This course will serve as an introduction to what philosophers often call the “problems” central to the discipline of philosophy. This course will be divided into the following sections: (a) the Self, (b) Knowledge and Skepticism, (c) Existentialism and Absurdism, and (d) Meaning and Responsibility. In this course, we will use these texts to focus on one overarching question: What constitutes a “good” life? Through the lens of this question we will explore fundamental philosophical problems such as: “What is the self?” “How do we know anything?” “What is the purpose of a human life?” and “What do we owe each other?”
This course also has a secondary aim – it is a integrated seminar (or a “linked” course) that explores a theme chosen by the instructors of your “linked” courses. This semester our theme is based on Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and will examine the hero monomyth through the lens of early-modern and contemporary philosophy.
- Understand and critically assess the views of ancient, early-modern, and contemporary philosophers;
- Develop an ability to thoughtfully assess philosophical arguments with an eye toward tying those arguments to contemporary issues;
- Develop your writing and argumentation skills with an eye toward understanding and utilizing methods of philosophical problem-solving;
- Learn to engage meaningfully with philosophical arguments and issues and be charitable to conflicting philosophical viewpoints.
Course Requirements & Grading:
- Quality Participation 10%
- Link Assignment 10%
- Midterm OR Final Exam 30%
- Blogging Requirement: 50%
- 9 Blog Posts (30%)
- 2 Blog Revisions (10%)
- 2 Peer Workshops (10%)
Exam Supplement Option:
- By request, you have the option of completing a project in lieu of the examination. These projects are to be completed using born-digital platforms such as Scalar, WordPress, Prezi, or a platform of your choosing. All projects require a 2-page project proposal as well as the permission of the instructor.
Quality Participation (10%)
The class participation grade has three aspects: participation in classroom activities, regular attendance, and in-class written work. Participation in class activities includes asking questions, engaging thoughtfully and charitably with your classmates, and completing and discussing the assigned readings. Quality participation also includes regular and timely attendance and completing in-class assignments (group work) and exams.
Link Assignment (10%)
This interdisciplinary seminar requires the completion of an assignment that ties together themes from all three of your seminar courses. Information about this assignment as well as its due date will be distributed in the first half of the semester. Link survey
Midterm or Final Exam (30%)
There are (2) in-class essay exams in this course, a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam. Students are only required to sit for (1) of the (2) exams. Attendance for at least one exam is mandatory.
Blogging Requirement (50%)
Each week during the semester you will be given a writing prompt. These prompts will come from our in-class discussions with the aim of tying course material to contemporary issues and/or your own personal experiences. You will have time in-class to draft your writing assignments but you will be expected to complete and post your assignment to our class website by 11:59 p.m. each Monday.
- You are responsible for completing (9) out of (12) weekly blog assignments. No late submissions will be accepted. These posts constitute 30% of your final grade.
We will use (2) class sessions during the semester to “think tank” your writing assignments. In these sessions, you will engage in critical peer-review in order to revise your writing assignments.
- You are responsible for attending (2) in-class peer-review workshops. Attendance at both workshops constitutes 10% of your final grade.
You will need to revise and resubmit your revisions at the end of the semester. Your revisions need to be typed and double-spaced in Times New Roman 12-pitch font with 1″ margins and must include a print copy of your initial blog post and a completed peer-review worksheet.
- You are responsible for submitting (2) revisions that meet the above criteria by the final class session of the semester. Your revisions constitute 10% of your final grade.
Information from KCC’s Access-Ability Services:
“It is important for students to remember that, in the post-secondary setting, it is their responsibility to self-identify as students with disabilities and to request disability services. The process starts here at AAS. College can be stressful for most individuals. For individuals with disabilities, it can be a daunting task. AAS helps students with disabilities to recognize their potential by removing potential barriers to their education. The office also provides support through counseling, tutoring and academic advisement. We are glad that you chose to visit our site and look forward to seeing you in our offices at D205 .”
Course Readings: (subject to change)
Week 1: Introduction to Philosophy
- Voltaire – Story of a Good Brahmin
- Khan Academy – Wireless Philosophy – Fallacies – Introduction to Ad Hominem
- Khan Academy – Wireless Philosophy – Introduction to Critical Thinking
- YouTube Videos: “What Is Philosophy For?” – The School of Life
Week 2: Mind and Body
- YouTube Video: “Where Does Your Mind Reside?” – Crash Course Philosophy
- Descartes – Meditations on First Philosophy – “Second Meditation”
- YouTube Video: “Cartesian Dualism” – Philosophy Tube
Week 3: Mind and Body
- National Public Radio (NPR): “Can Science Explain Everything?”
- Smart – “Sensations and Brain Processes” / (MIT Notes on Smart’s “Identity Theory”)
- Gerner – What Did Mary Know? | Issue 99 | Philosophy Now
- YouTube Video: “Mary’s Room”
Week 4: Free Will and Determinism
- d’Holbach – “A Defense of Determinism”
- Vance – “Free Will and Hard Determinism” (Notes on d’Holbach)
- YouTube Video: “Determinism vs Free Will” – Crash Course Philosophy
- Vance – “Free Will and Hard Determinism” (Notes on d’Holbach)
- Film: “Nosedive” from Netflix’s Black Mirror
Week 5: Free Will and Determinism
- Stace – “Compatibilism, or Soft Determinism”
- Pollard and Massey-Chase – An Argument About Free Will | Issue 66 | Philosophy Now
Week 6: Knowledge and Skepticism
- Descartes – Meditations on First Philosophy – “First Meditation
- Plato – “The Allegory of the Cave” from The Republic, Book VII
Week 7: Knowledge and Skepticism
- Gaile Pohlhaus, Jr. – “Relational Knowing and Epistemic Injustice: Toward a Theory of “Willful Hermeneutical Ignorance”
- The New York Times – “College 101: The Ignorance of Privilege or the Privilege of Ignorance?”
Week 8: Existentialism and Absurdism
- Sartre – “Existentialism Is a Humanism”
- Midterm Questions
Week 9: Existentialism and Absurdism
- Sartre – “The ‘Faith’ of Bad Faith” from Being and Nothingness
- Midterm Review and Midterm Exam
Week 10: Existentialism and Absurdism
- Camus – “An Absurd Reasoning”
- Why Should I Be Good? | Issue 63 | Philosophy Now
- Partially Examined Life Podcast – Camus and the Absurd
Week 11: What Do We Owe Each Other?
- Peer-Review Workshop I
- Film: Vera Drake
Week 12: What Do We Owe Each Other?
- Rachels – “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism”
- Bentham – An Introduction to the Principle of Morals and Legislation
- Ursula Le Guin – The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas
Week 13: What Is a Life Well-Lived? – The Meaning of Life vs. A Meaningful Life
- Wolf and Cahn – “The Meaning of Life: Does It Make Sense to Ask Questions About It?”
- Gordon – The Question of the Meaning of Life | Issue 73 | Philosophy Now
- Philosophy Bites Podcast: Susan Wolf and Meaning in Life
- Peer-Review Workshop II
Week 14: Conferences, Final Exam Questions, and Final Exam Review