Pl 11 H: issuesinphilosoph y



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1 Suffolk Community College, Selden, New York 11784

PL 11 H: I S S U E S I N P H I L O S O P H Y
Instructor: Dr. Gertrude Postl Office: H120, Southampton Building

Fall 2007, Section 2945 Tel. 451-4513 (Main Office: 451-4093)



Time: T/T 12:30-1:45 p.m. postlg@sunysuffolk.edu

Location: X-104 Office Hours: M/W 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

T/T 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.



O B J E C T I V E S

Upon successful completion of Issues in Philosophy (PL 11), the student will be able to:

(1) identify traditional and current issues in epistemology and metaphysics;

(2) distinguish between and critically assess major approaches in epistemology, such as Empiricism, Rationalism and Skepticism;

(3) distinguish and critically assess competing metaphysical approaches, for example, in Mind-Body, Personal Identity, and Freewill;

(4) demonstrate skills of information management (basic on-line and/or library research).

Procedures for accomplishing these objectives: Lectures, class discussion, in-class group projects, written assignments;
T E X T S:

1) Plato, Phaedo, trans., G.M. A. Grube, Hackett, 1977.

2) Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, trans. Donald A. Cress, 3rd ed., Hackett, 1993.

3) David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, ed. by Eric Steinberg, 2nd ed., Hackett, 1993.

4) Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, Vintage, 1989.

5) Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions, Citadel Press, 1987.


R E Q U I R E M E N T S:

1) FIVE QUIZZES: quiz 1 (Plato) – 9/25 quiz 4 (Nietzsche) – 11/29

quiz 2 (Descartes) – 10/18 quiz 5 (Sartre) – 12/18

quiz 3 (Hume) –11/8


Quizzes will consist of brief essay questions relating to the reading of the respective philosopher. The lowest quiz-grade will be dropped. No make-up quizzes!
2) TWO PAPERS

One paper has to be on either Plato or Descartes, the other on Hume, Nietzsche, or Sartre. Please note the deadlines Each paper should be at least four pages long (it may be longer), typed, double-spaced, and in the appropriate academic format. Deadlines: for Plato 10/2; for Descartes 10/25; for Hume 11/15; for Nietzsche 12/6, for Sartre 12/13. Papers received after the deadline will not be accepted! See separate handout for details and topics.


3) FIVE TEXT REPORTS

Before a text is discussed in class, each student has to turn in a brief account of the text in question. Each report has to be approx. one page long, indicating the main themes discussed in the respective text. See schedule for deadlines. Focus only on the sections listed on the course outline. The purpose of these reports is not to demonstrate full comprehension of the text but to show that a text has been read at all.


4) CLASS PARTICIPATION, READING ASSIGNMENTS AND BEHAVIOR

Class participation means to participate in the common effort of discussion in order to complement the reading material and to accomplish the aims stated in the course objectives. Absolute unwillingness to participate will result in a lower final grade. "Talking a lot" is not necessarily participation. Reading assignments have to be completed before class meetings. It is not enough to read a text; one should also be able to talk about it. Biographical and historical background information on each author will be included in the quizzes.

Disruptive or inconsiderate behavior (including walking in and out of the classroom during class time) will affect the grade. Cell phones and beepers have to be switched off during class time.


5) ATTENDANCE POLICY

The college defines excessive absence or lateness as more than the equivalent of one week of class meetings during the semester. In this course, students are allowed no more than three absences! Any additional absence will affect the grade. Excessive absence or lateness may lead to failure in the course or removal from the class roster. If a student is late, the time will be added up and will thereby also contribute to the amount of absences. It is the student's obligation to sign the sign-up sheet which will be passed around. If a student misses a class due to sickness or other justifiable reasons, evidence needs to be shown as soon as possible! In this case the absence will be excused. If a student drops the class after the official withdraw-date (10/29) without justifiable reason, he/she will receive an "F" for the course. No “W” will be given after the official withdraw-date.


G R A D I N G

4 Quizzes: 35% of the final grade

2 Papers: 40% of the final grade

5 Text Reports: 15% of the final grade

Class Participation: 10% of the final grade

Excessive absence will lower the final grade!


P L A G I A R I S M:

“In writing, students must fully acknowledge the source of any paraphrased passages and any ideas which they have borrowed. Failure to conform to these academic standards is plagiarism and may result in a failing grade for the course and/or serious disciplinary sanctions as outlined in the Code of Conduct” (SCCC Catalog, p.69). Plagiarism of any kind will result in a “0” for the assignment in question and in repeated cases in an “F” for the course. Severe cases will be reported to the Dean of Students Office.



S C H E D U L E
Tu 8/28: Introduction: What is philosophy? The areas and issues of philosophy; philosophy vs. mythology, religion, and science; historical framework: Greek, medieval, and modern thought;

PLATO: PHAEDO

ISSUES:

Epistemology: knowledge vs. sense perception; idealism; truth and reality; learning as recollection;

Metaphysics: immortality of the soul; theory of forms;

Personhood: body vs. soul; the question of death; reincarnation of the soul;

Ethics: the good as highest idea; the life of the philosopher as practice of death;
Th 8/30: Introduction to Plato

Phaedo (pp. 5 - 18; 57a - 69a);
Tu 9/4: Phaedo (pp. 18 - 38; 70a - 88b);

TEXT REPORT ON “PHAEDO” DUE!
Th 9/6: Phaedo (pp. 38 - 67; 88c - 118a);
Tu 9/11: from Republic, Allegory of the Cave (handout);

The Matrix (movie);
Th 9/13: No Class (Rosh Hashanah);
Tu 9/18: No Class (All College Day);
Th 9/20: Plato: Summary, Conclusion;
Tu 9/25: PLATO-QUIZ

Introduction to Descartes;




RENE DESCARTES: MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY

ISSUES:

Philosophy as Science: Descartes’ method;

Metaphysics: mental and physical substances; essence of material things;

Epistemology: rationalism; certainty of knowledge; radical skepticism;

Philosophy of Religion: proof for the existence of God;

Personhood: Mind-Body Dualism; Cogito;
Th 9/27: Meditation One;

TEXT REPORT ON “ MEDITATIONS” DUE!
Tu 10/2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (movie);

PLATO PAPER DUE!
Th 10/4: Meditation Two;
Tu 10/9: Meditation Three; Meditation Five (pp. 63-67);
Th 10/11: Meditation Six;
Tu 10/16: Descartes: Summary, Conclusion;
Th 10/18: DESCARTES-QUIZ

Introduction to Hume;



DAVID HUME: AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
ISSUES:

Metaphysics: common-sense critique of metaphysical assumptions;

Epistemology: empiricism; origin and association of ideas; causation and the problem of induction;

Personhood: self as succession of impressions;

Ethics: the nature of moral judgment; free will vs. determinism;

Philosophy of Religion: religious skepticism – against miracles;
Tu 10/23: &2: Of the Origin of Ideas; &3: Of the Association of Ideas;

TEXT REPORT ON “ENQUIRY” DUE!
Th 10/25: &7: Of the Idea of Necessary Connection;

DESCARTES PAPER DUE!
M 10/29: LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM CLASSES WITH GUARANTEED W!
Tu 10/30: &8: Of Liberty and Necessity;
Th 11/1: &10: Of Miracles;
Tu 11/6: Hume: Summary, Conclusion;

Th 11/8: HUME-QUIZ

Introduction to Nietzsche;

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE: BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL

ISSUES:

Philosophy as Illusion: critique of metaphysics and dualistic thinking;

Epistemology: perspectivism, relativism;

Ethics: creation of new values;

Personhood: overman; self-overcoming; will to power; eternal return;

Religion: God is dead; critique of Christianity;

Human Existence: live-force, instinct, nature;

Aesthetics: artist and philosopher; the question of style;
Tu 11/13: Part One: On the Prejudices of Philosophers;

TEXT REPORT ON “BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL” DUE!
Th 11/15: Part Three: What is Religious?

HUME PAPER DUE!
Tu 11/20: Part Seven: Our Virtues;
Th 11/22: No Class (Thanksgiving Recess);
Tu 11/27: Nietzsche: Summary, Conclusion;
Th 11/29: NIETZSCHE-QUIZ

Introduction to Sartre;



JEAN-PAUL SARTRE: EXISTENTIALISM AND HUMAN EMOTIONS

ISSUES:

Epistemology: consciousness and intentionality; all consciousness is consciousness of something;

Personhood: man is condemned to be free; radical atheism; responsibility for one’s own being;

Human Existence: ontology; existence before essence; man is only what he makes of himself;

Ethics: absolute freedom; no a priori good;
Tu 12/4: Existentialism;

TEXT REPORT ON “EXISTENTIALISM” DUE!
Th 12/6: Existentialism continued;

NIETZSCHE PAPER DUE!
Tu 12/11: Gattaca (movie)

Freedom and Responsibility;


Th 12/13: Sartre: Summary Conclusion;

SARTRE PAPER DUE!
Tu 12/18: SARTRE QUIZ



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