Phil 105 F19: Schedule and Syllabus

Philosophy 105: Contemporary Philosophy

Existentialism and Phenomenology

Fall 2019

CRN 15056 MW 9:35-11:00 Location: SB 212

Instructor Information  

Dr. Ian M. Duckles
Office Hours: MTWTH 9:00-9:30 am and 12:30-1:00 pm; or by appointment
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 in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  2. Utilize terminology as it is applied to a given school of philosophy or individual philosopher in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  3. Analyze, compare and contrast the basic concepts, principles and theories relevant to philosophical inquiry and discourse in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  4. Critically evaluate the arguments presented by a variety of 20th and 21st century philosophers.

  5. Trace the theoretical and practical consequences of the various philospophical schools in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  6. Analyze the ways in which one's own thoughts are influenced by philosophers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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 philosophy of the 20th and 21st Centuries, 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 philosophy of the 20th and 21st Centuries, 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 are two texts required for the course:

  • Basic Writings of Existentialism. Ed. Gordon Marino. Modern Library, 2004. ISBN: 9780375759895
  • Thoreau, Henry David, Walden. There are many versions of this work available both online and through bookstores. Just acquire a copy of this work in some format. 
Students taking the course for Honors Credit have an additional reading list that can be found here
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. All readings are from Marino unless otherwise indicated. 

Week 1: Introductions

Monday, August 19: Introduction to Philosophy

Wednesday, August 21: Introduction to Existentialism and Phenomenology; readings from Kant and Hume distributed in class. 

Week 2: Kierkegaard

August 26: Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Problema I (7-23)
Homework Due: What does Kierkegaard means by a "teleological suspension of the ethical?"

August 28: Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Problema II (24-39)

Week 3: Kierkegaard

September 2: NO CLASS!! LABOR DAY!!

September 4: Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death (41-105)
Homework Due: Identify some problems with Kierkegaard's account of the religious in Fear and Trembling

Week 4: Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai    

September 9: Watch film in class; Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai 
Homework Due: Read through the taxonomy of despair and try to identify forms of despair that are recognizable to you (maybe you know someone who exhibits those characteristics or you see them in yourself). 

September 11: Continue and discuss film

Week 5: Nietzsche   

September 16: Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, First Essay (111-144)
Homework Due: Identify some of the major differences and similarities between master and slave morality.  

September 18: Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals, Second Essay (145-187)
Homework due: How do the evaluative systems of "Good and Bad" and "Good and Evil" differ from one another? How is the "good" of the masters different from the "good" of the slaves? 

Week 6: EXAM

September 23: Review for Exam

September 25: EXAM 1

Week 7: Thoreau

September 30: Thoreau, Walden.

October 2: Thoreau, Walden continued

Week 8: All That Heaven Allows

October 7: Watch film in class: All That Heaven Allows

October 9: Continue and discuss film

Week 9: Phenomenology and Husserl

October 14: Husserl, readings here 

October 16: Husserl continued

Week 10: Heidegger

October 21: Heidegger, Being and Time (299-336)
Homework Due: What does Heidegger mean by "Dasein"? Why is his choice of this concept significant? 

October 23: Heidegger continued
Homework Due: How is an authentic being-towards-death different from an inauthentic being-towards-death? 

Week 11: Sartre

October 28: Sartre, "Existentialism" (341-368)

October 30: Sartre, Being and Nothingness (369-409)
Homework Due: In the "Existentialism" essay Sartre discusses three moods: Anguish, Abandonment (Forlornness), and Despair. Explain each of these. 

Week 12: Sartre

November 4: Sartre continued
Homework Due: What does Sartre mean by "Bad Faith"? Why is Freud's theory of the unconscious unable to account for bad faith? 

November 6: Review for Exam 2

Week 13: EXAM

November 11: NO CLASS!! VETERANS DAY!!

November 13: EXAM 2

Week 14: de Beauvoir

November 18: de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity (413-436)

November 20: de Beauvoir continued 

Week 15: Thanksgiving



Week 16: Essay


December 4: In Class Peer Editing
Homework Due: Bring two copies of a draft of your essay to class for in-class peer editing. 

Week 17: Wrap-Up

December 9: Wrap Up

December 11: Review for Final Exam, ESSAY DUE

Week 18: FINAL

December 16: FINAL EXAM

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

  • 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.

Grade Scale:

    ≥ 450 points = A
    ≥ 400 points = B
    ≥ 350 points = C
    ≥ 300 points = D
    < 300 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!
VotingIf you are not registered to vote, please register online today: choose the vote-by-mail option.
Ian Duckles,
Sep 30, 2019, 8:33 AM