Introduction to Philosophy: Relationship of the Individual to the World
(Dr. David Hildebrand, CU Denver, Fall 2007)
TTh 1:00 p.m - 2: 15 p.m. Room: PL 114
Does life have meaning? This deceptively simple question will provide our entry point into philosophy. We will read and discuss a number of writers, from Plato to the present, who, in considering the relationship of the individual to the world also raise the question of the meaning of life. This fundamental philosophical question will lead us into discussions regarding character and the good life, death and suicide, advertising and consumerism, and the impact religion and science can have on meaningfulness.
Required Texts: Books and PACKET available at Auraria Bookstore; books also available at Big Dog Textbooks (1331 15th Street).
1. THE TRIAL AND DEATH OF SOCRATES by Plato, GMA Grube, translator (Hackett )
2. COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE: additional readings are posted here, too: http://blackboard.cuonline.edu/
3. MY WEBSITE: additional readings may also be available at my web site: http://davidhildebrand.org/
Course Objectives: Ideally, by the end of this course students should gain the following skills:
Familiarization. Gain a good sense of what is at stake in issues of course.
Comprehension. Be able to comprehend the arguments offered by various philosophers.
Critical analysis. Be able to criticize those arguments by pointing out where they lack evidence, make an unreasonable leap, hold a false assumption, etc.
Demonstration of the above through writing and problem solving.
Verbalization. Be able to summarize a philosophical position, without notes, using your own words. Be able to criticize a position this way.
Conversation and Debate. Be able to discuss issues in a focused and informed way with others in the class. This will involve listening closely to their points, then responding in a way that moves the discussion ahead.
Time per week you will need to spend outside of class in order to do well (A or B): 5 hours, minimum (not including exam study)
Attendance/Participation 15 %
First Exam 25 %
Second Exam 25 %
Final Exam (take home, comprehensive) 35 %
Blackboard/Website: There are two online sites related to this course. Familiarize yourself with them right away. Both will offer you access to information about the course such as study questions, announcements, grades, extra credit assignments.
1. The first and most important one is our course Blackboard site: https://blackboard.cuonline.edu. On this page are INSTRUCTIONS TO ENROLL. Please make sure you enroll right at the beginning of the class.
2. The second site is my home page at http://www.davidhildebrand.org. Here there are a variety of general study tips and resources in philosophy.
Time Per Week: Many of us have responsibilities that compete with this class. Though I am sympathetic, these will not excuse poor attendance or late work. If short term, non-emergency illnesses or other contingencies create problems with attending class or completing assignments in a timely manner, students must notify me before class time by leaving a message on my office telephone. I will discuss the matter with students during the next class meeting or schedule an appointment at that time if needed. I will only consider an extension if I receive notification prior to the class or deadline except in cases of documented emergency.
Readings: It is expected that you have done the readings before we discuss them. As you read, copy out important points and questions you have onto a separate sheet of paper. (These will help you with your short reflection papers.) You may also want to note problem passages (e.g., with a "?" or "Q.") in your text as you read. These are good points for class discussion. You should come to each class able to discuss the main issues of the reading and you could be asked during class to present the main points to the class. Your well-prepared participation is crucial for a successful class. Please see the Tips for Understanding Philosophy and for Writing Philosophy Papers on my home page. See also this page for tips on participating and reading. Very important: please set aside about 10 minutes shortly before class to look back over (skim-review) the readings and whatever you have written for that day.
Attendance This class includes seminar days where attendance is optional. This means that for the remaining class days attendance is absolutely required (and will be taken) except in cases of illness, emergency, or special circumstances. An absence may be excused, exams may be made up, or homework may be turned in late only if (1) the absence has been approved in advance by the professor or (2) the absent student can document illness or emergency. Documents about absence must be brought to professor within one week of returning to class. Unexcused absences from required class days can lower your final average by a letter grade or more.
Participation Course participation grades are not automatic. They are based on oral contributions to the collective learning experience of the class as a whole in terms of asking pertinent questions, answering questions correctly or, at least, provocatively, making insightful observations, and offering other meaningful expressions of interest in the material that help encourage learning. Shyness is not an excuse—oral participation is part of your evaluation. There will be ample opportunity for active and well prepared participation, which I value and which will affect the final grade. This can take place in seminar days. "Participation" must include the following: class attendance, ability and willingness to contribute to class discussion and group activities; these activities will also influence "participation" : e-mail dialogue, extra-credit (when assigned) etc.
Seminar Days: On your schedule of classes (below) you will see days marked as “seminar days.” These are not "regular" class meetings and will cover no new readings. Each seminar day will focus on the material of the time since the last seminar day, usually about two class meetings. Their purpose is to facilitate more intense discussions with those who have informed themselves by carefully doing the readings. Except for the last one, seminar day attendance is optional, though recommended; those who are not interested in attending can be assured that there will be no penalties: no attendance taken, no quizzes, no new material covered. You have the day off. However, attending will be highly beneficial to learning the material and can help your overall participation grade. Students who attend seminar day have, in the past, done better on exams than those who do not attend.
EVERY STUDENT ATTENDING SEMINAR DAY MUST:
1. WRITE: one reading comprehension quiz question about material since last seminar day or test. This may be True/False, multiple choice, or short answer. We will go over these in class. Their purpose is to give us a sense of our reading comprehension. These will not become part of your actual class grade—they are for diagnostic purposes only.
2. WRITE: One comment (a paragraph) about material since last seminar day or test. This might be something you enjoyed, disagreed with, found puzzling, or just found interesting enough to discuss. These will be jump-off points for discussion.
3. have read the material fairly closely
4. be ready to participate in a conversation about the material.
Exams: Likely a mixture of short answer, multiple choice, and essay. Bring a blue book to each in class exam. The final exam is take home and it must be typed. NO MAKE-UP EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN WITHOUT EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES AND ARRANGEMENTS MADE PRIOR TO THE EXAM. Such circumstances include severe medical problems; talk to me for the full list of acceptable excuses.
Plagiarism/ Academic Dishonesty Plagiarism is a form of stealing. It occurs when an author uses the words or ideas of others as if they were the author’s own original thought. (It may include word-for-word copying, interspersing one’s own words with another’s, paraphrasing, inventing or counterfeiting sources, submitting another’s work as one’s own, neglecting quotation marks on material that is otherwise acknowledged.) Plagiarism is often unintentional. It can be avoided by always acknowledging one’s debt to others by citing the exact source of a quotation or paraphrase. Since plagiarism is such a serious violation of academic honesty, the PENALTY for it will be an AUTOMATIC “F” FOR THIS COURSE.
Academic dishonesty is the intentional disregard of course or university rules. This may include (but is not limited to) collaborating with others when rules forbid or using sources/experts not permitted by an assignment. The CU handbook has a more complete description of plagiarism and academic dishonesty.
Grades: I use the plus/minus system. Values for those letters, as well as the policies regarding other grades such as Incomplete, are available in the CU Academic Policies and Regulations section of the handbook. I have set out my standards of what a grade means on my FAQ section of my website.
Access, Disability, Communication: The University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center is committed to providing reasonable accommodation and access to programs and services to persons with disabilities. Students with disabilities who want academic accommodations must register with Disability Resources and Services (DRS), 177 Arts Building, 303-556-3450, TTY 303-556-4766, FAX 303-556-2074. I will be happy to provide approved accommodations, once you provide me with a copy of DRS’s letter. [DRS requires students to provide current and adequate documentation of their disabilities. Once a student has registered with DRS, DRS will review the documentation and assess the student’s request for academic accommodations in light of the documentation. DRS will then provide the student with a letter indicating which academic accommodations have been approved.]
Students called for military duty: If you are a student in the military with the potential of being called to military service and /or training during the course of the semester, you are encouraged to contact your school/college Associate Dean or Advising Office immediately.
Course Communication: In addition to announcements made and written handouts distributed in class, I may need to contact you between classes, which I'll do through individual and group email messages. One of the requirements for this course is that you maintain an email address, check it regularly for messages, be sure it is working, and let me know if you change your email address. You are responsible for any messages, including assignments and schedule changes, I send you via email. You also may contact me via email, in addition to seeing me during office hours or calling me.
Civility: Turn off beepers and cell phones during class. Text messaging, web surfing, and other electronic distractions may result in expulsion from class and will count against the participation grade. Students who are speaking deserve your attention and respect as much as I do. Listen to one another. Adherence to the Student Conduct Code is expected.
Contact Information and Office Hours
Phone : 303-556-8558
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://davidhildebrand.org
Office and Hours: Plaza M108; Hours TTh 10:30-11:30 a.m. or by appointment.
Purpose: I strongly encourage you to participate by dropping by during office hours. We can talk about the class readings and lectures, exams and papers, your progress, or just philosophy in general. Note: If you are a student with a disability, I will make myself available to discuss appropriate academic accommodations. Before accommodations will be made, you may be required to provide documentation. Students with disabilities will be accommodated. Students with disabilities are required to register disabilities with the UCD Disability Services Office, and are responsible for requesting reasonable accommodations at the beginning of the term.
PLEASE NOTE: ALL COURSE REQUIREMENTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT THE DISCRETION OF THE INSTRUCTOR.
Course Schedule: Readings and themes
(A rough schedule. Subject to revision. I will let you know in each class what is coming up.)
Readings will be from book, Trial and Death,
Otherwise, it's from an online source. Page numbers refer to original page numbers on the online readings.
21 None Introduction to class—Philosophy, arguments, and sophistry. How does one make an "argument"?
23 Trial and Death---Euthyphro What is piety? How are ethics and God related? Elenchus in action.
28 Trial and Death---Euthyphro What does philosophy discover besides definitions?
30 SEMINAR DAY—NO NEW READINGS Material from previous classes.
4 Trial and Death---Apology Socrates' mission and society. How philosophy is different from rhetoric.
CHANGE FROM PAPER SYLLABUS FOR SEPT. 6 and 11:
Here's the revised agenda:
6 September Seminar Day/Extra Credit lecture(s): NO REGULAR CLASS WILL MEET. Instead there will be a lecture at noon at the Tivoli Turnhalle. Details on an extra credit are posted on Blackboard.
11 Trial and Death---Apology Socrates' project for philosophy: search for truth and meaning in life through critical dialogue.
13 Trial and Death---Crito How are ethics and legal laws related? When is disobedience against the law morally justified?
18 Trial and Death---Crito; Phaedo At the end of his life, does Socrates fear death? Why do his followers react to his impending death the way they do?
20 Martin Luther King, Jr. "Letter from a Birmingham City Jail" (on Blackboard site)? How does King justify disobedience of U.S. law? Is King like Socrates in this regard?
25 SEMINAR DAY—NO NEW READINGS Material from classes since last seminar day.
27 Review for First Exam Bring your questions about material covered so far...
2 EXAM 1 Covering material since start of course
4 FILM Advertising and the End of the World 48 minutes--How are stories about meaningful life and happiness communicated in our culture? What stories are crowded out?
9 200-202 "The Experience Machine" by Nozick and 185-189 (Pleasure and Desire, an excerpt from Plato's Gorgias) -- What is valuable in life? Is there more to life than appearance or sensation? What do our habits as consumers tell us about our values and priorities? Socrates' argument that pleasure is not equivalent to good.
11 xiii-24, Overspent American by Juliet Schor --What are the costs to real happiness and meaning from advertising and consumption?
16 Schor, 66-109, Overspent American.
How are stories about meaningful life and happiness communicated in our culture? What stories are crowded out?
18 SEMINAR DAY—NO NEW READINGS Material from classes since last exam.
23 97-109 "The Vanity and Suffering of Life" by Schopenhauer Life's meaning is not illuminated by understanding pleasure, but by understanding the nature of suffering.
25 7-19 Ecclesiastes passage; "My Confession" by Tolstoy Existential crisis caused by ___? Tolstoy's solution of faith
30 SEMINAR DAY—NO NEW READINGS Material from previous classes.
1 "Pensées" by Pascal The wager. Making the rational case for trying religious life.
6 "The Purpose of Man's Existence" by Baier Questioning the appropriateness of religion for ethics
8 NO CLASS
13 "Man Against Darkness" by Stace--When God is not believable; the challenge to culture when religious belief becomes "hollow" and the role science plays in this phenomenon. and Review for Second Exam Bring your questions about material covered since last exam.
15 EXAM 2 Covering material since exam #1
27 "The Absurd" by Nagel Where does our sense of the "absurd" come from, according to Nagel?
29 "The Meaning of Life" by Taylor-- The Sisyphus myth and what makes life "meaningless."
4 "What Makes a Life Significant" by James What basic factors must exist for a life to be meaningful or significant.
6 REQUIRED SEMINAR DAY and review, take home EXAM out (comprehensive) Covering all material since start of course