Phl 101 – 100: issuesinphilosoph y



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1 Suffolk Community College, Selden, New York 11784

PHL 101 – 100: I S S U E S I N P H I L O S O P H Y
Instructor: Dr. Gertrude Postl Office: Southampton Building 120

Fall 2009, Section 91358 Tel. 451-4513 (Main Office: 451-4093)



Time: M/W 2:00-3:15 p.m. postlg@sunysuffolk.edu

Location: H 29 Office Hours: M 11:00 - 12:00 a.m.

T/R 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

W 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

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;
TEXTS

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, A Nietzsche Reader, ed. by R. J. Hollingdale, Penguin Classics, 1977.

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



REQUIREMENTS

1) 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 and/or arguments of 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.
2) ONE PAPER

This paper should be at least four pages long (it may be longer), typed, double-spaced, and in the appropriate academic format (title, correct quotations, etc.). Deadline: Dec. 14. Papers received after this deadline will not be accepted! See separate handout for details and topics. For problems with writing papers, please consult the Writing Center (Islip Arts Building 101).

If the paper is handed in early (before Thanksgiving) it may be rewritten in order to improve the grade. The due date for the second version is in general two weeks after the first version has been returned. The first version has to be handed in together with the second version! In order to raise the grade, the rewritten version has to show serious improvements!
3) MIDTERM EXAM

Covering the first half of the course material (Plato, Descartes) – one essay, definitions, and brief essay questions.


4) FINAL EXAM

Covering the second half of the course material (Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre) – one essay, definitions, and brief essay questions.


5) 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.

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.


6) 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. 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 (10/21) without justifiable reason, he/she will receive an "F" for the course. No “W” will be given after the official withdraw-date.


GRADING

5 Text Reports: 20% of the final grade

1 Paper: 25% of the final grade

1 Midterm Exam 20% of the final grade

1 Final Exam: 20% of the final grade

Class Participation: 15% of the final grade

Excessive absence will lower the final grade!


PLAGIARISM

“In writing, students must fully credit the source of any quoted, paraphrased, or summarized 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 outlines 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.



SCHEDULE
M 8/31: 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;
W 9/2: Introduction to Plato

Phaedo (pp. 5 - 18; 57a - 69a);
M 9/7: No Class (Labor Day)
W 9/9: Phaedo (pp. 18 - 38; 70a - 88b);

TEXT REPORT ON “PHAEDO” DUE!
M 9/14: Phaedo (pp. 38 - 67; 88c - 118a);
W 9/16: from Republic, Allegory of the Cave (handout);

The Matrix (movie);
M 9/21: Cave Allegory and The Matrix continued;
W 9/23: Plato: Summary, Conclusion;

M 9/28: No Class (Yom Kippur)



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;
W 9/30: Meditation One;

TEXT REPORT ON “MEDITATIONS” DUE!
M 10/5: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (movie);

W 10/7: Meditation Two;


M 10/12: Meditation Three; Meditation Five (pp. 63-67);
W 10/14: Meditation Six;
M 10/19: Descartes: Summary, Conclusion;
W 10/21: MIDTERM EXAM

LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM CLASSES WITH GUARANTEED W!

DAVID HUME: AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
ISSUES:

Metaphysics: common-sense critique of metaphysical assumptions;

Epistemology: empiricism; skepticism; the problem of causal relations;

Personhood: self as succession of impressions;

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

Philosophy of Religion: religious skepticism – against miracles;
M 10/26: &2: Of the Origin of Ideas;

TEXT REPORT ON “ENQUIRY” DUE!
W 10/28: &4: Sceptical Doubts concerning the Operations of the Understanding;

M 11/2: &8: Of Liberty and Necessity;


W 11/4: &10: Of Miracles;
M 11/9: Hume: Summary, Conclusion;
W 11/11: No Class (Veterans Day)


FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE: THE NIETZSCHE READER

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;
M11/16: Philosophy and Philosophers (pp.29-52);

TEXT REPORT ON NIETZSCHE DUE (choose one of the three sections)!
W 11/18: Morality (pp.71-124);

M 11/23: Morality continued;


W 11/25: Fight Club (movie)
M 11/30: Religion (pp. 167-193);
W 12/2: Nietzsche: Summary, Conclusion;

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;
M 12/7: Existentialism;

TEXT REPORT ON “EXISTENTIALISM” DUE!
W 12/9: Existentialism continued;

M 12/14: Gattaca (movie)

Freedom and Responsibility;

PAPER DUE!
W 12/16: Sartre: Summary Conclusion;

M 12/21: FINAL EXAM







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