Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Second Life and Philosophy

In recent discussions with some Philosophy and other university teachers - someone mentioned the use of the Second Life - the virtual world - as a possible teaching tool / environment. I know some Universities use Second Life to hold tutorials - and have virtual campuses there.

I was not convinced that these meetings had many advantages over more spartan on-line discussion forums - and worried students (and staff) might get distracted by working so hard on their Avatars that they forgot why they were there.. But, as often, maybe I am wrong.

I did find a blog about Philosophy in Second Life at http://secondlifephilosophy.com/ and this links to a philosophy meeting place, and other resources.

I also began to ponder whether we could use Second Life for modelling and playing out ethical scenarios...

You may also be interested in the debate at http://www.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2007/07/philosophy-of-s.html

Is this a wise idea to move in- or a dubious and time-consuming distraction?
Dave

5 comments:

  1. Hi David!
    You can find more info about Second Life and Philosophy in the specialised section about Second Life in the PRS Wiki: http://wiki.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/doku.php?id=elearning

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  2. Anonymous11:08 pm

    I'm a philosophy instructor who has been considering using SL in teaching. So far I've hesitated partly for the reason you suggest: that so much time would need be spent on getting set up with avatars and with the technology that it would outweigh any possible pedagogical payoff.

    I think that SL is promising however, ESPECIALLY if attention is paid to the forms of communication it allows which do NOT exactly mirror RL. For example, some are using voice to broadcast "lectures" which are then discussed in voice chat rather than text chat, one person speaking at a time. This procedure merely mirrors in a more awkward way what we already do in RL. By contrast, SL permits many "speakers" (actually "texters") to weigh in via text chat at the same time, addressing different threads that might trail from a particular presentation or earlier discussion. I suspect that, for the purpose of engaging students and for the purpose of doing genuinely creative philosophy, this latter procedure may be much more powerful than the controlled discussions we might find in a traditional philosophy seminar. (Of course a moderator (the instructor) needs to tie up threads and summarize occasionally). As for visuals, the use of avatars can have a liberating effect on participants for a number of reasons, with the result of vastly more efficient utilization (if you forgive the economics talk here) of the human resources (brains) that are out there. This comment is long enough so I won't enumerate the reasons why the use of avatars may be liberating, or elaborate on why liberation is good for philosophy.

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  3. No. It's stupid. And irritating

    Firstly, please, please, please, virtual, or not, do women have to be presented as billboard icons? Philosophy surely has something useful to say against idolatry, not a confirmation for

    Secondly, virtual, etc, is not a step forward in contemporary thinking; it is reactionary, although its apparatus is seductive and charismatic and futuristic, and therefore appears as though it has value. It is a step away from life - to quote Nietzsche (as I always seem to) the whole facade is life-denying. It is a rejection of the world to a computer representation of an objectified landscape we can never participate in - our perspective is limited to 2D images on a screen! And banal, stupid images as well. No grit. Through virtual, the dual is flipped again as we are asked to be channels, Schopenhauer, to the Absolute. A return to an Absolute to bow down to, and in this case probably when there's a techno glitch. It is an insidious, satanic drive appearing sophisticated, but in actuality annulling modern and post-modern thought. No existential blood and guts here, no body odour, no work - I always get irritated by philosophical posturers - always trying to dodge just sitting down and reading a book on the subject - maybe post-modernity has led us to this place - learning the philosophy of Laura Croft

    I don't want to be taught by these three maids. Call me a dinosaur, but just give me a lecturer who delivers an interesting essay on Hume and miracles and let me take notes - and open up a discussion, if there's time, to add a bit of icing to the cake - is that too much to ask?

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  4. thats lara Croft... :-)

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  5. Raghuveer9:43 am

    Hi, i do not know whether this is out of place. But i am working on a paper where i am examining SL and John Rawls' Original Position. I would really like to discuss this with someone. If anybody is interested, pl mail me at raghuveersarathy at gmail dot com

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