phill - Introduction to Philosophy Syllabus PHIL 1050 Fall...

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Unformatted text preview: Introduction to Philosophy Syllabus PHIL 1050 Fall 2011 Office Hours: TBA/by appointment Instructor: Matthew Bower Office Location: ENV 372a Course Description: Over the course of the semester we will be asking about the meaning and function of philosophy. In order to answer this question we will explore various dimensions of philosophical thought from four key perspectives: the classical, modern, postmodern, and Eastern traditions. Each of these will yield important insights into broadly understanding the history of philosophy. We will begin with the classical definition of philosophy as “the examined life,” which will anchor the rest of our studies this semester. We will take philosophy as an injunction to deeply examine the habits of thought that govern our daily lives and that have their origin in our intellectual history. Our survey will also include a variety of other topics from figures within—as well as some from beyond— Western thought. We will turn to the modern worldview as we raise questions about faith, science, knowledge, truth, society, and progress. We will also examine a generally postmodern worldview, through which we will challenge the assumptions of modernity by discussing existence, morality, the “death of God,” the rejection of truth, feminism, and our relationship to the natural world. Finally, we will turn to philosophical traditions outside of the West by examining some of these same themes in an Eastern context. Required Materials: • Texts (available in the bookstore, but I encourage you to find them from independent bookstores, used bookstores, or order them for cheaper online): Plato - Trial & Death of Socrates: Four Dialogues (Dover, ISBN 0486270661) Jean Paul Sartre, No Exit and Three Other Plays (Vintage, ISBN 0679725164) René Descartes, Discourse on Method & Meditations (Dover, ISBN 0486432521) Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals & Ecce Homo (ISBN 0679724621) Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Bantam, ISBN 0553210351) Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (Dover, ISBN 0486297926) • Frequent internet access to our online classroom on Blackboard for additional course readings and assignments. Much of the reading material will be provided by me in the form of PDFs or online texts. Course Requirements and Grading: 1. Class Participation/Attendance (10%) – You are required to attend class. I must be notified of excusable absences ahead of time. You should expect to participate heavily in conversation and discussion. In order to contribute constructively we must all do our part to maintain an intellectual atmosphere of mutual respect. Failure to do so will result in expulsion from the class. 2. Weekly Reflection Questions (30%) – You will be responsible for responding to short reflection question each week based on the readings. The questions will be posted on Blackboard as an assessment and must be answered by Friday of each week. These assignments cannot be made up. You will be graded on your ability to thoughtfully engage the readings and reflect on the issues and questions discussed. 3. Midterm Exam (15%) – There will be a short midterm exam in this course, counting for 15 percent of your final grade. The exam will be broken up into a multiple choice section testing your reading comprehension and a short answer section asking you to demonstrate critical applications of what you’ve learned. 4. Final Exam (15%) – There will also be a final exam counting for 15% percent of your final grade. Same setup as the midterm. 5. Term Paper (30%) – Due December 8th. The term paper will be the culminating outcome of your classwork. You will write a 1200 word paper that defends a clearly articulated, well-defined thesis in response to one of the prompts I have provided. I am happy to consult you on possible thesis ideas. This is a relatively short paper, so I expect it to be concise, well thought out, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and philosophically perceptive. Since this is a philosophy course, I will be grading you primarily on your ability to give serious thought to difficult concepts and ideas, and to communicate those thoughts clearly. Please refer to term paper prompt. 6. Extra Credit – There is none. Communications Policy: The only way to succeed in this course is to stay in direct communication with me. This entails checking e-mail on a regular basis, checking Blackboard, showing me that you are staying on top of your readings by participating in class, and most importantly talking to me when you are having difficulty with the material. I check my e-mail regularly and will try to respond to all e-mails in a reasonable time frame, usually within about one business day. I am very busy and will not answer any questions that the syllabus provides an answer for via email. Check the syllabus before e-mailing me. I will not provide class notes or any other material you could have obtained in class via e-mail. If you miss a class you will be responsible for seeing me in person and making up any missed work. Academic Integrity: “If you must write prose or poems the words you use should be your own. Don’t plagiarize or take on loan.”1 Any form of plagiarism, either direct or indirect, is unacceptable, dishonest, and insulting. You may not paraphrase, quote, or reference other people’s ideas without explicitly giving them credit. Any incident of plagiarism will result in an automatic F and may, at my discretion, serve as grounds for failing the course. Incidents will also be reported to the university and could possibly warrant academic probation. I expect you to use proper, scholarly methods for citing outside references. If you have any doubts or concerns about references, please come talk to me before you hand in anything to be graded. You may also want to seek assistance from the university’s writing center. You may use whichever standardized formatting style you prefer as long as it is consistent (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.). I take plagiarism very seriously, as does the university. I will follow the guidelines set by UNT for dealing with instances of plagiarism: Accessibility: If you think you need any special arrangements or accommodations to succeed in the class please do not hesitate to ask me. “The University of North Texas is on record as being committed to both the spirit and letter of federal equal opportunity legislation; reference Public Law 92-112 – The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended. With the passage of new federal legislation entitled Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, there is renewed focus on providing this population with the same opportunities enjoyed by all citizens.” 1 The Smiths. “Cemetry Gates,” The Queen Is Dead. LP. Rough Trade Records, 1986. ...
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