Phil 104B S18: Schedule and Syllabus

Please note the updated schedule below.

Philosophy 104B: History of Western Philosophy 

Spring 2018

Section 99899    TTH 11:10-12:35    SB-211


Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 11:10-12:10; TTH 10:00-11:00; F 8:30-9:30
Office: SB-311H
Phone: 619-388-2294

Course DescriptionThis course is an introduction to the issues and problems exemplified in the process of meaningful philosophical activity related to the history of western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the close of the Medieval age. Students in this course survey representative theories and philosophical reflections related to the history of early western philosophy. 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 western philosophy.

Course Objective
Upon successful completion of the course the student will be able to:

  1. Describe the aims, methods, issues and problems associated with philosophy and philosophical activity from the Renaissance period through the 19th Century.
  2. Identify, define and/or describe the philosophical terminology or nomenclature commonly used to classify positions, methods/approaches associated with the history of Western philosophy from the Renaissance period through the 19th Century.
  3. Compare and/or explain/contrast basic concepts, principles and theories commonly meaningful to philosophical inquiry in the history of Western philosophy from the Renaissance period through the 19th Century. 
  4. Critically evaluate the arguments related to philosophical activity in their historical context in the history of Western philosophy from the Renaissance period through the 19th century, such as the positions of Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. 
  5. Trace the theoretical and practical consequences of concepts, principles and theories in their historical context from the Renaissance period through the 19th Century.
  6. Critically evaluate their own beliefs in light of the positions of significant thinkers from the Renaissance period through the 19th Century.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  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 to the end of the Medieval period, 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 up to the end of the Medieval period, 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 this class:

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

Schedule: (topics and important dates included): Homework will be due daily and assignments will be announced in class. Students should check tyhe course website (this one) regularly. 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, January 30: Introduction, What is Philosophy?

Thursday, February 1: Descartes (Chapter 9)
Homework Due: Descartes discusses three forms of doubt (section 9.3). What are those three forms of doubt? For each form, what beliefs are called into question? What beliefs survive that form of doubt?

Week 2: Early Modern

February 6: Descartes, continued
Homework Due: What is the Cartesian Circle? Why is this a problem for Descartes?

February 8: From Hobbes to Hume (Chapter 10)

Week 3: Early Modern

February 13: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a democracy? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a monarchy. 

February 15: Hobbes to Hume Continued

Week 4: Early Modern

February 20: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: Explain Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities. What is the point or purpose of this distinction for Locke?

February 22: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: What are Berkeley's arguments against Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities?

Week 5: Early Modern

February 27: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: Explain Hume's account of the source of our idea of Causality/Cause and Effect.

March 1: Hobbes to Hume Continued

Week 6: Exam

March 6: Review for Exam 

March 8: Exam 1

Week 7: Kant

March 13: Kant's Revolution (Chapter 11)

March 15: Kant Continued
Homework Due: Explain one of the Formulations of the Categorical Imperative that Kant articulates. How does he use this to show that it is wrong to make a lying promise?

Week 8: Mill

March 20: John Stuart Mill and Utilitarianism (Chapter 12)

March 22: Mill Continued
Homework Due: Identify one objection to utilitarianism. How might a utilitarian respond to that objection?


March 27: NO CLASS!!

March 29: NO CLASS!!

Week 10: Hegel and Marx

April 3: Mill Continued

April 5: Hegel and Marx (Chapter 13)

Week 11: Hegel and Marx

April 10: Hegel and Marx Continued

April 12: Hegel and Marx Continued

Week 12: Exam

April 17: Review for Exam

April 19: Exam 2

Week 13: Existentialism

April 24: Existentialism (Chapter 14)

April 26: Existentialism Continued; Introduction of Paper Topic

Week 14: Contemporary Philosophy

May 1: Existentialism Continued

May 3: The Contemporary Period (Chapter 17)
Homework Due: Bring a copy of your thesis statement to class.  

Week 15: Contemporary Philosophy

May 8: The Contemporary Period Continued
Homework Due: Explain the three "existentials" that Heidegger discusses.

May 10: In-class peer editing. 
Homework Due: Bring three copies of a draft of your essay to class. Continue Discussion

Week 16: Contemporary Philosophy

May 15:  Frege 
Homework Due: What is Russel's paradox? Why is it significant in the history of philosophy? 

May 17:  Frege, Final Paper Due

Week 17: Final

May 22: Review for Final

May 24: Final Exam

: Your grade in the course will be out of 500 points and will be based on the following assigments:

  • Exam 1: 100 points.
  • Exam 2: 100 points.
  • Final Exam: 100 points.
  • 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:

    ≥ 450 points = A
    ≥ 400 points = B
    ≥ 350 points = C
    ≥ 300 = D
    < 300 = F

Student Responsibility to Drop/WithdrawIt 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 (February 9) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the published withdrawal deadline (April 13) 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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