David L. Hildebrand, Ph.D., Philosophy

Spring 2008 4740 Empiricism

Empiricism

PHIL 4740/5740-1

HUM 5984-2/SSC 5050-5

TR 04:00 PM - 05:15 PM

Description

UC Catalog: Consideration of the nature and importance of experience. The course will focus on British Empiricism, but additional themes which vary may include: American pragmatism, logical positivism, scientific empiricism, phenomenology of experience. Prereq: PHIL 3002 or PHIL 3022, a minimum grade of "C" in each previous Philosophy course, or consent of the instructor.

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In the late sixties, Jimi Hendrix asked, "Are you experienced?" With this loaded little question, Hendrix drew attention to two important dimensions of "empiricism": first, the basic idea that genuine knowledge comes originally from sense experience (not from abstract reasoning); second, that enlightenment depended in part on whether we could pay close enough attention to how we experience reality. We can call these two themes "the epistemology of experience" and "the phenomenology of experience."

This course will approach these two general themes by examining some of the main works of the British empiricists (e.g., Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Reid) as well as others who sought to correct and improve upon their empiricisms (e.g., William James and John Dewey). The writings of contemporary commentators may be consulted as well.Along the way, we’ll consider issues of historical context, such as how and why the British empiricists felt it necessary to respond to the rationalism of Descartes and Leibniz— and why the pragmatists believed that the Brits hadn’t been radical enough in their empiricism.

We will also tackle a swarm of philosophical problems associated with empiricism: how can we know there really is an external world (or other minds) outside of our own? Is there really more to reality than what our senses report? Is there something solid, like a "self" inside of me, or is "self" just a passing show? Just to be thorough, we’ll likely consider the persistence of our self-identity, the relation of reason and emotion, the ground of our universal terms, the nature of substance, the role of a priori knowledge, the distinction between appearance and reality, and the methods by which we try to examine the character of our experience.

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.

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.

 Texts

Should be available at Auraria bookstore, Big Dog Textbooks, 1331 15th Street, , 303-893-2443, and, if you desire, online. If you buy your book online, make sure (1) that it is the correct edition, and (2) that you have it in time for class.

RMP--Readings In Modern Philosophy, Vol. 2, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Associated Texts, edited by Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins (Hackett, 2000); ISBN: 0-87220-532-0 [only text you need to buy]

COURSE BLACKBOARD SITE: the MAIN site for online readings will be posted here: https://blackboard.cuonline.edu.

MY WEBSITE: additional readings may also be available at my web site: http://davidhildebrand.org/index.php?page=teaching/courses/empiricism2005.htm

Evaluation

Participation/Presentation---20 %

Short Writings (10 total)--15%

First Paper (1000-1300 words pages)--30 %

Second Paper (Undergrads: 1500-2000 words; Grads: 2500-3250 words)--35 % ====> Due 12/9 at noon in phil. dept. office.

Note: Graduate students will be graded as graduate students. See me with any questions about this.

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.

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.

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.

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: More than two unexcused absences over the course of the semester will lower your final course grade, approximately 3 points per absence. (E.g., having three unexcused absences would lower a 90 course average to an 87, and so forth. An excusable absence is a medical illness or emergency that is completely unavoidable.

Participation/Presentation: 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. "Participation" can also include the following kinds of things: attendance, e-mail dialogue, and participation in any group work we have.

Important: part of this grade will be determined by your presentation of your short papers: when called upon in class, you must demonstrate that you know what you wrote and why you wrote it; in other words, show clarity of thought, effective communication, and ability to field questions on your paper will all contribute to the participation portion of your grade. (I suggest looking over your short papers briefly before class to prepare.)

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. 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 try to set aside about 10 minutes shortly before class to look back over (skim-review) the readings and whatever you have written for that day.

Short Papers (10 total) The purpose of these assignments is to help you clarify your understanding of the readings and to help you think critically about the issues. Follow these instructions carefully, please. These assignments should be:

What to write on short papers:

Short papers should be: one-page, typewritten reactions or questions about some specific issue which you find compelling in the readings. Your paper must not simply sum up the reading or repeat points made there. (I.e., no book reports, please.) Rather, you must try to raise a question or discuss some original insight. You may use these papers to demonstrate your application of a concept/idea in the readings to an experience you have making or experiencing art, but the connection to the reading must be significant (and not a mere "jumping off" point. See the website link "Writing short, critical papers" for further hints about how to write a good paper.

The first paragraph should state in 1-2 sentences a summary of what the paper is about.

Only papers that are written on a reading or topic that will be discussed in the class immediately coming up are acceptable.

When to write short papers:

You must do 10 papers total and you may not hand in more than one paper on the same date. FIVE papers must be done by the course midpoint Oct. 7th. Students who have not done 5 papers by Oct. 7th will only be permitted to do 5 more papers.

You must come to class for a paper to be accepted.

Grading on short papers

Grade: This will be a “graded” assignment only in a loose sense; in other words it will be either S-satisfactory (100) or U-unsatisfactory (50). A zero (0) will be awarded if nothing (or next to nothing) is turned in.

TWO MAKE-UPS: If you get a Unsatisfactory on up to two papers, you may revise and resubmit them. The old grade will be dropped in favor of the revised paper's grade.

See the website link "Writing short, critical papers" for further hints about how to write a good paper.

Longer Papers: There will be two longer papers required for this class. You will need to start thinking about paper topics well before their due date. NO late papers without prior arrangements. You may email me at any time to discuss your progress on ALL papers/assignments or we can discuss them in office hours.

Style and citation help: A nice little layout of different citation styles can be found here.

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 and Technology: Turn off beepers and cell phones during class. Text messaging, web surfing, and other electronic distractions are prohibited and violation of this rule may result in expulsion from class with that expulsion counted against the class "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

Phone : 303-556-8558

E-mail: hilde@yahoo.com; Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office and Hours: Plaza M108; Hours TTh 12-1 and 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.

Office Hours, Contact Information

Contact Information

E-mail: hilde@yahoo.com

Phone : 303-556-8558

Website: http://davidhildebrand.org

Office and Hours: Plaza M108; Hours TTh 12-1 p.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.

Schedule of Readings

(A rough schedule. Subject to revision. I will let you know in each class

if something different from the syllabus is coming up.)

Date--Source--Topic, Reading, Assignments

AUGUST

T Aug 12--Introduction to class

Th Aug 14--online --Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry, Empiricism

Dewey "Empirical Survey of Empiricisms"

T Aug 19 --online --Descartes, Meditations III and 5 (Focus: upon how Descartes relies on ideas which do not derive from sense experience). NOTE: I prefer the Cress translation but have posted the free one by Veitch online.

Th Aug 21 --online --"Where do our ideas come from? Descartes vs. Locke" by Robert Adams

T Aug 26 --NO CLASS DNC

Th Aug 28 --NO CLASS DNC

SEPTEMBER

T Sep 2 --RMP --Brief look at Locke: Bk I chapter. 1-2 on innate ideas

Th Sep 4 --RMP --Brief look at Locke: Bk. II ch. 1 §1-5 (source of ideas); Bk. II ch. 8 § 8-19 (primary+secondary qualities); Bk. II ch. 23 § 1-5 (substance)

T Sep 9 --RMP--Locke to Berkeley; Berkeley 127-138 (up to Part I)

Th Sep 11 --RMP--Berkeley 138-149 (to §49)

T Sep 16--RMP--Berkeley 149-157 (to §87)

Th Sep 18--RMP--Berkeley 157-165 (to §118)

T Sep 23 --Unscheduled

Th Sep 25 --RMP--Hume 328-336 (up to §4); PAPER 1 DUE in CLASS

T Sep 30 --RMP--Hume 336—351 (up to §7)

OCTOBER

Th Oct 2 --RMP--Hume 351-359 (up to §8)

T Oct 7 --RMP--Hume 359-371 (up to §10)

Th Oct 9 --RMP--Hume 371-387 (up to 12 Deadline for first 5 short papers (of 10)

T Oct 14 --RMP--Hume 387-394 (to end)

Th Oct 16 --RMP--Reid 435-446

T Oct 21 --Unscheduled: Readings TBA

Th Oct 23--Online--From Empiricism to Radical Empiricism; William James: "Psychological Foundations: Habit"

"The current of life which runs in at our eyes or ears is meant to run out at our hands, feet, or lips. The only use of thoughts it occasions while inside is to determine its direction to whichever of these organs shall, on the whole, under the circumstances actually present, act in the way most propitious to our welfare." (James, "Reflex Action and Theism" in The Will to Believe)

THIS QUOTE ENCAPSULATES THE FUNDAMENTAL SHIFT IN OUR COURSE FROM HERE ON OUT. CAN YOU TELL ME WHY?

T Oct 28 --Online--James, "Stream of Thought"

Th Oct 30 --Online--James “Does Consciousness Exist”

NOVEMBER

T Nov 4--Online--James, “World of Pure Experience”

Th Nov 6 --Online--Dewey, "The Psychological Standpoint" in EW1

T Nov 11--Online--Dewey "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" EW5:96-109

Th Nov 13 --Online--Dewey, ""The Postulate of Immediate Empiricism”

T Nov 18 --Online--Dewey "Experience and Philosophic Method"

Th Nov 20 – NO CLASS

T Nov 25 & 27 --THANKSGIVING

DECEMBER

T Dec 2 --Online--Dewey, Qualitative Thought—

Th Dec 4 --Online--Qualitative Thought— LAST DAY OF CLASS

T Dec 9--Online-- Final paper due at noon in philosophy department office


Last updated Nov 21, 2010 03:23:PM