Phil 103 F19: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 103: Historical Introduction to Philosophy

Fall 2019

CRN 10665 TR 11:10-12:35 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MTWTH 9:00-9:30am and 12:30-1:00pm
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.

Course 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.

Requisites and Advisories: Advisory: ENGL 101 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6; or ENGL 105 with a grade of "C" or better, or equivalent or Assessment Skill Level R6/W6.

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 20: Introduction, What is Philosophy?

Thursday, August 22: The Pre-Socratics and the Sophists (Chapter 2)

Week 2: The Ancient Greeks

August 27: Pre-Socratics and Sophists Continued
Homework Due: What is Parmenides' account of the fundamental nature of reality? What is his argument for this position?

August 29: Socrates (Chapter 3)
Homework Due: Explain one version of Zeno's Paradox. 

Week 3: The Ancient Greeks

September 3: Socrates Continued
Homework Due: What are some considerations in favor of relativism? What are some problematic implications of relativism?

September 5: Plato (Chapter 4)
Homework Due: On pages 71-72 Socrates presents his vision of the role of the philosopher. Explain it. 

Week 4: The Ancient Greeks

September 10: Plato Continued
Homework Due: Explain Plato's Allegory of the Cave. What conclusions are we supposed to draw from this Allegory? 

September 12: Aristotle (Chapter 5)
Homework Due: Identify and explain one major criticism of Plato's Theory of Forms. 

Week 5: The Ancient Greeks

September 17: Aristotle Continued 
Homework Due: What is Plato's account of Justice in the individual? How is this related to his account of Justice in the the state? 

September 19: Aristotle Continued
Homework Due: Explain Aristotle's four causes. Illustrate this with an example. 

Week 6: Exam

September 24: Review for Exam

September 26: FIRST EXAM

Week 7: The Ancient Greeks

October 1: Aristotle (Chapter 5)

October 3: Aristotle Continued
Homework Due: What is the function of an American citizen? Come up with a virtue for an American Citizen using Aristotle's framework for virtues.  

Week 8: Medieval Philosophy

October 8: Medieval Philosophy (Chapter 8)
Homework Due: How does Augustine refute skepticism?

October 10: Medieval Philosophy Continued; First Philosopher Report Due

Week 9: Modern Philosophy

October 15: Descartes (Chapter 9), Link to Descartes' Meditations

October 17: Descartes Continued
Homework Due: In Meditation I, Descartes considers three increasingly radical forms of doubt. For each form of doubt, what is the nature of that doubt, what beliefs does that form of doubt call into question, and what beliefs (if any) survive that from of doubt. 

Week 10: Modern Philosophy

October 22: Hobbes to Hume (Chapter 10)
Homework Due: What is the point that Descartes makes in Meditation II with his account of the ball of wax? 

October 24: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: Describe Hobbes' account of the state of nature. According to Hobbes, what is so bad about this state? 

Week 11: Modern Philosophy 

October 29: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: What are some of the main disadvantages of democracy? What are some of the main advantages of a monarchy? 

October 31: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: What is the Principle of Induction? What is Hume's criticism of this Principle?

Week 12: Exam

November 5: Review for Exam

November 7: EXAM 2

Week 13: Modern Philosophy

November 12: Kant (Chapter 11)

November 14: Kant Continued

Week 14: Existentialism

November 19: Existentialism (Chapter 14)
Homework Due: According to the textbook, what are the main themes of existentialism? 

November 21: In-class peer editing; Existentialism Continued; Second Philosopher Report Due
Homework Due: Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class.

Week 15: Thanksgiving

November 26: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

November 28: NO CLASS!! Thanksgiving

Week 16: Existentialism and Post-Modernism

December 3: Existentialism Continued

December 5: The Contemporary Period (Chapter 17) Final Paper Due

Week 17: Post-Modernism

December 10: Review for Final Exam

December 12: Final Exam

Assignments: Your grade in the course will be out of 550 points and will be based on the following assignments:

  • Exam 1: 100 points.
  • Exam 2: 100 points.
  • Final Exam: 100 points.
  • Philosopher Reports: 50 Points. You will write two reports on two different philosophers that we do not discuss in class. Each report is worth 25 points. More information on this assignment can be found on the course web page. You may do one additional report for 25 points of extra credit. 
  • Final Paper and Pre-Writing: 50 points. More information on this assignment will be provided later.
  • Homework and In-Class Exercises: 50 points. Each homework assignment will be worth 2.5 points. These are due at the start of the class for which they are assigned. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • Pop Quizzes: 100 points. Each quiz will be worth 10 points. These will be given at the start of class and will cover material from the previous class. They cannot be made-up if missed, but I will drop the lowest quiz score.

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 495 points = A
    ≥ 440 points = B
    ≥ 385 points = C
    ≥ 330 points = D
    < 330 points = F

Student Responsibility to Drop/Withdraw
It is the student’s responsibility to drop all classes in which he/she is no longer attending. It is the instructor’s discretion to withdraw a student after the add/drop deadline (August ??) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the withdrawal deadline, as stated in the class schedule (October ??), will receive an evaluative letter grade in the class.

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 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 academic accommodations should discuss options with their professors during the first two weeks of class. You should also contact DSPS. DSPS can be found at or they can be contacted by phone at 619-388-2780.

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!
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