Commentaries should begin with a basic introduction indicating which of the topics you intend

  • Commentaries should begin with a basic introduction indicating which of the topics you intend
    to address, be it the class discussions, a podcast or linked source, or some real-world issue
    directly related to these.
    A. What the Commentaries
    1.   Each of the commentary entries should be viewed as a careful and thoughtful response,
    your own words
    , to one of the class discussions, podcasts, or the like.  The whole
    purpose of the commentaries is for you to be able to do a bit of critical thinking and
    reflection on your own, without the discussions of the class that may distract you. Some
    of us do our best thinking without the noise of discussion (even if it’s online).  Also,
    sometimes we might have a conversation, and only later think of a great response.  This is
    your chance to give that response.
    2. The commentaries need to be
    focused and on topic
    . Even though these are your
    commentaries, it does need to be on point.
    B. What the Commentaries
    are not:
    1. The commentaries are
    a summary
    of the course, either from the
    podcasts, or from the class discussions. I know what we have covered in the course, and so there
    is no need to tell me, point by point, what I already know.  Tell me what I don’t know, which is
    what you think about the material covered in the podcasts, class discussions, etc.  Reaction and
    reflection are the key ideas here.
    2. The commentaries are not an opportunity for you to allow others to think for you.  These
    are your commentaries, and I only want to hear from your mind.  As such, outside sources are
    highly discouraged, and of course, plagiarism of any sort will result in failure.

3. While the commentary is to be the work of your own mind, it is
just a free-form jazz
exploration about just any old thing in the world.  In other words, don’t use the commentaries to
talk about general things not directly related to the text readings or class discussions (much less
philosophy in general), such as your complaints about a noisy neighbor, or your plans to watch
some television show with your friends, or the fact that you went shopping for a new gadget and
were happy because it was on sale, or unhappy because it wasn’t. (These are all examples of
[actual] bad commentaries I’ve gotten in the past.  They didn’t end prettily . . .)

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