|INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY||
|Office Hours: M,W,F
To introduce you to and involve you in the activity of philosophy by having you read, talk, think, and write critically about a variety of perennial philosophical problems. We will study a few important works from the history of philosophy in order to see what questions they are concerned with and what answers they provide to those questions. Topics we will be discussing include the nature of reality, the possibility of knowledge of the world, the existence of God, and the nature of human beings.
Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy, 2nd Edition (Oxford, 2005). There will also be additional assigned material.
(1) Class participation (10%)
(2) Mid-term test (20%)
(3) 5 mini-essays, each 1-2 typewritten pages (20%)
(4) One short paper: 5-6 typewritten pages (25%)
(5) Final exam (25%)
The mid-term will be September 10th. The final exam will be due on the 24th. The paper will be due at the beginning of class on September 22nd. Only extreme circumstances justify missing a test or turning in a paper late, and these should be cleared if in any way possible before the date in question. I'll provide a handout on the paper. Exams in the course will mostly consist of essay questions, though each exam will also have a short answer component. Exams generally are designed to give you an opportunity to demonstrate familiarity with and thoughtfulness about the material we discuss.
The mini-essays are designed to help you get a handle on the most important ideas in the readings and to provide some practice engaging in philosophical discussions. Topics for these essays will be assigned the day before they are due and will be concerned with a particular passage in the reading assigned for that day. Doing these essays requires no additional reading, but rather close attention to that part of the assigned reading with which the topic is concerned. The emphasis in these mini-essays will be on economically putting arguments in the text into your own language and critically discussing those arguments. What I am looking for is an effort on your part to understand the material—thoughtful efforts at dealing with the text—not tremendous philosophical sophistication (though of course I'll be happy with that). There will be 7 essays of which you must do at least 5 (if you do more than 5, your grade for this component of the class requirements will be the average of your highest 5 grades). These assignments will only be accepted at the beginning of class on the day they're due. (No exceptions will be allowed).
I will hand out a list of suggested topics for the paper assignment. Topics will be concerned with philosophical problems discussed in class. It is expected, however, that for these papers you will do reading on your topic beyond that assigned for class.
In all work, it is expected that you will adhere to strict standards of academic honesty. You must cite properly ideas you borrow from others. You must refrain from copying the work of other students. Failure to do so will result in your failing the course.I expect your attendance and participation in class. I will call roll daily and attendance will directly affect your grade. Each unexcused absence after the first will reduce your grade by one unit (e.g., reduce a B to B-, reduce a B- to a C+, etc.). Class participation is also expected and part of your evaluation in the class.
Some of the readings are quite difficult, but the ability to concentrate on and to grasp philosophical discussions seems to improve with practice. Since all of our readings are relatively short, you should read them more than once. As you do the readings, look for the arguments, think of how those arguments might be challenged, try and formulate questions you might put to the authors. If you're having trouble understanding a passage, try and figure out why.
Cornell College is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. If you have a documented learning disability and will need any accommodation in this course, you must request the accommodation(s) from me as early as possible and no later than the third day of the term. Additional information about the policies and procedures for accommodation of learning disabilities is available on the Cornell web site at http://www.cornellcollege.edu/academic_affairs/disabilities/.
The readings for each date are to be done by class on that date. Supplemental readings may also occasionally be added. Page numbers refer to our text.
|September||1||Plato’s Euthyphro (pp. 218-236); Beardsley and Beardsley (pp. 3-12).|
||Plato’s Defence of Socrates (pp. 13-40) and Crito (pp. 383-396).|
|3||Plato’s Meno (pp. 91-125).|
||Epicurus (http://www.epicurus.net/en/menoeceus.html, and
||Descartes’ Meditations (pp.125-129, 174-180), Russell (pp. 71-74), Phillips (pp. 74-80), Malcolm (pp. 80-83).|
||Berkeley ( http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfbits/bd1.pdf ,
|9||Hume (pp. 129-139), Russell (pp. 84-86), Will (pp. 86-90).|
|11||Ryle (pp. 143-147), Taylor (pp. 147-154).|
|12||Nagel (pp. 154-158), Searle (pp. 158-160).|
||Cahn (pp. 160-171), Stace (pp. 171-173).|
|16||Clifford (http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/w_k_clifford/ethics_of_belief.html), Aquinas (pp. 236-239), Anselm (http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/anselm.htm), Descartes (pp. 239-241), Paley (http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:Ev-C-rh0-oMJ:philosophy.lander.edu/intro/articles/paley-a.pdf+paley+teleological+online&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=5&gl=us&client=firefox-a), Nagel (pp. 183-191).|
||Hume (pp. 241-247), Beardsley and Beardsley (pp. 206-209).|
||Mackie ( http://www.jstor.org/sici?sici=0026-4423(195504)2%3A64%3A254%3C200%3AEAO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-2), Swinburne (pp. 191-202), Flew and Mitchell (pp. 202-206).|
|19||Pascal (http://www.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/Pascal_Wager.htm), Blackburn (pp. 210-212), McKim (212-217).|
|22||Papers due. Taylor (pp. 409-417), Thomas Nagel, “The Absurd”
|23||Russell (pp. 417-420).