PHIL 104B S20: Schedule and Syllabus

All courses will be meeting in an online format starting the week of March 23. Check the main page and your email for details. 

Philosophy 104B: History of Western Philosophy 

Spring 2020

Section 21637    TTH 11:10-12:35    SB-211


Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MW 11:30-12:30; TTH 10:00-11:00
Office: Online in Zoom
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 Renaissance period through the 20th Century. Students in this course survey representative theories and philosophical reflections related to the history of philosophy in the Renaissance and/or Modern periods. 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 ObjectiveUpon 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:

  • Norman Melchert and David R. Morrow. The Great Conversation Vol. II. Oxford University Press, 2018. ISBN: 9780190670634 (An e-book is also available, you may also use an earlier edition or the one volume edition)
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 the 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, February 4: Introduction, What is Philosophy?

Thursday, February 6: Descartes (Chapter 17 through Meditation II)
Homework Due: Descartes discusses three forms of doubt in Meditation I. 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 11: Descartes, continued (Read Meditation III)
Homework Due: What do you think of Descartes argument for the existence of God?

February 13: Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley (Chapter 18)

Week 3: Early Modern

February 18: Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley 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 20: Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley Continued
Homework Due: How does Locke's conception of the social contract differ from Hobbes'?

Week 4: Early Modern

February 25: Hobbes, Locke, and Berkeley Continued
Homework Due: Explain Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities. What is the point or purpose of this distinction for Locke?

February 27: Hume (Chapter 19)
Homework Due: What is Berkeley's argument for the claim that "esse is percipi"? How does Berkeley define a thing or "physical" object? What accounts for the seeming Independence that objects or things have from us? 

Week 5: Early Modern

March 3: Hume Continued

March 5: Hobbes to Hume Continued
Homework Due: According to Hume, what is the source or origin of moral reasoning and judgment? 

Week 6: Exam

March 10: Review for Exam 

March 12: Exam 1

Week 7: Kant



Week 8: Kant

March 24: Kant (Chapter 20)

March 26: Kant Continued
Homework Due:
First Philosopher Report Due


March 31: NO CLASS!!

April 2: NO CLASS!!

Week 10: Hegel

April 7: Hegel (Chapter 21)
Homework Due: Explain Kant's criticism of the Ontological argument for God's existence (p. 483-485).

April 9: Hegl Continued
Homework Due: According to Hegel, how does consciousness become self-conscious? (p. 504)

Week 11: Kierkegaard and Marx

April 14: Kierkegaard and Marx (Chapter 22)
Homework Due: Create two long answer/short essay questions that cover Kant and Hegel. The questions should involve either comparisons of the two thinkers or get at an understanding of how these thinkers were influenced by other philosophers. These questions should be answerable in 1-2 pages. Do not answer them yourselves for this assignment

April 16: Kierkegaard and Marx Continued: Distribution of Exam (Take-home exam)
Homework Due: Explain the differences between the esthetic category of romantic love and the ethical category of marriage. What is at stake in the difference between these two?

Week 12: Exam

April 21: Open Class Period; Professor available on Zoom for questions (use the regular link for class)

April 23: Exam 2 Due via EmailOpen Class Period; Professor available on Zoom for questions (use the regular link for class)

Week 13: End of the 19th Century

April 28: Marx

April 30: Nietzsche (Chapter 24), Introduction of Paper Topic
Homework Due: According to Marx what will a communist society look like? Why didn't things unfold the way Marx and Engels thought they would?

Week 14: Nietzsche

May 5: Nietzsche Continued
Homework Due: Find examples of Apollonian and Dionysian works of art. Explain why you see those works of art as examples of these. 

May 7: Nietzsche Continued
Homework Due: Bring a copy of your thesis statement to class.  

Week 15: Frege, Russell, and Analytic Philosophy

May 12: Origins of Symbolic Logic and Analytic Philosophy (Chapter 26)
Homework Due: What is Nietzsche concept of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same? What function does it serve within his philosophical system?

May 14: Origins of Symbolic Logic and Analytic Philosophy Continued 
Homework Due: Bring three copies of a draft of your essay to class. Second Philosopher Report Due

Week 16: 20th Century Existentialism

May 19: Sartre and de Beauvoir (Chapter 28)
Homework Due: 
Create two long answer/short essay questions that cover the philosophers we have studied since Exam 2. One question should explore the relationship between these philosophers and the second question should explore the historical influences on these philosophers. These questions should be answerable in 1-2 pages. Do not answer them yourselves for this assignment.

May 21:  Sartre and de Beauvoir Continued, Distribution of Final Exam, Final Paper Due

Week 17: Final

May 26: Review for Final

May 28: Final Exam Due via email


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 and presentation for 25 points worth 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/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 18) due to excessive absences. Students who remain enrolled in a class beyond the published withdrawal deadline (April 17) 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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