Introduction to Philosophy: The Big Questions

Fall 2021 Courses


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 01 (10241)
TBD
9:30-10:45 MW
First Year Students Only


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 02 (20780)
TBD
11:00-12:15 MW
First Year Students Only


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 04 (20781)
Duarte
11:00-12:15 TR
First Year Students Only

Through a reading of various classical and contemporary philosophical works, we shall consider a number of fundamental questions, such as: What is virtue? What makes for a good human life? Is true and certain knowledge about the world even possible for human beings? Can human beings be said to be free if their choices are causally determined? Is there a God, and if so, why is evil permitted? Is death a bad thing, and if so, why? Authors to be read will include Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Thomas Nagel. Emphasis will be placed on carefully and critically reading philosophical texts, evaluating philosophical arguments, and learning how to write clearly and precisely.  


Introduction to Philosophy
10101 05 (20782)
Duarte
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only

Through a reading of various classical and contemporary philosophical works, we shall consider a number of fundamental questions, such as: What is virtue? What makes for a good human life? Is true and certain knowledge about the world even possible for human beings? Can human beings be said to be free if their choices are causally determined? Is there a God, and if so, why is evil permitted? Is death a bad thing, and if so, why? Authors to be read will include Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Thomas Nagel. Emphasis will be placed on carefully and critically reading philosophical texts, evaluating philosophical arguments, and learning how to write clearly and precisely.  


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 01 (14886)
Cory, David
9:30-10:45 TR
Must be a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior

The philosophical impulse is the desire to know, and this desire is shared by everyone. But while the desire might be common in our experience, it is hard to explain exactly what it is or what it is a desire for, because it is hard to say exactly what knowledge is, and what knowledge is about. Philosophy 20101 begins by asking why the thirst for knowledge is such a pressing concern and just what it is we're so desperate to know. Is this desire our most fundamental desire or is it motivated by deeper desires, e.g. to prolong life, to alleviate suffering, or to increase wealth or pleasure? Are truth claims inherently manipulative? How is what we believe shaped by our feelings and vice versa, and does this interplay between the head and the heart undermine the reliability of our knowledge? Do we desire to know everything equally much, or are there especially satisfying forms of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of our own history, or interpersonal knowledge (of each other or of God), or knowledge of scientific theory? Of course, all of these questions take on special significance against the backdrop of unease and confusion about the necessary role of authority and the corresponding danger of manipulation regarding knowledge of the most important things.

To address these questions about knowledge stemming from our shared experience, the class will turn to the core disciplinary tools which philosophy has to offer. One goal will be to connect the epistemological questions listed above with even more fundamental questions of philosophical anthropology, political philosophy, ethics and metaphysics. The course will revolve around a set of key primary texts in the history of philosophy (with special attention to Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and Rousseau). The goal will not be an exhaustive treatment of the theories in these sub-disciplines, but rather to introduce students to the systematic connections among these questions and to the tools philosophy provides for answering them.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 02 (11030)
Cory, David
11:00-12:15 TR
Must be a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior

The philosophical impulse is the desire to know, and this desire is shared by everyone. But while the desire might be common in our experience, it is hard to explain exactly what it is or what it is a desire for, because it is hard to say exactly what knowledge is, and what knowledge is about. Philosophy 20101 begins by asking why the thirst for knowledge is such a pressing concern and just what it is we're so desperate to know. Is this desire our most fundamental desire or is it motivated by deeper desires, e.g. to prolong life, to alleviate suffering, or to increase wealth or pleasure? Are truth claims inherently manipulative? How is what we believe shaped by our feelings and vice versa, and does this interplay between the head and the heart undermine the reliability of our knowledge? Do we desire to know everything equally much, or are there especially satisfying forms of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of our own history, or interpersonal knowledge (of each other or of God), or knowledge of scientific theory? Of course, all of these questions take on special significance against the backdrop of unease and confusion about the necessary role of authority and the corresponding danger of manipulation regarding knowledge of the most important things.

To address these questions about knowledge stemming from our shared experience, the class will turn to the core disciplinary tools which philosophy has to offer. One goal will be to connect the epistemological questions listed above with even more fundamental questions of philosophical anthropology, political philosophy, ethics and metaphysics. The course will revolve around a set of key primary texts in the history of philosophy (with special attention to Plato, Aristotle, Locke, and Rousseau). The goal will not be an exhaustive treatment of the theories in these sub-disciplines, but rather to introduce students to the systematic connections among these questions and to the tools philosophy provides for answering them.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 03 (14450)
Seachris
11:00-12:15 TR
Must be a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior

Why are you here? What is real? What can you know? How should you live? For what should you hope? You did not choose to exist, but here you are. In virtue of being here, and in virtue of being a human being, questions like these partly define and depict the condition—the human condition—in which we find ourselves. Philosophy was and continues to be a discipline that systematically attempts to frame and answer such questions with intellectual rigor—questions that we all ask at one time or another in one form or another.

This course offers a targeted glimpse into key problems and questions in philosophy, with central aspects of the human condition serving as our guide. Course readings will include a mix of historic and contemporary philosophical sources, as well as publicly-engaged pieces aimed at connecting perennial philosophical questions to twenty-first century life.  

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities.


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 04 (14099)
Hall
9:30-10:45 MW
Must be a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior


Introduction to Philosophy
20101 05 (11031)
Hall
11:00-12:15 MW
Must be a Sophomore, Junior, or Senior