PHIL 1381.18 Introduction to Philosophy
Gorman 109: TR 12:15-1:45
Spring 2015 Instructor
Rai Simonson MA, LA
Office: Administration Bldg. 2nd Floor Adjunct Office 241
Phone: Contact CHASS – easiest to contact me by email I will generally respond within 24 hours
Office hours: 10:00am to 11:30am T/TH and by appointment
Thursday, May 7, @ 10:45 – 12:45 for classes beginning at 12 noon on/TH
This course is an introduction to western philosophy. “Philosophy,” for the purposes of this course, refers to an intellectual activity: the pursuit of wisdom. Over the course of the semester we will address fundamental philosophical questions such as: What is philosophy? Why practice it? What is it to be human? How ought I to live? What does it mean to be free? What is knowledge and how can I acquire it?
Since we live in a litigious society, I am required to point out the following: What follows is a guide to the course, not a contract, and the instructor reserves the right to make changes as needed for the good of the course. Students will, of course, be notified of such changes in a timely manner.
Plato, Five Dialogues (Hackett, 2nd ed., 2002) ISBN 0872206335
Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Hackett, 3rd ed,. 1993) ISBN 0872201929
Herman Melville, Billy Budd (Signet Classics) ISBN 9780451530813
Links to all other course materials will be posted on Blackboard.
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to: 1.Analyze philosophical positions with critical sensitivity and an ordered academic inquiry. 2.Display knowledge of philosophical concepts and theories and, whenever appropriate, associate these concepts and theories with specific philosophers and philosophical movements. 3.Distinguish a number of fundamental branches of philosophy as well as certain schools of thought. 4.Articulate and defend their own views on a number of philosophical topics.
One presupposition of this course is that philosophy is an activity best carried out through discussion. Therefore, you are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the material you have read for each class meeting. Study questions are available on the course Blackboard site. Use the study questions to guide your reading and help you prepare for class.
Twenty percent of your grade will be based on performance in class discussion. A high discussion grade will be achieved through asking thoughtful questions and demonstrating a willingness to attempt to answer questions posed to the class and by your peers. Success in philosophy requires learning how to ask questions and being ready to confront your own ignorance. Thus the discussion grade is not contingent upon always “getting the right answer.” Thoughtful but incorrect answers are often just as constructive in a discussion, and will help, not hurt, your discussion grade. Students who feel that they will be unable to fulfill the participation requirement should meet with the instructor immediately.
Students are to submit a written question of their own for each work covered in class. The question will be typed and submitted upon entry to class – questions will not be accepted late. The question should be clearly linked to the text and students need to identify what is at stake. An example of this requirement is posted on blackboard. Students are allowed two “free passes” on this requirement to be used at their own discretion. This requirement will be weighted into the course participation grade.
There will be a number of unannounced quizzes given throughout the semester. These quizzes are designed to test your comprehension of the reading assignment for that day and the “Terms of Art” defined over the course of the semester. The average of the quiz grades will determine the quiz grade that will be factored into the final grade for the course. There