7.0051 Sum: Metaphysics/Epistemology Course (1/321)

Sun, 13 Jun 1993 16:32:39 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 7, No. 0051. Sunday, 13 Jun 1993.

Date: 9 Jun 93 10:17 -0700
From: Paul Herman <herman@fvc.bc.ca>
Subject: Summary re Second year Metaphysics & Epistemology course

Quite a while ago, I queried several lists about teaching
materials and methods for a second year metaphysics and
epistemology course. I was particularly interested in
providing some multicultural and feminist perspectives.

I promised to summarize back to the list. It's taken
awhile, but here it is.

I hope not to have left out anyone's responses; if I have,
my apologies.

Paul Herman,
UCFV, Chilliwack, British Columbia

A couple of post-modernist teaching methods


Here's a post modernist course for you (or what it seems to
me, on the basis of this discussion, might count as a post-
modernist course). No uniform texts, no lectures, none of
the "class discussions" which are actually ways of getting
someone else to say what the lecturer wants to say herself.
You begin with a set of questions: how is, and has been, the
field/subject/concept/area we've agreed to study
constructed? What kinds of assumptions characterize the
practitioners of this field? What counts as knowledge in
this field? What are the questions agreed to be important
among practitioners? What "knowledge" is assumed to be
necessary among them?

Then you organize your class as a collaborative to find out
answers to those questions. Members of the class investigate
different questions and report back. Answers are questioned,
new questions are generated or old ones elaborated, and the
cycle is repeated. You use the library, the world, other
members of faculty and other students, complimentary copies
of course textbooks, whatever you might use if you decided
to learn about something. Your students (and you) construct
the knowledge for yourselves, as part of a group of people
engaged in the same process. You replicate the way knowledge
is constructed in the "outside world." You learn (if it
works) not to depend on a teacher, a textbook, or an
encyclopedia to deliver "the truth"; you learn that knowing
is active, and that knowledge is always constructed and
always changing and always socially negotiated. The
teacher's role is mainly facilitative and supportive: what
she knows that's most relevant is how to learn.


Instead of using a textbook, students will be faced with the
task, in groups of 4, of creating their own "Sociology of
the Family" textbook. I want to use a form with which they
are familiar, but change their relationship to it-- put them
in a position of being authors, rather than consumers, of
culture. The course is subtitled: "The Family" in Everyday
Life. My goal is to investigate the social and cultural
processes through which the taken-for-granted reality of
"the family" is constructed as a cultural object. Data for
the course (our "text" if you will) will be the pictures,
portraits, accounts, tellings, stories, and renderings that
produce or assume "the Family" as it comes to be used and
talked about. I want to make this object available for
analysis in ways that will allow us to see who has the power
to author our taken-for-granted notions of "the family."


Usually, an item has been favourably mentioned somewhere--
either in reviews or by respondents--in order to be listed.
All comments are by others, not by me!

Some items are listed simply because there seem to be few of
them. e.g., readers in multicultural philosophy, even though
I have no information on their goodness.

Epistemology Texts

Dancy, Jonathan. Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology.
Blackwell, 1985. Excellent up-to-date critical intro-
survey for advanced undergrad and beginning grads.

Lehrer, Keith, Theory of Knowledge; Westview: epistemology
skepticism coherence.

Moser, Paul K., Human Knowledge: classical and contemporary
approaches. Good collection of articles

Pollock, John L., Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, Rowman
and Littlefield, 1986.

Trusted, Jennifer, An Introduction to the Philosophy of
Knowledge, 2nd yr epistemology course, series of reading
from Plato to Kant, and beyond with running commentary
extolling empirical knowledge. Accessible. MacMillan,
London, ISBN 0-333-32297-5)


Obviously, listing in this section does not imply that the
items could not serve well as, e.g., metaphysics texts, but
only that gender issues are a focus.

Several course syllabi are available in feminist philosophy.
For an index of them, send the following message to
you're subscribed on an Internet address):


Alcoff, Linda and Elizabeth Potter's collection, Feminist
Empistemologies (Routledge): includes articles that reflect
the diversity in the field and recent developments.

Antony, Louise M. and Charlotte Witt (eds), A Mind of One's
Own: Feminist Essays on Reason and Objectivity, Westview
Press, 1993.

Baier, Annette, Postures of the Mind. Reason - role in
metaphysics, ethics; Hume as root.

Belenky, Mary Field, et al, Women's ways of knowing: the
development of self, voice, and, mind, Basic Books, 1986.

Code, Lorraine. What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the
Construction of Knowledge, Cornell UP, 1991.

Duran, Jane. Toward A Feminist Epistemology. Rowman and
Littlefield, 1990.

Frye, Marilyn, The politics of reality: essays in feminist
theory, . Crossing Press, 1983. Excellent essays.

Garry, Ann and Marilyn Pearsall, Women, Knowledge and
Reality; Explorations in Feminist Philosophy, Unwin Hyman,
1989. Excellent collection of important feminist philosophy
on many standard fields of philo. Excellent editorial

Gergen, Mary Mccanney, Feminist Thought And The Structure Of

Griffiths, Morwenna and Margaret Whitford (eds), Feminist
Perspectives in Philosophy.

Hanen, Marsha and Kai Nielsen (eds), Science, Morality and
Feminist Theory. Excellent articles

Harding, Sandra and Merrill B. Hintikka (eds), Discovering
reality: feminist perspectives on epistemology, metaphysics,
methodology, and philosophy of science, 1983.

Harding, Sandra, Feminism and Methodology

Harding, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? (Cornell).

Hekman, Susan. Gender And Knowledge: Elements Of A
Postmodern Feminism. Boston: Northeastern University Press,

Laqueur, Thomas. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks
to Freud, Harvard UP, 1990. Not for undergrads but excellent
source for instructors.

Lloyd, Genevieve, The Man Of Reason, 2E, U. Minnesota,
1984. Well reviewed history of philosophical concepts of
reason in terms of gender: are western notions of truth and
rationality gender based?

Longino, Helen. Science As Social Knowledge: Values And
Objectivity In Scientific Inquiry. Princeton University
Press, 1990.


Nelson, Lynn Hankinson, WHO KNOWS (Temple)

Minas, Anne, Gender Basics; Feminist Perspectives on Women
and Men, Wadsworth, 1993.

Riley, Denise, "Am I that Name?"; Feminism and the Category
of "Women" in History, University of Minnesota, 1988.
Stimulating, enjoyable; upper division and grad.

Tong, Rosemarie, Feminist Thought: A comprehensive Intro,
Westview, 1989.

Tuana, Nancy, Woman and the History of Philosophy, Paragon,
1992. Intended for students.

Metaphysics Texts

Carter, William, The Elements of Metaphysics, Temple UP.

Coburn, Robert C., The strangeness of the ordinary: problems
and issues in contemporary metaphysics, Rowman &
Littlefield, 1990. Delightful invitation to serious
conceptual puzzles; very accessible.

Post, John F., Metaphysics; a contemporary introduction,
Paragon, 1991.

Swartz, Norman, Beyond experience: metaphysical theories and
philosophical constraints, 1991. Excellent reviews.

van Inwagen, Peter, Metaphysics, Westview, 1993. A model of
how to do philosophy, clear prose, rigorous argumentation
rigorous without being technical, Western (analytic)


Rorty, Amelie Oksenberg, Mind in action: essays in the
philosophy of mind, c1988.

Smith, Peter and O.R. Jones., The philosophy of mind: an
introduction, Cambridge UP, 1986.

Teichman, Jenny. Philosophy and the Mind. OUP, text


The Dept. of Philosophy at the University of Toronto last
year received a small grant to look at non-white curriculum
resources and put together a bibliography. It is probably
available for a modest cost. Write to the Chair of the
Dept., Wayne Sumner, for details (or fax him at 416-978-

Bodde, Derk (ed), A short history of Chinese philosophy, Yu-
lan Feng. short reference work

Bonevac, Daniel, & Stephen Phillips, Understanding Non-
Western Philosophy; introductory readings, McClelland &
Stewart, 1992.

Hiriyana, Outlines of Indian Philosophy. short reference.

Jacobson, Nolan Pliny, Buddhism: the religion of analysis.
Chapter on Buddha & Hume on no-self.

Jacobson, Nolan Pliny, Understanding Buddhism.

Kessler, Gary E., Voices of Wisdom: a multicultural
philosophy reader. Wadsworth 1992.

Koller, John M., Sourcebook in Asian Philosophy, Macmillan

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli and Charles A. Moore, A Source
Book in Indian Phil

Sprung, Mervyn, The magic of unknowing: an east-west
soliloquy, 1987.

Sullivan, Lawrence E., Native American Religions, Macmillan

Valle, Ronald S. and Rolf Von Eckartsberg (eds), The
Metaphors of consciousness, c1981. Selections from many and
various traditions; promising source book.

Wing-Tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Phil.


Leslie, John, Physical Cosmology and Philosophy, Macmillan

McCaffery, Larry (ed), Storming the reality studio: a
casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction, 1991.

Woolley, Benjamin, Virtual worlds: a journey in hype and
hyperreality, 1992, Blackwell.

Personal Identity

Kolak, Daniel, Self and Identity, Macmillan 1991.

Solomon, Robert C., Continental philosophy since 1750: the
rise and fall of the self, 1988.

Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self