Introduction to Philosophy - 1st year

Introduction to some of the basic philosophical problems and the various approaches to their solutions. The student will be exposed to traditional philosophical systems (mostly Western) with emphasis on how these systems approach and attempt to solve the problems confronting human existence. This course will take a thematic approach; questions explored may include: What is reality? What is knowledge? Is human nature good, bad or neutral?


By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of important philosophical terms such as: ontology, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, rationalism, empiricism, idealism, monism, dualism, pluralism, a priori, a posteriori, phenomenal world, and noumenal world;

2. Demonstrate knowledge of significant philosophical viewpoints;

3. Demonstrate their respect for different philosophical perspectives;

4. Demonstrate knowledge of the context from which a particular philosophical
viewpoint arose;

5. Critique some aspects of a philosophical position.


Given the thematic nature of this course it may vary, focusing primarily upon either epistemology or ontology. The course may also include an examination of any of the following areas: aesthetics, philosophical anthropology, free will and determinism, social philosophy, political philosophy and philosophy of mind. Each course will include:

1. Introduction. What is philosophy?

2. Basic overview of the major areas of philosophy

3. Examination of significant philosophical terms

Method of Instruction:

1. Lecture

2. Class Discussion

3. Small Group Work

4. Student Presentations

5. Library Work

6. Audio-Visual Media Resources

Types of Assignments:

1. Assigned readings in textbook and various handouts with questions on the reading

2. In-class writing on discussion questions followed by group discussion

3. Additional appropriate assignments may include library research in preparation for short papers, term papers, or oral presentations

4. Students must be able to take notes from the reading and lecture materials

5. Students must be able to write well-organized essays and/or reports reasonably free of major errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation

6. Students must be able to synthesize ideas from several sources and to make inferences regarding important points in papers and oral presentations

Sample Text:

1. Socrates to Sartre: A History of Philosophy. fifth edition. (Samuel Enoch Stumpf, Mcraw-Hill, 1993)

2. Thinking Through Zhuangzi (David Hall and Roger Ames, State University of New York Press)

3. The Classical Mind: A History of Western Philosophy. second edition (W. T. Jones, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1970)

4. Chuang Tzu: Basic Writings (translated by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press, 1996)