Introduction to Philosophy

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Course Level:
Course Length:
14 - 16 weeks

Course Description

In this course we will explore the classic themes and origin of philosophy while placing it in it's modern context. We begin with the idea of philosophy as a rigorous science of the mind which gave birth to many other sciences. Authors will include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Des Cartes and Viktor Frankl. Where appropriate we will discuss Kant, British Empiricists, The Existentialist movement and the role of such thinkers as Mill, Locke and Rousseau in the formation of our Western ideas. Viktor Frankl will serve as an introduction of classic themes by a modern author. Some time will also be given to Ancient Eastern thinkers to show the similarity and some differences in the foundations of philosophy. Topics will include the search for meaning, life, death, freedom, the question of God. Students will be expected to briefly distinguish: Anthropology, Ethics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology and to understand the difference between Philosophy and Theology.

Required Texts

  • Plato, The Five Dialogues (Indianapolis)
  • Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics (Mayfield Publishing)
  • Descartes, Rene, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy (Indianapolis)
  • Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning Houghton Mifflin
  • J.S. Mill, Utilitarianism (Oxford)
  • Augustine, The Problem of Evil Enchridion
  • Aquinas, On Happiness
Ancient works are also available online as classics.

Readings and Classes

I. The Love of Wisdom and The Search For Meaning

  1. Introductory Lecture on Philosophy;Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning
  2. Frankl
  3. Plato, Apology
  4. Crito
  5. Allegory of the Cave and First Part Summary

II. Ethics

  1. Nichomochaen Ethics Bk 1
  2. Nichomochaen Ethics Bk 2
  3. Nichomochaen Ethics Bks 8,9,10
  4. Descartes Meditations 1,2,3 and The Advent of Modern Philosophy
  5. Utilitarianism and Various Ethical Systems J.S. Mill chapters 1, 9

III. God, Evil, Freedom

  1. Augustine, Enchridion
  2. Enchridion and the Problem of Evil
  3. Happiness and Philosophy, Aquinas
  4. Presentations

Course Requirements

Attendance and Class Participation account for 10% of the Grade and are considered essential. Absences will be treated according to the School policy. Each Student will be required to submit 3 one and a half page reflections on a topic from each section. These amount to 10% of the grade. Students will be required to give a 5-10 presentation on an approved topic. Presentations account for 20% of the grade. A final test equal to 40% of the grade will be given and a Final paper equal to 20% of the Grade will be required one week after the last class. Papers may be on an approved topic. Approved topics are those in the syllabus or as approved with the professor.

Extensions must be requested prior to due dates for all assignments.