Phil 102A S12: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 102A: Introduction to Philosophy: Reality and Knowledge

Spring 2012

CRN 91855 MW 9:35-11 AM Location: H-306

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: Mondays 11-12:00 in H-302

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.

Class Schedule: 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

Monday, January 23: Introduction
Wednesday, January 25: Al-Ghazali, "Deliverance from Error" (pp. 311-318)

Week 2: Epistemology

January 31: Descartes, "Meditation I" (pp. 320-22)
February 2: Descartes, "Meditation II" (pp. 323-26)

Week 3: Epistemology

February 6: Continue Descartes
February 8: 
Hume, "An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (pp. 328-333)

Week 4: Epistemology

February 13: Watch film in class: 12 Angry Men (1957)
February 15: Continue Film

Week 5: Exam

February 20: NO CLASS!!
February 22: 
FIRST MIDTERM Review for Exam

Week 6: Metaphysics

February 29: Laozi, "Dao De Jing" (pp. 414-421)

Week 7: Metaphysics

March 5: Plato, "The Republic" (pp. 423-430)
March 7: Continue Plato

Week 8: Metaphysics

March 12: Berkeley, "The Principles of Human Knowledge" (pp. 441-445)
March 14: Valadez, "Pre-Columbian Philosophical Perspectives" (pp. 446-451)

Week 9: Metaphysics

March 19: Watch film in class: eXistenZ (1999)
March 21: Continue Film

Week 10: Exam

March 26: Review


April 2: NO CLASS!!
April 4: NO CLASS!!

Week 12: Free Will

April 9: Taylor, "Freedom and Determinism" (pp. 459-471)
April 11: Continue Taylor

Week 13: Free Will

April 16: Blatchford, "Not Guilty" (pp. 473-477)
April 18: Sartre, "Existentialism" (pp. 478-485)

Week 14: Free Will

April 23: Radhakrishnan, "Karma and Freedom" (pp. 486-89)
April 25: Waller, "Chanelle, Sabrina, and the Oboe" (pp. 491-502)

Week 15: Free Will

April 30: Watch Film in class: A Clockwork Orange (1971)
May 2: Continue Film

Week 16

May 7: Extra Day
May 9: In-Class Peer Editing (Bring two copies of your rough draft to class)

Week 17: Exam

May 14: Review for Final
May 16: 
 FINAL EXAM (Final Paper Due)

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

  1. Weekly Quizzes: Almost every week there will be a quiz at the beginning of class on the material we covered the previous class. 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 Policies

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw: It is the student’s responsibility to officially add, drop, or withdraw from the course stated in the class schedule. Failure to do so can result in a failing grade.

Class Attendance: A student may be disenrolled from the course after two absences; however, a student will be disenrolled from the course after eight absences without exception. ATTENDANCE IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR THIS PARTICULAR COURSE.

Tardiness/Early Departure: If a student arrives unreasonably late or leaves early without notifying the instructor before the event, then that student will be considered absent for that class session.

Professionalism: It is assumed that students will conduct themselves in a professional manner with a positive attitude. An open mind is one of the most important tools required for success in academia. If a student is negative and feels as is there is nothing of value to be gained by the college experience or this course, he or she will not do well in this course.

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.

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.