Last Updated: 11-10-2010 (note updates in red)

Fall Semester 2010

Introduction to Philosophy Syllabus

45.201  Introduction to Philosophy  (Gen Ed AHE) TTH 11:00am-12:15pm

45.201  Introduction to Philosophy  (Gen Ed AHE) TTH 12:30pm-1:45pm
(General education humanities and ethics)
Professor Eric S. Nelson                                                                                                          Email  eric_nelson at uml.edu
Office: Olney 101b                                                                                                                          Telephone: 978-934-3996
Fall Semester Office Hours:
TTH  3:30-5:00pm, and by appointment
Homepage: http://faculty.uml.edu/enelson/index.html


 Course Description
We will explore in this course philosophical questions and arguments concerning knowledge, morality, faith, certainty, doubt, and existence from Socrates and Plato in ancient Greece to Simone de Beauvoir and Ludwig Wittgenstein in the twentieth-century.
We will examine questions about the scope and limits of human knowledge (including the possibility of self-knowledge, knowledge of the existence of God and the external world, and moral knowledge) and the existential and personal dimensions of human life (including issues such as doubt and faith, self-affirmation and obligations to others, freedom and responsibility, and good and evil) in western philosophy. Special attention will be given to questions of knowledge and the self: what can one know and what is it to be a self or an individual?

The primary goals of this course are to promote studentsĺ (1) awareness of philosophical questions from antiquity to the present; and (2) ability to critically interpret and evaluate philosophical texts, positions, and arguments.

 

Course Assignments
1. Three Exams = 75% of final course grade.
2. Attendance, participation, in-class (individual and group) assignments = 25% of final grade.

Note that beginning with the fourth absence, each additional absence will lower the grade by 0.3/0.4 out of a 4.0 scale. There will be oral and written, individual and group, in-class assignments based on the readings and class-discussion.

 

Course Requirements

Students are required to: 1. Complete all assigned readings. 2. Maintain regular attendance.
3. Participate in class discussion and in discussion groups. 4. Complete all written assignments on-time.

5. Plagiarism (copying the notes, writings, publications of others as if they were your own) will result in failure of the course and other potential consequences.
 
Required Texts (Available at the UML North Campus Bookstore!)

1. Plato, Five Dialogues (Hackett, 2002; ISBN-13: 978-0872206335)
2. RenÚ Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Hackett, 1998; ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-192-7)
3. Gordon Marino, Basic Writings of Existentialism (Modern Library Classics; ISBN: 0375759891) [BWE]
4. Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty (Harper Perennial; ISBN: 0061316865)

Schedule

1. Sept. 2 (TH): Introduction to the class and to philosophy
I. Knowledge, God, and the Self
2. Sept. 7 (T): Plato, Euthyphro; for today read and be prepared to discuss Plato, Five Dialogues, pages 1-20.
3. Sept. 9 (TH):
Plato, Apology, in Five Dialogues, pages 21-44.
4. Sept. 14 (T): Plato, Meno, in Five Dialogues, pages 58-75.
5. Sept. 16 (TH): Plato, Meno, in Five Dialogues, pages 75-92.
6. Sept. 21 (T): RenÚ Descartes,
Meditation One in Meditations on First Philosophy
7. Sept. 23 (TH): RenÚ Descartes, Meditation Two in
Meditations on First Philosophy
8. Sept. 28 (T): RenÚ Descartes,
Meditation Three in Meditations on First Philosophy
9. Sept. 30 (TH): RenÚ Descartes,
Meditations Four and Five in Meditations on First Philosophy
10. Oct. 5 (T): RenÚ Descartes,
Meditation Six in Meditations on First Philosophy
11. Oct. 7 (TH):
(In-Class) Exam 1!
12. Oct. 12 (T): No Class, Monday Schedule
II. Faith, Power, and Becoming a Self

13. Oct. 14 (TH):
S°ren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death in BWE, pages 41-57
14. Oct. 19 (T):
S°ren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death in BWE, pages 58-72
15. Oct. 21 (TH):
S°ren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death in BWE, pages 73-90
16. Oct. 26 (T):
S°ren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death in BWE, pages 90-105
17. Oct. 28 (TH): Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals
in BWE, pages 111-127
18. Nov. 2 (T):
Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals in BWE, pages 127--147
19. Nov. 4 (TH): Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals
in BWE, pages 147-167
20. Nov. 9 (T ): Friedrich Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals
in BWE, pages 167-187
21. Nov. 10 (WED with TH Schedule):
(In-Class) Exam 2!
III. The Ethics of Ambiguity and the Question of Gender

22. Nov. 16 (T):
Simone De Beauvoir, Introduction to The Second Sex
23. Nov. 18 (TH):
Simone De Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity in BWE, pages 413-424
24. Nov. 23 (T):
Simone De Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity in BWE, pages 425-436
Thanksgiving Break
IV. Certainty, Doubt, and the Philosophy of Language

25. Nov. 30 (T): G. E. Moore, "Proof of an External World"; Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty,
pages 1e-20e
26. Dec. 2 (TH):
Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty, pages 21e-45e
27. Dec. 7 (T): Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty,
pages 46e-70e
28. Dec. 9 (TH): Ludwig Wittgenstein, On Certainty,
pages 71e-90e. Last day of class, course evaluations, and (Take-Home) Exam 3!
29. Dec. 16 (TH): Exam Three due
at http://turnitin.com before or by midnight (information to be provided)!