Philosophy Texts

In Defense of Reading Your Philosophy Assignments

It’s hard to motivate students to read, especially  primary philosophy sources. But it’s such an important way to get into conversation with great philosophers. My husband recently took a couple of college courses and I asked him what would motivate him to read. It turns out that the three things he said he wanted were exactly the same things mentioned by Eric H. Hobson, of Georgia Southern University, in his paper on how to get students to read:

https://evergreen.edu/sites/default/files/facultydevelopment/docs/Idea_Paper_40.pdf

According to Hobson, teaching a course without answering these three questions contributes to the lack of student compliance to reading assignments:

  1. Why do I need to read this?
  2. Will this be on the test?
  3. Is it possible for me to understand it?

If these questions are not answered, then we are not likely to improve on the 30% of the students who read the material we have assigned, a percentage that has remained steady for the last 30 years. These are three questions to which I will continue to try to provide answers. But here are the general ways I go about answering them:

  1. Explaining in class what you should get from or pay attention to in each reading, whether methodological or ideological, and how it fulfills at least one of the student learning outcomes of the course, and
  2. Assigning only what will be on a test (and then putting it on the test), or what can be written about in a paper, and
  3. Assigning only readings at a level appropriate for you and fitting the time we have, and recommending keeping a dictionary handy!

My student outcomes are still varied, since I continue to experiment with grading scale, assignment types, number of pages, test question types, and student choice, but I will never assign any reading that does not have an important relevant lesson to learn or that will not be tested on or that I don’t believe you can learn, if you study it.

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Multiple Author Sources

school-of-athens

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Anselm of Canterbury

The Ontological Argument

Thomas Aquinas

The Five Ways

 

Aristotle

aristotle

 

A. J. Ayer

ajayer

 

Terry Bisson

 

Buddha

 

Chuang Tzu

 

Arthur C. Danto

 

Vine Deloria

  • God is Red: A Native View of Religion, Vine Deloria;c1994, Available at Ventura College Main Stacks – Library (BL2776 .D44 1992 )

 

Rene Descartes

young-rene-descartes

 

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 

Epicurus

stern-looking-epicurus

 

Virginia Held

 

bell hooks

dblf-bell-hooks-1988-bwphoto

 

David Hume

painting_of_david_hume

 

Immanuel Kant

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

 

Laozi/Laotzu

lao

 

Helen E. Longino

 

J. L. Mackie

 

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

 

Deirdre N. McCloskey

 

Michel de Montaigne

montaigne

 

Nietzsche

nietzsche-ree-and-salome

 

Linda Nochlin

 

Martha Nussbaum

  • The Virtues

 

Suzanne Pharr

 

Plato

gorgias

Animations and Videos of Plato’s Allegory of the Caveallegory_of_the_cave

Plato’s Dialogues about or featuring Sophists:

600full-protagoras1

euthymidesi

 

Plutarch

plutarch_of_chaeronea-03

 

Louis J. Pojman

A Critique of Ethical Relativism

 

Willard Van Orman Quine

wvq-age19

 

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

 

Tom Regan

The Case for Animal Rights

 

Bertrand Russell

russell_bertrand_young

 

Jean Paul Sartre

600full-jean-paul-sartre

 

Schopenhauer

arthur_schopenhauer_portrait_by_ludwig_sigismund_ruhl_1815

 

John Searle

 

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

duble_herma_of_socrates_and_seneca_antikensammlung_berlin_07-2

 

Peter Singer

 

Alessandra Tanesini

 

Bernard Williams

 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

wittgenstein

 

Susan Wolf

Meaning in Life

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