PHL 1001A Western Philosophy 1 Honors Section RC308 CRN 97259
Thursdays 230-520 PM, Fall 2004
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org [All email to me should have "PHL1001" in the subject line]
Office Phone: 244-3349
Office: 330B RC (next to the computer lab)
Office Hours: T 430-530PM, W 130-230PM, R 1200-100PM
Historical Introduction to Philosophy: Texts and Interactive Guides, by
James Fieser and Norman Lillegard. (
First paper: 12%
Second paper: 24%
Third paper: 36%
Attendance and participation: 10%
Personal reflections (4): 10%
Aim of the course: This course will introduce you to some of the
central philosophical themes in western thought from ancient
Attendance: If you need to miss a class, you should notify me by phone or email before the class. Your attendance grade will suffer significantly if you miss classes without excuse. If you miss classes, you should request make-up work from me.
Participation: You should participate in class discussion, both answering questions that are put to the class, raising questions when you do not fully understand an idea or a part of the text, or what someone in the class says.
Paper 1. At least 600 words. Summarize the accusations against Socrates and his justification of his actions.
Paper 2. At least 1200 words. Answer ONE question.
1. Explain what it takes, according to Aristotle, to be a happy person. Explain what see as the least plausible part of his view.
2. Compare the ways that Plato thinks we can discover the nature of ultimate reality with those proposed by Aristotle. Focus your comparison on particular examples of knowledge and say how each philosopher would evaluate that knowledge.
Paper 3. At least 1800 words. Answer ONE question.
1. Compare the Epicurean and Stoic views on how to achieve happiness, and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
2. Explain and critically evaluate any two arguments for belief in the existence of God, as set out by Augustine, Aquinas and Pascal.
Plagiarism detection and prevention: All papers should be submitted via Turnitin.com or sent to me by email as an attachment in MS Word or RTF. I will give you information about how to use Turnitin.com. Note that I view any form of academic dishonesty very seriously, and if I find that you have engaged in any significant form of plagiarism or cheating I will fail you in this course and report my action to the Dean of Students.
The class ID for turnitin.com is "1151840"
Presentations: You must sign up to do a presentation in by the end of the Week 6. You can do a 10-minute presentation on your own, or a 20 minute presentation with another person. If you do a joint presentation, you will both get the same grade. You can use Powerpoint to do your presentation, but it is not required. However you do your presentation, you must keep it lively and interesting, and you should not simply read out from a pre-written text. You should provide some information that is not available in the course textbook. Your presentation will be assessed using the form available by clicking here.
Personal Reflections: These should be at least 400 words, in grammatical English. They will not be graded, but I will give you some feedback on them. You either get credit for them or you don't. They are not meant to be academically challenging, but are meant to give you the opportunity to link the topics of the class to your own life and ideas you have about how best to make decisions. It is up to you how much of your own personal experience you include, but you are encouraged to do so link your own life with philosophical discussions.
Classroom Etiquette. All cell phones ringers should be turned off and you should never talk on your cell phone in class. You should not eat any food in class, especially food that others will notice through sound or smell. You should turn up on time to all classes. Even if you are tired, you should stay awake and keep your eyes open. Your attention needs to be on the class, and you should not do other reading or work during the class. You are free to express your views and question the views of others, including your professor, and you can be passionate about your opinions. However, you must always treat others in the class with respect; you can criticize the views and arguments of others, but you cannot criticize them as persons. You should also make sure you are not dominating classroom discussion to the exclusion of other class members.
Schedule (Tentative and subject to revision)
Homer and the Old and New Testaments
The Pre-Socratics: Thales, Anazimander, Anaximenes
Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Heroclitus
Meno and Apology
Personal Reflection due: Assuming that the Pre-Socratics were not fools, how could they have come to hold theories that contradict common sense so clearly? Are some of their theories about the nature of the world more plausible to you than others?
Phaedo and the Republic
Paper 1 due.
Categories, Physics, On the Soul
Personal Reflection due: Plato does not defend personal freedom or equality of citizens in the state. Why should we take his ideas seriously? Is there anything valuable we could learn from his approach?
Hellenistic philosophical traditions: Epicureanism, Stoicism, Cynicism and Skepticism
Paper 2 due.
Personal Reflection due: Discuss one aspect of the views of the Hellenistic philosophers that particularly appeals to you.
Maimonodes and Aquinas
Humanism, The Reformation
Draft of Paper 3 due.
Paper 3 due.
Personal Reflection due: Is it possible to take a scientific approach to the whole of one's life?
What was everyday life like
What was everyday life like
What was the history of the
warfare between ancient
What were the major technological and engineering accomplishments of the Roman civilization?
Where did Christianity start and who were its early converts?
Compare the creation story in the Judeo/Christian Bible with the creation stories of other religious traditions.
What theories do Biblical scholars have about the authorship of the Old Testament?
Debate (requires 2 people): Was Jesus a philosopher?
How did Christianity become
such a widespread religion in
What evidence led the Copernican system of planetary movement to replace the Ptolemaic?
What did the Catholic Church do to fight the Copernican theory of planetary movement?
What were the major advances
in science due to
What did Michel de Montaigne write about cannibals?