This course is an introduction to philosophical problems and the various approaches to their solutions. The student will be exposed to selected systems, mainly of Western philosophy, with emphasis on how these systems are relevant to solving the problems of contemporary existence. The course will explore answers to such questions as: What is reality? What, if anything, is the nature of man? Are human acts free or determined? What, if anything, makes an act right or wrong?
Recommend eligibility for English 1A
No department requirement, but suggest texts that use primary source reading whenever possible.
I. What is philosophy? 1 week Branches of philosophy Analytic vs speculative philosophy Western vs non-Western philosophy: broad comparisonsII. LOGIC 2 weeks What does it mean to say a conclusion "follows"? Common mistakes in reasoningIII. METAPHYSICS 4 weeks What is real? Materialism vs Idealism vs Dualism, etc. and representative thinkers (Western and non-Western) Freedom and determinism (teleology and mechanism) The mind-body problem Is metaphysics nonsense? Logical positivism, Buddhism IV. EPISTEMOLOGY 4 weeks What is knowledge? How is it different from opinion, faith, etc.? Rationalist vs empiricist styles and thinkers (Western and non-Western) Mysticism, moral, and aesthetic knowledgeV. PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION 3 weeks Standard arguments for the existence of God: the ontological argument, cosmological arguments, teleological argument The problem of evil Are religious assertions nonsense? Logical positivism, BuddhismVI. ETHICS 3 weeks Descriptive, normative, meta-ethics The challenge of determinism. Are persons more valuable than things? than animals? Compare Native American views The challenge of relativism The challenge psychological egoism Consequentialist vs deontological ethical systems. Representatives of each, e.g., utilitarianism (compare Mo-Tsu) vs Kant Are ethical statements just matters of opinion or personal taste?
This outline represents a "problems" approach. A historical approach is also acceptable.
Completion of required reading and final exam. Other requirements are determined by instructor; these may include completion of one or more papers, other written exams, journal assignments, participation in class discussion, class attendance, etc.
In accordance with Title V regulations, there must be at least one substantial (greater than one paragraph) writing assignment. Generally, evaluation is based primarily on written papers and essay examinations.
Suggested Instructional Methods and Materials
Primarily lecture and discussion. This can be supplemented by films, videos, oral reports, guest speakers, class debates, etc., as deemed appropriate and desirable by the individual instructor. It is suggested that readings include primary source material. Multicultural topics should be introduced where appropriate. |||