Phil 103 F16: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 103: Historical Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2016

CRN 02451 TR 11:10-12:35 Location: SB 104

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 12:30-2:00, TTH 10:00-11:00
Office: SB 311-H
Phone: 619-388-2294

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the issues and problems exemplified in the process of meaningful activity in Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the present. Students in this course survey the major philosophers in their historical contexts. Materials may be drawn from classical and contemporary thinkers. Students are encouraged to engage in independent research, analysis and formulation. This course is intended for students pursuing studies in History and Humanities, and anyone interested in the history of philosophy. Associate Degree Credit & transfer to CSU. CSU General Education. IGETC. UC Transfer Course List. 

Course ObjectiveUpon successful completion of the course students will be able to:

  1. Describe the aims, methods, issues and problems associated with philosophy and philosophical activity from a historical perspective.
  2. Identify, define and/or describe the philosophical terminology or nomenclature commonly used to classify positions, methods/approaches associated with a historical approach to philosophy.
  3. Compare and/or explain/contrast basic concepts, principles and theories commonly meaningful to philosophical inquiry in their historical contexts.
  4. Critically evaluate the arguments for theoretical positions related to philosophical activity in historical contexts, such as the positions of Descartes, Kant, Sartre, and Rawls.
  5. Trace the theoretical and practical consequences of concepts, principles, and theories related to the philosophical inquiry in historical contexts.
  6. Critically evaluate their own beliefs in light of significant historical thinkers.
Student Learning Outcomes: Students who complete the course will be able to:
  1. Critical Thinking: Think critically in reading, writing, and/or speaking about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with an emphasis on the history of Western philosophy, thereby identifying problems, theses, arguments, evidence and conclusions;
  2. Communication: Write or speak about the aims, methods, types, and problems of philosophy and philosophical inquiry at an introductory level, with an emphasis on the history of Western philosophy, thereby addressing problems, formulating theses, making arguments, analyzing and weighing evidence, and deriving conclusions;
  3. Self-awareness and Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrate an ability to analyze one’s own beliefs/positions in the context of meaningful philosophical inquiry.

Textbooks: There is one text required for the course:

  • Vaughn, Lewis. Living Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9780199985500 (An e-book is also available)
Reading assignments can be found on the schedule.

Schedule: (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Do not be concerned if we fall ahead or behind on this schedule. The most important goal is that everyone understand the concepts and problems. This schedule is subject to change. All changes will be announced in class and posted on the course website. 

Week 1: Introduction

Tuesday, August 23: Introduction, What is Philosophy?

Thursday, August 25: The Pre-Socratics and the Sophists (Chapter 2)

Week 2: The Ancient Greeks

August 30: Pre-Socratics and Sophists Continued

September 1: Socrates (Chapter 3)
Homework Due: What is relativism? What are some objections to relativism? 

Week 3: The Ancient Greeks

September 6: Socrates Continued
Homework Due: Explain Plato's story in the Apology about the Oracle at Delphi. What conclusions does Socrates want us to draw from this story?

September 8: Plato (Chapter 4)
Homework Due: What are some of the major criticisms of Plato's Theory of Forms? 

Week 4: The Ancient Greeks

September 13: Plato Continued
Homework Due: Explain the story of the Ring of Gyges? Why is this story significant? How do you think you would act if you had such a ring?

September 15: Aristotle (Chapter 5)

Week 5: The Ancient Greeks

September 20: Aristotle Continued 
Homework Due: Briefly explain the Four Causes in Aristotle. Come up with an example that illustrates them.

September 22: Extra Day

Week 6: Exam

September 27: Review for Exam

September 29: FIRST EXAM

Week 7: Medieval Philosophy

October 4: Medieval Philosophy (Chapter 8)

October 6: Medieval Philosophy Continued

Week 8: Medieval Philosophy

October 11: Medieval Philosophy Continued
Homework Due: Explain Anselm's Ontological Argument. What do you think of this argument? 

October 13: Medieval Philosophy Continued

Week 9: Modern Philosophy

October 18: Descartes (Chapter 9), Link to Descartes' Meditations

October 20: Descartes Continued
Homework Due: Read Meditation I in the PDF linked above. In this Meditation Descartes discusses three forms or types of doubt. Explain these three forms, and be sure to explain the beliefs that that form of doubt calls into question. 

Week 10: Modern Philosophy

October 25: Hobbes to Hume (Chapter 10)
Homework Due: In Meditation II, what is Descartes argument for his claim that the mind is better known than the body?

October 27: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework: Hobbes argues that the ideal political system is an absolute monarchy. Why would someone think that? What would be the benefits or advantages to the citizens living under an absolute monarch. What do you think the ideal political system would be? Why? 

Week 11: Modern Philosophy 

November 1: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: Come up with an essay question for the exam. The question should require that one engage with at least two philosophers we studied this unit. 

November 3: Review for Exam

Week 12: Exam

November 8: EXAM 2

November 10: NO CLASS!!

Week 13: Modern Philosophy

November 15: Kant (Chapter 11)

November 17: Kant Continued

Week 14: Thanksgiving

November 22: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 24: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 15: Existentialism

November 29: Existentialism (Chapter 14)

December 1: In-class peer editing. Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class. Existentialism Contiuned

Week 16: Existentialism and Post-Modernism

December 6: Existentialism Continued

December 8: The Contemporary Period (Chapter 17) Final Paper Due

Week 17: Finals

December 13:  Review for Final Exam 

December 15: Final Exam

: Your grade in the course will be based on your performance on the following assignments:

  • 20% Exam 1
  • 20% Exam 2
  • 20% Final Exam
  • 10% Final Paper: Though only worth 10% of your grade in the course, failure to complete this assignment or the associated pre-writing will result in an F in the course. More information on this assignment will be provided later in the semester.
  • 10% Homework: This is due at the start of the class for which it is assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • 20% Pop Quizzes: These will be given at the start of class and will cover the material from previous classes. They cannot be made-up if missed. 
Grade Scale:

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

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.

Attendance: During the first two weeks of class, students will be dropped for any absence. Starting during the third week, students may be dropped for missing two classes. In addition, students who arrive unreasonably late or leave unreasonably early will be marked absent.

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.

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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 and all the readings. The homework will be collected every time, and spot-checked, and the readings will help you understand the course material.
  3. Be prepared to spend time outside of class working on class material, doing readings, homework, preparing for quizzes and exams, etc.
  4. Ask questions if you don't understand something.
  5. 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!