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101 - Introduction to Philosophy
Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
*** First Half Online 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: Marcel Lebow
*** Second Half Online Course ***
The discipline of philosophy is given short shrift in our culture today. Considered just haphazard opining, philosophizing is thought at best to be a statement one gives at a dinner party. One tells of "their philosophy," which inevitably amounts to a series of platitudes dressed up in long pauses and distant gazing. Otherwise, philosophy, it is said, has no place in contemporary society, and was just a series of lucky guesses and wild speculation only those in the past considered – a mere stand-in for a kind of thinking that the sciences now occupy.
Through a study of some of the classics of the Western philosophical tradition, this class aims to dispel such misconceptions and introduce one to the rigor and lasting relevance of the practice and study of philosophy. We will address questions that many of us wonder about at one time or another: Is there a god? What constitutes a good or evil act? Do we have souls? How do we know the external world exists? Does life have meaning?
What we will find is that philosophy at its finest delimits a field of investigation that, while informed by the sciences and other disciplines, can only be approached systematically through a kind of thinking unique to philosophy itself. Rather than a matter of paltry conjecture, philosophy puts limits on what we can say and think legitimately, and reveals to us certain possibilities of philosophical conclusion, separating from itself idle chatter and the remarks better left for books found in Barnes & Noble's quirky gifts section which predicate philosophy with one's favorite television show or movie.
This course will be reading intensive. All reading will be available online. Grades are based off of weekly quizzes, online discussions, and two exams.
156 - Reasoning & Critical Thinking
Instructor: Michael Candelaria
*** Second Half Online Course ***
On this course we will study the fundamentals of critical thinking to impart to the student not only theoretical knowledge of critical thinking but to enhance the student’s practical ability to think critically about the different kinds of claims and arguments people offer to persuade or convince the student to accept and affirm the beliefs that the speaker or writer is defending and promulgating. We will study the various types of language use and sentence expressions made in speech and writing. Along the way, we will study different types of definition and the difference between the use and mention of words, phrases, and sentences. The heart of the course is about constructing, reconstructing, analyzing, and evaluating arguments. Our examples will be drawn from everyday discourse, politics, scientific and legal reasoning, and moral and philosophical reasoning.
201 - Greek Thought
Instructor: Joachim Oberst
*** First Half Course ***
In this course we undertake a radical transition in historical perspective (of some 2000 to 2600 years) back to the foundations of Western Philosophy. Students are expected to engage in the discovery and exploration of ancient texts whose language, composition, style and philosophical substance will at first contact appear unusual and even strange. In many cases the text will look like an incomplete puzzle (which in fact they often are). Making sense of these texts will take some devotion on the part of the student. Through serious study and consultation of the texts, some of their manifold messages will become apparent. It is the goal of this course to introduce students to the original sources of their own thinking so that they can discover the extent to which current ideas are indebted to and imbedded in ancient Greek thought.
After a quick glance at Hesiod’s mythological worldview, we will literally start with the "first philosophers" known as the "Presocratics" and look at some of the fragments of their rich work that have survived more than two millennia. We will then move to the literary works of Plato and read a selection of his earlier and middle dialogues (on death and love). We shall see how important aspects of these ideas find exploration on the Greek stage as we look at some plays by Aristophanes (comedy) and Euripides (tragedy). In Aristotle we will discover an encyclopedic mind, who devoted his philosophical research to all aspects of (human) life. We will look at selections of his philosophical lectures on nature, language, physics and metaphysics. To conclude the course we will take a brief excursion into the Hellenistic world where we shall encounter the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Cynics and the Skeptics with their theological, epistemological and ethical worldview.
There is no prerequisite to this course. In addition to offering stimulation for intellectual development and personal enrichment through the philological treatment of texts, the course will prepare students to participate in other courses in philosophy and the humanities at large, especially in classics and the history of philosophy. The course can also be illuminating for students of the natural sciences.