Fall 2015 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Hiltz, Stephen
Discipline and Number
PHIL 1301 Section 501
T Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Introduction to Philosophy

Description of Course:

Being an introduction, this course will chiefly consider what philosophy is at its foundation—What is philosophy? and What does it mean to philosophize? We will find that these seemingly simple questions resist easy answers, as there have been many ways and reasons for practicing philosophy over the past two and a half millennia. Yet, hopefully, we will discover that these questions—as well as the fundamental and various questions philosophy asks about all areas of human life—are today more pressing than ever before. Toward these ends, we will read and discuss some of philosophy’s most influential texts, works that have helped influence and challenge Western thought. These readings, along with our in-class discussions and lectures, will additionally teach us different methods or “styles” of doing philosophy (Rationalism, Idealism, Existentialism, Phenomenology, etc.), as well as some of the different disciplines, realms, or “branches” of philosophy (Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Technology etc.). Moreover, by reading and interpreting these works on our own time—and then discussing them together in class—we will develop critical reading and thinking skills, as well as enhance our writing ability. Such things help us not only in other academic endeavors, but also in our personal and professional lives too.

Required Texts:

(Most of the required texts are fairly inexpensive and easy to find.)

Plato, The Republic (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996) ISBN: 978-0393314670

Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, 4th ed. (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1999) ISBN: 978-0872204201

Kant, An Answer to the Question: 'What Is Enlightenment?' (New York: Penguin Books, 2010) ISBN: 978-0141399294

Emerson, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (New York: Modern Library, 2000) ISBN: 978-0679783220

Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large, eds., The Nietzsche Reader (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2006) ISBN: 978-0631226543

Heidegger, Basic Writings, Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: HarperCollins, 1993) ISBN: 978-0060637637

Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1985) ISBN: 978-0820701783

Donald Palmer, Looking At Philosophy: The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter (McGraw-Hill) ISBN: 978-0078038266 (any recent edition should be fine)

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Five tests throughout the semester over the readings and lectures (worth 50% of grade), and a final prompted essay (worth 40%). The remainder of the grade will be determined by attendance and participation.

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