Philosophy and Composition
Mr. Woodruff

What in your existence needs philosophical explaining?

PhilosophyColloquium Assignment: Final Assessment

Students will form pairs or groups to work on an encyclopedic entry on a topic that is relevant to their world but which has no good reference sources about it, as of yet. The entry is to follow the format of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (see below): a division of the topic into its parts presented in a table of content, linked pages, glossary of key terms, a bibliography, other internet sources, a list of related topics, and how to cite the page. Each entry will be fifteen or more "pages" long. (If the text was printed out and turned in on paper, it would equal 15 pages.)

WARNING: If multiple users are editing a wiki at the same time, only the version saved first will stay. To avoid this issue, use a google doc to save all writing and take turns editing and saving the wiki page.
Tip: Another way to avoid this is to separate your wiki into different pages that are linked together. As long as the 2 people editing are on different pages, all changes will be saved without problem. :)
Erin figured out how to recover old drafts EVEN when the small window DOESN’T pop up saying “Would you like to return to your recovered draft, or ignore the recovered draft?”
What you have to do is: near the edit button there is another button that looks like this […]. You click on that and go to sources. Once you are in sources you want to click on the box that says view Wiki text. once this happens, the text from previous saved drafts will show up (however in a kind of weird computer code language….not really sure how else to describe it). Once all of that appears on your screen, underneath where the edit button is/would be there are two options: either go to Previous draft, or go to New Draft. Continue you to click the previous draft arrow until you get to your preferred/selected draft. From here click the edit button, and your previous draft should appear.

The Final Assessment will begin at the start of the 3rd quarter and will end with the presentation of the website during the first two weeks of May. Students in each group will all receive the same grade, which will be assessed on three main areas:
content (60%),
writing style (20%),
use of wiki tools and ease of user interface (20%). Expect to spend some time learning how to use the wiki.

Content is considered on the following:
the explanation of the context for their topic,
the quality of the philosophical insight into the topic,
the logical breakdown of the topic into subtopics,
the depth of analysis of each subtopic,
the reference to established sources of knowledge.

Style will be assessed by the Woodruffied NJ Holistic Scoring Rubric. (See the document on

Ease of interface will be based on the apt and helpful use of the wikitools that Wikispaces supplies as well as ease of internet reading.
Ease of internet reading is best illustrated by the philoquiums "Philosophy of Photoshop" and "Philosophy of Texting,"
and is NOT illustrated by "Date Rape Culture" and "Entitlement in the Digital Age." The former is a long scroll of text, brilliant as it is, but not visually engaging or easy to work with; the latter lacks enough textual direction up front as well as textual elaboration within the text.
Under the "Philoquium 2015," "Normalized Prejudice in Mainstream Society," another brilliant text, uses the basic tools of the wiki well, but still fails to be visually engaging. Although I do not favor visuals for the sake of visuals, the reality of reading internet text is to at least acknowledge the importance of visually pleasing presentation of information. So look around and imitate and create what you find appealing and appropriate to your topic. Remember, gifs can be distracting while trying to read text, so use them sparingly or well away from your text.
Read the articles in the navigation called "How to Use Widgets" and "Editing Tips and Tricks."

The final assessment, a public display of learning, will demonstrate the student’s ability to apply the philosophical tools and writing knowledge developed during the course in analyzing a topic of personal interest which is in need of philosophical understanding by the community. Of particular interest will be demonstrations of definition, coordination and subordination of ideas, and use of examples and analogies.

Your audience is your peers--and the world. So although you will be going through the process of writing on this wiki, you will need to keep revising each step to transform your work into a finished product for anyone to read. Don't leave evidence of your process; rewrite bibliographies and steps 3 and 4 and 5 to make this an enjoyable, and thought-provoking read for everyone on the planet.

Steps for your Proposal:
1. Join this wikipage. Each person needs to create an account, but not a wiki, at wikispaces .com. Directions are explained on-line at the bottom of the Vitruvianman home page.
2. Form your group and message me using the wiki messaging feature.
• find students you are willing to work with and put up with, either in your section or the other section
• select a topic that you all agree on
Each member of the group needs to message me about the members in the group and the topic of your philosophy entry. Your topic name will be the name of your page.
To message me you click on the Members button on the home page and you will go to an alphabetical list of users. Click on my name, Woodman2, and you will get the chance to message me.

3. (The Proposal) On your topic page write the name of your topic and the first name of each person in your group, (10 pts)
then explain in detail each of the following points:
A. Explain what needs to be philosophically understood about the topic (10 points)
B. Explain which areas of philosophy your topic touches upon. (10 points)
C. Explain how you are or can become experts on the topic (10 points)
D. Explain what is important and meaningful to you about the project (10 points)
E. Once you have dealt with my comments and have been graded on these elements, rewrite these four elements to make the introductory page of your philoquium. See Juliet and Anastasiya intro from Philoquium 2016 for a very good rewrite.

4. Provide an annotated bibliography of sources you will research.
Your annotations will deal with these five areas: 1. how the source fits into your philosophy; 2. what is the question the source seeks to answer; 3. what is the question the source gives; 4. what is the methodology of the source; 5. comment on the writing style of the source in terms of readabitlity.
A. 3 JStor or Philpapers sources related or tangentially related with an explanation of how they will help your argument. (30 points)
B. 3 texts we read as part of the course related or tangentially related with an explanation of how they will help your argument. (30 points)
C. 3 websites related to your topic with an explanation of how they will help your argument. (30 points)
D. For each website, You will need to provide evidence that the sight is of the quality required for this project. To do that, you will need to
Assess the Web-site:
Give the complete MLA formatted bibliographic information on the website, which includes such information as sponsoring organization, date of posting, date of access, etc.
Give the purpose of the site.
Describe the organization that sponsors the site.
Describe the kind of information you are getting and who it is aimed at.
Describe the kind of writers who have posted the information.
Include samples from the web-site.
Once you have dealt with my comments and have been graded on these sources, you can move these to a bibliography page, make them into links for specific sources that need citations, do both, etc.

5. Each entry needs to cover the following aspects of your topic. You do not need to answer each question directly, but each question will need to be addressed. Write your material on your page. You will revise this material into pages of your colloquium.

What specifically is the topic under analysis?
What is the context or contexts for the topic?
What is your purpose in writing the philosophy?
What is the specific situation you are responding to that needs philosophizing (a deeper level of understanding)?
What are the various ways you can begin to philosophize about the topic, and why do you begin the way you do?
What branches of philosophy is best for examining the topic? (revise from step 3B)
Who will benefit and why from your deeper level of understanding?
What are three scenarios you might explore that are relevant to your topic?
What are the categorical observations you can make about each scenario?
What is your analysis of the topic? What are the main parts to be examined? (Analysis means to break down and examine the parts and their relations. This is the main part of your entry and can be presented in many ways.)
What are the key terms and concepts of your topic.
What is the cause of the topic?
What are the effects of the topic?
Must anything be done about the topic?

6. Rough draft of your topic is due the last day of April at midnight. You should have rewritten most of your material to make it readable for the world.
7. Every student will need to read and write at least one content comment on each colloquium from your class period. Due the first Monday of May.
8. Revise in response to student comments.
9. The due date of each individual philoquium will be assigned during the last weeks of April. Your Final Draft is due 24 hours before your presentation day so class members have time to read and respond to your philoquium entry.
10. Each student will need to read the final draft the day before the presenter presents and write three comments on the philoquium by midnight for the presenters to read for their presentation the next day.


Philosophical examination of a topic will work like inductive reasoning: from well chose or crafted scenarios one can label categorical forces at work on human consciousness, action, thought, and feeling. This kind of writing takes time to develop, requires clear writing that explictly defines and names concepts and terms while giving clear examples of those concepts and terms, and is open to nuance and variations but still hits upon helpful "rules of thumb."
Journalistic examination fails to rise above the data, anecdotes, and facts to achieve categorical understanding of the issue. An example will explain something, but there is no rewording of the incident as though it were one of several examples that fits the category--the focus of the point. Terms and concepts may be in the text, but not understood or used as philosophical tools for better understanding of the issue.
Browsing is not examination at all, but a collection of points or observations, not supported by argument or logic, and mixed in with links and visuals that make for eye stimulation and for mental moments analogous to captions under pictures. Browsing mistakes the form of the internet for actual reflective thinking.

Examples of philosophy
Examples of journalism
Examples of browsing

Sample Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry to use as a model

Plato on Friendship and Eros
First published Fri Feb 20, 2004; substantive revision Thu Feb 17, 2011
Plato discusses love (erôs) and friendship (philia) primarily in two dialogues, the Lysis and the Symposium, though the Phaedrus also adds significantly to his views. In each work, Socrates as the quintessential philosopher is in two ways center stage, first, as a lover of wisdom (sophia) and discussion (logos), and, second, as himself an inverter or disturber of erotic norms. Plato's views on love are a meditation on Socrates and the power his philosophical conversations have to mesmerize, obsess, and educate.
In what follows, section 1 deals with the Lysis and Symposium. Sections 2–4 primarily with the Symposium alone. Section 5 deals with thePhaedrus. Section 6 with the closing section of the Symposium and with parts of the Ion, Protagoras, and Laws. Sections are not self-contained, however, and are intended to be read sequentially. Most scholars agree that the order of composition of the “erotic” dialogues isLysis, Symposium, Phaedrus, though some put the Phaedrus earlier than the Symposium.