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Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry

First Assignment: What is Philosophy?

Image courtesy of the University of Philidelphia

In the interest of inviting our Open Online participants to join us right from the outset, I wanted to share the introductory activity the face-to-face class will be working on over the weekend so that we might get to know some of you out there as we come into next week.

The assignment – one of a few that won’t be completely wide open in choice – is this: to answer the (potentially) unanswerable question, What is Philosophy? in an engaging and personable fashion that accomplished two goals:

  • We will begin to construct a collective definition of the beast we are setting out to tame: Philosophy.
  • We will get to know the members of our learning community and encounter their initial impressions of the subject at hand.

Your assignment may be completed as an essay (spoken or text on the blog), video, soundscape or song, visual representation or something that you feel represents you, and your answer to the question What is Philosophy? (If your work is visual or otherwise interpretive, your presentation should address the process and choices you made to communicate your thesis.)

Your presentation should be no more than 4′ long, and can be shared as a new post on this blog. Please be sure to file it under the Introduction to Philosophical Inquiry category, and any tags you feel might help organize our work over the course of the semester.

Direct any questions to Bryan Jackson, either on Twitter, @bryanjack, or email: brjackson at sd43.bc.ca

Looking forward to working with you!


About bryanjack

HS Gifted program teacher interested in the world out there, the world in here, and blending the two at every opportunity.


4 thoughts on “First Assignment: What is Philosophy?

  1. I may have a slight advantage here, since my bachelor’s degree was in philosophy. So I’ll refrain from answering fully. But philosophy, literally “love of wisdom”, tries to frame responses to a series of complex and possibly unanswerable questions:

    1) who are we?
    2) how do we know what we know?
    3) given that we don’t know where we came from, how should we behave?
    4) what causes things to happen?
    5) what can be known, how can it be known, and how does what we know and not know determine how we should think and act?

    I think those are good places to begin.

    Posted by Andrew | September 6, 2012, 10:51 pm
  2. These are excellent places to begin, Mr. Watt – thanks! As we move forward in discovering What can be known and how it can be known, your wisdom and support will be an invaluable asset in our learning community.

    Thanks for stopping by and offering your thoughts!

    Posted by bryanjack | September 6, 2012, 11:10 pm
  3. I am always reminded of Edie Brickell’s take on philosophy from “What I Am.”

    “Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
    Religion is the smile on a dog
    I’m not aware of too many things
    I know what I know if you know what I mean.”

    and in the second verse it is:
    “Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks
    Religion is a light in the fog.”

    80’s music rocks!

    Here is the word explained in animated gif ala ds106:

    Be kind.

    Posted by Todd Conaway | September 13, 2012, 4:05 pm
    • Wicked, Todd! Thanks for bringing in the 80’s tunes, as well as the animated gif – there is so much potential for this style of representation in #philosophy12, if only there were some gif tutors waiting in the wings ; )

      Good to have you aboard!

      Posted by bryanjack | September 13, 2012, 7:21 pm

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