Phil 102A S11: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 102A: Introduction to Philosophy: Reality and Knowledge

Spring 2011

CRN 96165 TTH 11:10-12:35 PM Location: H-303

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Description: This course is an introductory study of the aims, methods, types and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry. Emphasis is placed on the nature of reality and knowledge. Materials for this survey of philosophy may draw from classical and contemporary thinkers. Students are encouraged to articulate, analyze, and evaluate their own beliefs/positions in the context of meaningful philosophical inquiry. This course is intended for anyone concerned with human existence and humanity's place in the universe.

Texts: There is only one text for the class, and all readings are from it. The text is:

Voices of Wisdom, 7th edition. Gary E. Kessler ed. Wadsworth, 2007. 

Reading assignments can be found on the schedule.

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on three types of assignments:

  1. Weekly Quizzes: Almost every Tuesday there will be a quiz at the beginning of class on the material we covered the previous week. These quizzes will collectively be worth 20% of your grade. These quizzes cannot be made up if missed.
  2. Class Participation: This is worth 10% of your grade and is based on attendance and participation in class activities. Student who are very tardy or who leave early will be considered absent.
  3. Exams: There will be three exams (including the final) and each exam will be worth 20% of your grade in the course. The final exam will be comprehensive.
  4. Final Project: All students will complete a final project during the last few weeks of the course. Though this project is only worth 10% of your grade, failure to complete the project will result in an F in the course. More details about the project will be announced in class and on this site at a later date.  

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 90 = A
    ≥ 80 = B
    ≥ 70 = C
    ≥ 60 = D
    < 60 = F

Academic Integrity and Conduct: Mesa College students are bound by the Student Code of Conduct, Policy 3100.  In this course, cheating, plagiarism, disruptions of instructional activity, fraud and/or lying will result in, at a minimum, a grade of “F” for the assignment/test with no make up permitted.  Any of these infractions may result in an “F” for the course as well and formal disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs as described in the code (as published in the catalog or online).

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities who may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.


All readings can be found in Voices of Wisdom 7th edition. Page numbers refer to this edition. Reading assignments are subject to change and are expected to be completed for the day on which they are assigned.

Week 1: Epistemology

Tuesday, January 25: Introduction
Thursday, January 27: Al-Ghazali, "Deliverance from Error" (pp. 311-318)

Week 2: Epistemology

February 1: Descartes, "Meditation I" (pp. 320-22)
February 3: Descartes, "Meditation II" (pp. 323-26)

Week 3: Epistemology

February 8: Hume, "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (pp. 328-333)
February 10: Extra Day

Week 4: Epistemology

February 15: Watch film in class 12 Angry Men (1957)
February 17: 
Continue Film

Week 5: Epistemology

February 22: Review
February 24: 

Week 6: Metaphysics

March 1: Laozi, "Dao De Jing" (pp. 414-421)
March 3: Plato, "The Republic" (pp. 423-430)

Week 7: Metaphysics

March 8: Continue Plato
March 10: Shankara, "The Crest-Jewel of Discrimination" (pp. 431-438)

Week 8: Metaphysics

March 15: Berkeley, "The Principles of Human Knowledge" (pp. 441-445)
March 17: Extra Day

Week 9: Metaphysics

March 22: Valadez, "Pre-Columbian Philosophical Perspectives" (pp. 446-451)
March 24: 
Extra Day

Week 10: Metaphysics

March 29: Watch film in class eXistenZ (1999)
March 31: Continue Film

Week 11: Metaphysics

April 5: Review

Week 12: Philosophy of Science

April 12: William K. Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief" and William James, "The Will to Believe" (pp. 335-342)
April 14: Extra Day

Week 13: Spring Break!!

April 19: Spring Break!
April 21: Spring Break!

Week 14: Philosophy of Science

April 26: Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Fixation of Belief" (pp. 364-370)
April 28: Peirce Continued

Week 15: Student Choice

May 3: Karl Popper, "Conjectures and Refutations" (pp. 372-377)
May 5: Popper Continued

Week 16

May 10: Thomas Kuhn, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (pp. 379-390)
May 12: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 17

May 17: Review for Final
May 19: 
 FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)

TEN TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THIS COURSE (Thanks to Professor June Yang):

  1. Be optimistic about your ability to learn from the textbook, the instructor, and each other.
  2. Do all homework. It will be collected every time, and spot-checked.
  3. Do all assigned reading.
  4. If you find you fall behind in your understanding, contact the instructor.
  5. Be prepared to spend at least two hours per hour spent in class in order to master this material. If you do not, you probably will not receive a grade of C or better.
  6. Have confidence in your ability to do the work.
  7. Use all resources at your disposal.
  8. Remember that you are gifted with more education and intelligence than many persons on this planet. If you try, you are sure to get it, or at least most of it!
  9. Remember that we are all here to learn.
  10. Remember that you are being trained, or acquiring a skill. Studying, like anything else, is a craft, i.e. an activity. No one is born a good student; we must all transform ourselves into excellent students.