Introduction to Philosophy

PHI 150 OFFICE HRS: 11-12:00 M-F
Spring 1997 or by appointment
E-Mail: MAIL BOX: S301
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COURSE DESCRIPTION: An introduction to basic philosophical concepts and issues with emphasis on major philosophers and perspectives.

OBJECTIVES: Upon completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. define philosophy
  2. relate philosophy to contemporary society and apply philosophical analysis to contemporary issues
  3. develop an understanding of an anthology or writings authored by present and past philosophers concerning contemporary issues.


Wolff, Robert Paul. About Philosophy, 5th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1992.



Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 4th ed. New

York: The Modern Language Association of America, 1995.

The order and pace of assigned readings will depend upon the demands of the class and will be assigned at the discretion of the instructor. You will read at least three out of the four selections in Socrates and three or four of the Meditations.

REQUIREMENTS: Reading, analyzing, interpreting, writing, and arguing about texts are the basic activities of most college courses and of most managerial and professional careers. This is especially true of philosophy. As a discipline, one of its key characteristics, in my opinion, is that it is a public activity of entering into and continuing discussion on variously entertaining and, sometimes, important matters. To enter into this conversation, one must be able to read and discuss texts. To that end, you will be asked to write papers to accomplish certain tasks (see "Task Driven Writing Assignments"), since writing in everyday life is always done to fulfill some task.

The Papers: There will be 3 "Expository Essays" of 2 pages in length. These will be on (1) Socrates' Euthyphro, (2) his Phaedo, and (3) Descartes' Meditations. (These three essays combined will be 20% of your total grade)

In addition, there will be 3 "task-driven" papers of 4 pages in length. The 1st is an argumentative paper on Socrates'Crito and Martin Luther King's "Letter From a Birmingham Jail." The second paper is an analytical paper presenting the ideas of Rene Descartes and John Locke. The third and last task-driven paper will be an interpretative paper on Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre. (Each paper will be 20% of your total grade)

On select Fridays before papers are due, you will be given a chance to discuss your work in small group discussions and one-to-one meetings with the instructor.

Due dates for these papers are on the " Course Outline." The "Expository Essays" must be a minimum of 2 typed, double spaced pages and the "Task-driven Papers" a minimum of 4 pages. All papers must conform to the MLA Handbook rules for writing papers. Your grade will be determined in accordance with the guidelines in "Grading Standards." In the unlikely event that a paper might be late, please consult with the professor before the due date.

One of the desired outcomes for this course is to create lifelong learners. One tool required in the pursuit of this goal and for your continued academic success is an ability to do research. Thus, in addition to the three graded papers, all students will hand in a quarter long project, a bibliography, detailing the hard and electronic research resources in the area of philosophy of personal importance. Again, the citations of references must conform to the MLA Handbook. Detailed instructions will be given you on how to find and store sources from the World Wide Web. CFCC librarians will offer their support in how to find traditional, hard-copy resources. The first draft will be due April 7th, a Monday. Again, the citations of references must conform to the MLA Handbook. Final bibliography is due May 9th. (Counts as 20% of your total grade)

Class format is lecture-discussion. All assigned readings must be completed prior to class. Students are expected to critically participate in class discussion and participation (or lack thereof) can significantly affect one's grade. To encourage your attendance and participation, I will award 4 points to your final grade average, deducting 1 point per hour of absence.

The Syllabus: There are various ways to look at the first-day handout that have a profound relationship on how you view a course. Often, students think of the syllabus as a blueprint, analogous to an architect's drawing of a house. Such a conception leads to the conclusion that a course simply follows steps until one arrives at the end where one can measure the outcomes in relationship to the plans. I would urge you to think of the handout as a map. Like a blueprint, the map provides us with information necessary to arrive at our destination. But, the analogy of the map alerts us to the fact that a journey, like a course and all good education, is to be enjoyed and meaningful from the moment one begins the adventure, not simply when one arrives.

CAPE FEAR ATTENDANCE POLICY: CFCC policy requires 80% attendance. Thus, a grade of No Credit is issued on the 12th hour of absence, no exceptions. It is your responsibility to keep track of your absences.

GRADING: School wide grade scale is as follows:

A=100-92, B=91-84, C=83-76, D=75-68, F=67

No withdrawals will be given without a face to face consultation with the instructor and not at all 3 weeks prior to the end of the quarter (April 30th).

Class hrs. per week: 5 Quarter hrs. credit: 5 Prerequisites: none


Course Guide