anything to fix.

---------- Post added 05-06-2010 at 09:52 PM ----------

Jebediah;161039 wrote:
I would think a critical thinking course (if they offer one) would be worth more than a pure logic course.


If "pure logic" just means the kind of learning of mechanics he can expect, right. But usefulness is a matter of context. For a philosophy major (meaning a philosophy general, of course) an introduction to logic is more useful than is a critical thinking course. But for someone not going on in philosophy, a critical thinking course is really worth taking. But, as VideCorSpoon, pointed out, so much depends on the teacher.
 
fast
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 09:22 am
@chopkins,
In the movie, "The Next Karate Kid," Julie survives almost being hit by a car by jumping into a tiger position. But, what she done was done instinctively-something that would not have happened had her father not taught her how to do that years ealier.

So, she learned something (a skill) that was valuable to her, but it wasn't until several years later was she able to utilize what she had learned and barely understood earlier. You may be better off with the symbolic logic class. It's usefullness and benefits may not become immediately apparent, but it'll help build a foundation that may come to help you later in unexpected ways.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 10:58 am
@chopkins,
"...whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made." No one will doubt the utility of logic in thinking; it provides the framework for interpreting philosophical discourse (often argumentative), structures sound arguments, allowing one to exercise judgment about a demonstration. In that sense, logic is equally useful to being a member of a politic as reading philosophy. So there is a good case to be made for taking logic. especially if you have a mathematical bent of mind.

On the other hand, logic will only go so far in enabling you to grasp or understand the concepts being presented. A study of "modern philosophy" either at the topic, or at the individual philosopher level, with explanatory discussion in class, will acquaint you with many of the basic concepts; at the same time, you will begin to understand the logic of demonstration and argumentation by example. Moreover, the concreteness of practical philosophy (ethics, for example) which draws upon common experience, or a discussion of the progress of an idea through history, seems to be an important aid in being able to understand and manipulate positions and various kinds of arguments made by philosophers (and not just them alone).Studying logic first (or just by itself) may place you in the position (to borrow an analogy) of Helen's suitors, who had to settle for her handmaidens rather than Helen herself.
 
chopkins
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 12:22 pm
@chopkins,
In reply to a few earlier posts, i do have a choice between three pre-req classes, of which i must take symbolic logic at one point, but the other two i have a choice between (history of ancient/modern philosophy). I have enough room with my units to be able to take all three eventually...
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 12:44 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;161272 wrote:

On the other hand, logic will only go so far in enabling you to grasp or understand the concepts being presented. A study of "modern philosophy" either at the topic, or at the individual philosopher level, with explanatory discussion in class, will acquaint you with many of the basic concepts; at the same time, you will begin to understand the logic of demonstration and argumentation by example.


We hope so anyway. So much depends on the instructor, and how the course is conducted and includes. At least, in logic, you pretty much know what it will be about. That's not much, I agree, but it is something. But, as I have already said, if you are apt, a symbolic logic course may make you a mechanic. But won't teach you much about logic.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 05:29 pm
@chopkins,
chopkins;161293 wrote:
In reply to a few earlier posts, i do have a choice between three pre-req classes, of which i must take symbolic logic at one point, but the other two i have a choice between (history of ancient/modern philosophy). I have enough room with my units to be able to take all three eventually...


I would definitely recommend history of ancient philosophy, if that is one of the units, as a starting point.
 
chopkins
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 06:12 pm
@jeeprs,
Alright, so from the feedback Im getting, this is the layout that Im forming in my head.
First semester take ancient philosophy to gain a platform of base knowledge, then the semester after take either logic or modern philosophy, or both...
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 7 May, 2010 07:07 pm
@chopkins,
I would agree with your proposed plan of education. Firstly, because philosophy as such is a part of history, and the flow of ideas from one author to another helps make the subject understandable. By the time you reach modern philosophy, taking an introductory course in logic will make more practical sense in that you will understand its application to actual thinking. Speaking from my own experience, and from that alone, waiting to study logic until I had a real feel for philosophy and knew something of the tradition was no major detriment to what progress I was able to make in the field.
 
HexHammer
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 12:38 am
@chopkins,
chopkins;160993 wrote:
As of right now, I have 0 background in philosophy, so whenever I try to read or argue, I fail to grasp easily, or argue affectively, the concepts or points being made. I have a choice of taking a history of modern phil. or a symbolic logic class this fall and I am torn as to which I should take first. :brickwall:
I myself have read nada philosophy, only philosophy I know, I saw on TV or been told.

Imo 99% in here fails miserably in producing anything meaningful/useful as the majority of their reasoning only lies in the pure rethorics, and has nothing to do with real life, thus a "mental mastrubational philosophy".

Imo it's about knowing and understanding the basic principles, thus one can predict that if a huge manmade terrorist attack would occur, then the public survaliance would increase, contrary to the rest of the class's oppinion and the teachers discussing DDR and it's Stasi survaliance, they thought it would be far less survaliance, 22 years prior to 9/11.

You should follow some simple rules to be a good philosopher.

- never be naive and blindly trust the masses/group, the celebrated professer just because he has 20 years of experience, nobel prize and everybody thinks he's right, remember Niels Bhor proved Einstein Wrong.

- don't give in to group pressure, but give in to good reason.

- be skeptic, but don't refuse things, just because they'r not plausible, but leave them as undetermaned, unplausible postulations can be right afterall.

- too many just runs off and apply "logic" to everything, when most logic will fail looking behind the obvious.
Dude 1: you can learn from myths.
Dude 2: you can't myths is per definition nothing to do with reality.
Hex: but those who dismissed something as a myth may be wrong, by being overly skeptical, or stupid, therefore you may have a chance learning something from a myth.

- never be ruled by emotion, when reasoning, be ruled by reason to abolish emotion, thereby make intelligent results.

- never stop searching for knowledge
- never stop questioning things
- never stop trying to make things a different way!

- if you'r not comfortable posting questions in public, feel free to pm me.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 01:36 am
@HexHammer,
HexHammer;161592 wrote:
I myself have read nada philosophy, only philosophy I know, I saw on TV or been told.

.


Is that right?!!. I am shocked! Shocked!
 
chopkins
 
Reply Sat 8 May, 2010 01:43 am
@chopkins,
I find that my personality already is a lot like some of the bullets you have there. I have always been inquisitive and skeptical. One of the reasons i think philosophy is a good fit for me is the fact that it opens up the possibility for me to learn from past thinkers and take that knowledge and apply it in the modern world. That and it helps me argue with the wife...
 
 

 
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