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Summer 2017

101 - Introduction to Philosophy


Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: ARR

***  First Half Course ***

This completely online 4-week course of “Introduction to Philosophy” will introduce you philosophic wonder, thought, and thinking. We’ll read, think, question, discuss, and write about persistent philosophical questions, such as those about life's meaning, the existence of God, death, virtue, knowledge and truth, personhood, emotion, race and gender, rights and duties, freedom, and the philosophic life itself. The course covers a 16-week full semester course in four weeks. Expect to work the course daily during those four weeks. Required work includes readings, discussion thread posts, quizzes, journal entries, midterm and final exam. Course reading and written assignments will be due four or five days of each week. No textbook or text purchase required. You must have reliable Internet access, but no other special equipment is necessary.


Instructor: Jim Bodington
Time/s: ARR

***  Second Half Course  ***

In this course students will be introduced to several of the central questions of philosophy. We will see how our answers can and do shape our lives, and we will interrogate our all-too-often taken for granted beliefs. After an introduction to argumentation and philosophical methodology, we will look at issues of life and death, knowledge and perception, and justice, oppression, and (in)equality as they are addressed in the work of a number of great philosophers and involve ourselves in these perennial discussions.

156 - Reasoning & Critical Thinking


Instructor: Idris Robinson
Time/s: ARR

***  First Half Course  ***

In the first half of the course, students will learn to identify, construct, and critically assess arguments. Through a rigorous examination of the basic principles of reason, students will come to acquire the analytic skills necessary to both develop and evaluate the quality of an argument. The second half of the semester will be devoted to applying these skills in response to Alain Badiou’s contemporary rendition of Plato’s Republic. In Badiou’s hyper-translation, timeless themes, such as truth, justice, and knowledge, are refashioned in a colorful, modern garb: present-day allusions to iPods, soft-drinks, and sports-cars replace all of the Republic’s outdated ancient Greek references; and even Plato’s famous “cave allegory” is converted into a movie theater. While these aspects of Badiou’s version of the classic dialogue undoubtedly make it an enjoyable read, critical analysis and reasoning will allow us to determine whether Plato’s arguments can stand the test of time.

Texts: (1) William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, & Katheryn Doran, Critical Thinking: An Introduction to the Basic Skills (6th edition); (2) Alain Badiou, Plato’s Republic: A Dialogue in 16 Chapters.


Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

***  Second Half Course  ***

How can you tell if an argument makes sense? What separates a good argument from a bad one? In this online course, students will learn the skills necessary to construct, analyze, and critically assess arguments.  Beginning with the basic principles of reason and logic, students will acquire the abilities necessary to extract arguments from philosophical texts, evaluate the strength of these arguments, and craft written responses to them.  We will also be analyzing classic philosophical texts that have profoundly influenced the structure and development of Western civilization.
Required texts: Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Edition), by William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, Katheryn Doran (Broadview Press).   Elements of Style (4th Edition), by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, (Pearson)

202 - Descartes to Kant


Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: 9:30-12:00 MTWR

***  First Half Course  ***

In the seventeenth century, René Descartes, the founding figure of modern philosophy (a period in the history of philosophy running from the 1600s to the beginning of the twentieth century), initiated a revolutionary reorientation of Western philosophy by centering intellectual attention on the individual human subject as a knowing being. Descartes’s work launched a series of discussions about how we know what we claim to know about the fundamental nature of reality, discussions that continue up through the present. This course will focus on issues pertaining to epistemology (i.e., that part of philosophy concerned with constructing a theory of knowledge) and ontology (i.e., that part of philosophy concerned with constructing a theory of being) in the modern period, starting with Descartes and concluding with Immanuel Kant (late eighteenth century). In particular, we will occupy ourselves with an exploration of, first, the distinction between the two basic epistemological orientations in modern philosophy, namely, rationalism and empiricism (as well as Kant’s attempted overcoming of these opposed orientations), and, second, the ontological alternatives between monism and dualism, nominalism and metaphysical realism, and materialism and idealism. Additionally, a series of other related questions and problems will be explored, such as: the relation between mind and body, the essence of personal identity, the existence of human freedom, the role of science as a means of access to reality, and various conceptions of truth. The authors from this period we will read are: Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Arnauld, Pascal, Spinoza, Leibniz, Boyle, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant.