Class Syllabus The Thinker by Auguste Rodin Instructor



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Philosophy 101

Class Syllabus


The Thinker by Auguste Rodin

 

Instructor: María Guadalupe Rojas Heaton


Email:
lupitamexus@yahoo.com
Textbook:(In order to have this textbook as soon as possible, you should pay for express shipping!)

The Philosopher's Way. Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas
by John Chaffee, Second or Third edition (either one of these editions is fine for this class), PEARSON Prentice Hall, 2009. ISBN-13: 978-0-13-614138-9 (for the second edition)
ISBN 13: 978-0-205-77699-3 (for the third edition)

About the textbook: One of the main reasons I have chosen this textbook its for its variety of exercises and activities that stimulate the critical and analytical thinking of the students in general. Both of the sections "Thinking Critically and Thinking Philosophically" provide the students the opportunity of enhancing their philosophical comprehension by analyzing and reviewing all kind of ideas, and at the same time to make their own critical interpretation about the world in which we live.
Philosophy is a humanistic discipline that deals with the nature of our own existence and with everything that makes us be what we are. In other words, philosophy is behind every science and human knowledge, it is a kind of "invisible support" that almost no one sees  but it is there.

Required film viewing:  Recently the price for the two texts I was using for this class went up...again.  I think this is highly unfair to students, so I dropped one of them.  Instead, I have begun to focus on film as an alternative to a written text.  Instead of the $120+ the second book was going to cost you, you will instead be responsible for watching  several films during the semester.  Many of these will be available for free viewing on YouTube.  However, you will need to rent some of them.  You may need to join a subscription service such as Netflix, or you may be able to pay for a streaming download from a service such as Hulu or Amazon.  Depending on which option you choose this should be substantially less than another $120 textbook.

Grading scale:  
40% Two essays, one due at midterm one due at the end of class. (These essays will be a minimun of 5 pages each)
30% Two exams, which will be a mixture of short essay questions and multiple choice. 
30% Participation in discussion groups
 


Week 1: January 16-22

What is Philosophy? Thinking Philosophically About Life and Becoming a Critical Thinker.
Why Study Philosophy? Philosophy Begins with Wonder. Qualities of a Critical Thinker.

This week we will focus on a brief introduction to the nature of this humanistic discipline.


During this week, please introduce yourself to the class, you also have to READ the TWO following sections, (that are mandatory for all of you in order to know the requirements for this class),
1. this Syllabus
2 the section Participation grades and how they are calculated
(located at the top of the main page)
(*We will start using the textbook next week, you MUST purchase it during this week*)

Read:
1. My lecture: What is Philosophy about? (including the article at the bottom of that page about "How to Read Philosophy").
2. "The Value of Philosophy" by Bertrand Russell (I will provide a link to this article)
3. "Becoming a Critical Thinker" by John Chaffee (I will provide a link to this article)

(My lecture notes and any reading materials that I link can be found in the weekly topic box on the main Moodle page)

For our discussion forum:
 Answer all of the preliminary questions about Philosophy and the other articles assigned for this week

 


Week 2: January 23-29

The Origins of the Greek culture (Homer and Hesiod) and the Pre-Socratics.
The Branches of Philosophy. Inductive and Deductive Arguments
** *We will start using the textbook during this week***

Read:
1. My lecture about The Pre-Socratics and the origins of the Greek culture
2. Why Study Philosophy? pages 4-10 (second edition) or pages 4-11 (third edition),  from The Philosopher's Way by John Chaffee
3. Understanding Arguments pages. 17-33 (second edition) or pages 16-34 (third edition) from  The Philosopher's Way (TPW).
( I will refer our textbook  as TPW for the rest of the semester.)

Log on to You Tube and watch:
Monthy Python: The Argument Clinic
Log on to HULU and watch::
 "The Backbone of Night" Episode 7 from Cosmos by Carl Sagan (58:36 mins)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer all of the  questions about my lecture, the readings and the videos.
 

Week 3: Jan. 30-Feb. 5

What Is the Philosopher's Way? Socrates and the Examined Life
This week we will focus on Socrates' Cure for Sleepwalking Through Life.

Read:
1. My lecture about Socrates' mission in life


2. Socrates and the Examined Life pages 43-63 (second edition) or pages 42-62 (third edition) from (TPW)

Log on to You Tube and watch:
"Socrates on Self-Confidence" by Alain de Botton

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the video
 

Week 4: February 6-12

What is the Philosopher's Way? The Trail and Death of Socrates and the Mob mentality
This week we will focus on the historical testimony written by Plato 25 centuries ago about Socrates'  trial  and execution in Athens. The legacy of an examined life and Mob mentality.

Read:
1. My lecture about Socrates' trial
2. The Trial and Death of Socrates pages 63-86 (second edition) or pages 63-79 (third edition) from (TPW)
3. The Trials of  Zeno of Elea, Lucio Anneo Seneca, Hypatia and Galileo Galilei
(I will provide a link for these articles)

 Movie for this week (it can be watch on You Tube)
Twelve Angry Men, Directed by Sidney Lumet, USA 1957. 1 hour 32 minutes.

For our discussion forum:
 
Answer the questions about Socrates' trial and the movie.
 

Week 5: Feb. 13-19

FIRST EXAM, February 13, 2012
Are There Moral Truths?. Thinking About Ethics
This week we will focus on Ethical Egoism. Plato, Socrates' beloved student dedicated his life to argue that  honesty is a good thing to achieve. Plato also wanted to warn us about  the dangers of corruption, and for illustrating this point  he used the legendary story of "The Ring of Gyges" which is the origin of the modern  trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" written by Tolkien.

Read: 
1. My lecture about Plato
2. Your Moral Compass and Ethical Relativism pages 413-430 (second edition) or pages 378-390 (third edition) from the (TPW)
3. Egoism as a Universal Principal and The Myth of Gyges pages 440-443 (second edition) or pages 400-403 (third edition) from (TPW)
4. Read several articles about the Sophists, Gorgias and the Lord of the Rings
(I will provide the links
for these articles)

Movie for this week: "The Trilogy of the Lord of the Rings"
All directed by Peter Jackson, 2002. If you haven't read these delighted and extraordinary books, enjoy the unique fantasy that Peter Jackson has captured for posterity by bringing the Middle Earth to the screen.

 Since these are 3 films,  they are divided  in two weeks, this week you have to watch:
The Fellowship of the Ring,
(if some of you live In Ridgecrest, my copy will be on RESERVE at Cerro Coso Library, you have to check it at the front desk)


For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film

 


Week 6: Feb. 20-26

February 21, Last day to withdraw this class with a "W"
The Rings of Power (Anthony, Gyges, Sauron and Frodo)

The platonic ideal that started 25 centuries ago, of being loyal to "ourselves" by not committing evil acts and overcoming moral corruption, was re-written by Tolkien in this extraordinary story of the Middle Earth, in which  the Hobbits from the Shire will determine the fate of many others.

Read:
1. Several articles about Plato and Tolkien in relation with the Rings
(I will connect the links for these articles)
2. Big Anthony and The Magic Ring by Tomi de Paola
(I will connect the link for this reading)


Movies for this week: "The Trilogy of the Lord of the Rings"
All directed by Peter Jackson, 2002. If you haven't read these delighted and extraordinary books, enjoy the unique fantasy that Peter Jackson has captured for posterity by bringing the Middle Earth to the screen.

This week you have to watch: (my copies will be on RESERVE at Cerro Coso Library)
The Two Towers and
The Return of the King

For our discussion forum:
 Answer the questions about the readings and the movies

 


Wk 7: Feb.27-March 4

Are You Free? Freedom and Determinism.
This week we will read about the complexity of human freedom  and our illusion of free agency. Why Do people Act as They Do? Because You Are Free... Paul Henri Thiry, Baron D' Holbach.

Read: 
1. My lecture about Baron d' Holbach
2. Are You the Master of Your Fate? and Baron d' Holbach, from The System of Nature pages 157-172  (second edition) or pages 140-153 (third edition) from (TPW).

Movie for this week:
Donnie Darko (USA 2001) 1 hour, 50 minutes. Directed by Richard Kelly

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film
 

Week 8: March 5-11

First Written Short Essay due date before midnight March 5, 2012
(The questions and the upload links for this paper will be posted 2 weeks before the dateline on the main page)

Are You Free? Indeterminism and Libertarianism.
This week we will continue with our exploration about freedom and the very different conception offer by W. James.

Read:
1. My lecture about William James
2. Indeterminism and Libertarianism. We Live in a World of Possibilities: James pages 182-195 (second edition) or pages 153-171 (third edition) from (TPW)

Movies for this week, choose only ONE:
A Clockwork Orange (1971), Great Britain; Dir. Stanley Kubrick

"2001, A Space Odyssey" Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968



For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the movie of your choice
 

Week 9: March 12-18

Asian Philosophies Buddhism. Gautama Siddharta (Buddha) 
This week we will explore the ancient wisdom of the East and the path of virtue.

Read:
1. My lecture about Buddhism
2. A couple of articles about Buddhism (I will provide a link for both of them)
2. "The Dhammapada" or the path of virtue (I will provide a link for this reading)

Log on to You Tube and watch:
"The Life of Buddha" Documentary 56 minutes

Movie for this week:
10 Questions for the Dalai Lama. Written and Directed by Rick Ray, USA, 85 mins. Documentary
See more about this movie on: www.thedalailammovie.com
How do you reconcile a commitment to non violence?
Why do the poor often seem happier that the rich?

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings, the video and the film
 

W10: March 26-April 1

 


     ***********************************************************
     *******************March 19-24 SPRING BREAK *************
    ************************************************************

Pre-Columbian Philosophical Perspectives
.
March 30. Last day to withdraw this class.

This week we will explore the cosmological conception of the Aztec world and the Aztec calendar . We will also study the Spanish Conquest and the "invention" of America.

Read:
1. My lecture about Pre-Columbian civilizations
2. "The Rise and Fall of the Indian World" from the book The Buried Mirror by Carlos Fuentes.  (I will provide a link for this article)
3.
"The Process of Invention" from the book The Invention of America by Edmundo O'Gorman     (I will provide a link for this article)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about tall of he readings

 


Week 11: April 2-8

What Is Social Justice? Creating a Just State
This week we will read about social and political philosophy and about how our modern world was shaped at the end of the XIV century.

Read:
1. My lecture about Karl Marx
2. Justice Is Based on Need and Ability: Marx and Engels pages 588-599 (second edition) or pages 533-543 (third edition)  from (TPW)
3. An article about Karl Marx and Engels (I will provide a link for this article)

Log on to You Tube and watch:
"Point of View" chapter 3 from The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke
"Credit Where It's Due" chapter 6 from The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke

Movies for this week: Choose only ONE, all of them explore different aspects of Capitalism.
Metropolis, Directed by Fritz Lang (Germany 1926) 2 hours.

The Corporations, written by Joel Balkan, Directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbot, 2003, 145 minutes. (it can be watch on You Tube)

The End of Poverty, written and directed by Phillipe Diaz, 2008, 106 minutes.
(it can be watch on You Tube)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the reading and the ones about the film of your choice
 


Week 12: April 9-15

How Can We Know the Nature of Reality? Plato: The Allegory of the Cave.
This week we will start with our epistemological enquiry about the fundamental question of How do we know? and How can we be sure that what we know is "true"?

Read:
1. My lecture about Plato's epistemology
2. Plato: Reality Is the Eternal Realm of the Forms  and the Allegory of the Cave pages 221-236 (second edition) or pages 196-209 (third edition) from (TPW)

Movie for this week:
The Truman Show (USA 1998) 1 hour, 45 mins. Dir. by Peter Weir
(my copy will be on RESERVE at Cerro Coso Library)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film
 

Week 13: April 16-22

SECOND EXAM April 16, 2012
How Can We Know the Nature of Reality? Can Reality Be Known? Descartes
This week we will continue looking for the origin of our human knowledge. Descartes, the French rationalist says that  we can perform  mathematical  operations because we have an innate capacity of induction-deduction.

Read:
1. My lecture about Descartes
2. Can Reality Be Known? Descartes and the two Meditations on First Philosophy pages 242-256 (second edition) or pages 215-227 (third edition) from (TPW)

Log on to You Tube and watch:
"Infinitely Reasonable" chapter 7 from The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke

Movies for this week, choose only ONE:
The City of Lost Children (France 1995) 1 hour, 52 mins. Dir. by M. Caro and J. P. Jeunet
(my copy will be ON RESERVE at Cerro Coso Library)

Waking Life, 94 mins., 2001, Written and Directed by Richard Linklater


(it can be watch on You Tube)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film of your choice
 


Week 14: April 23-29

What Is Real? What Is True? Further Explorations
This week we will study the empiricist answer about the fundamental question of How do we know? For the empiricists all of our human knowledge starts with experience, they believe that we are born with a "Tabula Rasa" and empty mind voided of all kind of notions a priori.

Read:
1. My lecture about John Lockes'  and Bertrand Russell,
2."Appearance and Reality" by Bertrand Russell pages 268-274 (second edition) or  pages 240-245 (third edition) from (TPW)
3. "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" by John Locke  pages 274-288 (second edition) or  pages 245-257 (third edition) from (TPW)

Movie for this week:
The Miracle Worker, (USA 1962) 1 hour, 47 minutes. Directed by Arthur Penn.
(my copy will be on RESERVE  at Cerro Coso Library)

For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film
 

Wk15: April 30-May 6

:What Is Real? What Is True? Further Explorations  
This week we will study another approach to the nature of our knowledge, the feminist philosopher Alison M. Jaggar takes a look to the social role or our very human emotions.

Read:
1. My lecture about Alison M. Jaggar
2. Emotions Shape Our Understanding: Jaggar pages 326-336 (second edition) or pages 294-302 (third edition) from (TPW)

Movie for this week:
Gaslight, (USA 1944) 1 hour 53 minutes, Directed by George Cukor. 
(my copy will be on RESERVE at Cerro Coso Library)


For our discussion forum:
1. Answer the questions about the readings and the film

 


Week 16: May 7-12

Second Short Essay due date before midnight May 8, 2012.
(The questions and the upload links for this paper will be posted 2 weeks before the dateline)
Final comments and good bye to everyone

.

 


Important: Your papers, (short essays), will need to be written in Microsoft Word (.doc).  If you use any other program you should save your file in Rich Text Format (.rtf) or I will not be able to read it and you will not receive credit for it!  Papers should be in a standard font like Times New Roman, 12 point or smaller, with 1" margins on all sides.

Essays:  You will be responsible for written  2 short essays minimun of five pages each one .  Rather than post that information here, you can find it on the lecture page the week before it is due.  The topics of these will be posted shortly.  The length will be a minimum of 5 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font.  Pay close attention to the due dates, because late work is graded down one letter grade per day. 

Exams: The exams will be a mixture of short essay questions and multiple choice, and they will be on weeks 5 and 13.

Participation in discussion groups:  Basically this means that you are logging on to the class, that you are using the discussion groups, and that you are commenting on the issues we are discussing, or creating your own original discussion thread for others to respond to.  People who show up in my 'regular' classes day to day unprepared and unable to comment on the readings I would consider to be not participating, and the same holds true for this class.  

In general you should log on to the class at least 3 times per week minimum, post your answers and comments on three different days.  You should write a substantial amount of material on the discussion page.  On my screen the above line was 25 words which means that just 20 lines would be 500 words.  It sounds like a lot, but once you start writing and voicing your opinion it really isn't.  I do not want to set a fixed number of words or lines or number of posts you should make per week.  Someone could say something profound in just a few lines whereas someone else could spew out 100 lines of garbage and nonsensical ramblings just to be able to say that they have posted.   Also, some people (just like in a class) prefer to write (or comment) much more frequently whereas others may be a bit more shy or nervous about being so open about their feelings.  Nevertheless, since it is such a large part of your grade a good round number to aim for in your postings would be around 500 words  minimum per week, spread out over the week (not all at one session squeezed in on the last day of the week because you forgot to logon).  I will be keeping track of posting dates as well as quantity and content.  I don't want you counting words though.  If you are doing the readings, both in your books and in the discussion groups, the words will flow naturally.  Don't stress over it, but don't let it slide either.

The above paragraph from "In general" to "slide either" is 256 words or about half of the weekly minimum completed in one paragraph. You will not get full credit for trying to squeeze all 500 words in just one post per week.  You should have a mix of original posts and replies, and I should see at least 2-3 different dates on your posts.

You should count on at least a half-hour to an hour each time you logon for reading and posting to the discussion page.   You need to both post your own thoughts and read those of others and comment on them.  You will need an undisturbed block of time to do this where you can read, think, and write.  You will not be able to do this from work while the boss isn't looking, for example.  You will need to commit to a certain part of the day on certain days of the week and make that commitment stick if you are going to be a successful online student.  That (and keeping up with the readings) will be your biggest challenge!

What should you post?  This is the part of the class that provides you the space for expressing your analysis and points of view about  philosophers and their ideas.  After the weekly reading you should be prepared to make some original comments on them.  Also, after reading what others have said you probably will want to comment on some of those as well.  You should do a little bit of both.  I strongly recommend that you keep a little notebook with you while you read so that you can jot down notes to help your memory.  Also, I will usually post some leading questions as a jumping off point on the lecture materials page.  However, you should not feel yourself constrained to answer only those, and you should feel free to post on something completely different.



Important: About Religion, Posting and Participation

Philosophy is a very profound subject with many diverse branches.  From epistemology and ethics, to theories of religion, politics, aesthetics, ethics and many others.  In introductory classes you often focus on several rather than just one.  One week we could be discussing topics such as morals, morality, the concepts of right and wrong, justice, etc. and the next we could be examining the writings of those who believed in the Gods of Greek mythology.  I realize that with some of the topics we discuss,  many of you focus on your own religious upbringing and personal beliefs.  Unlike some instructors, I do not forbid such discussion.  However,  I think that it is important for us to read, study and think about these philosophers as a product of their time, and how they influenced how we think today.  If you do nothing more than filter their thoughts through 21st century religious beliefs you can distort to a certain extent how you view them and why they thought the way they did. I would ask that you try to place yourself more in their times and look as objectively as possible (no matter what your personal beliefs are) at what these people wrote and thought.


I don’t want to forbid a discussion of religion where important.  However, Cerro Coso is a secular college and for many there is more to the study of philosophy than trying to bend it to a certain religious belief.  The Inquisition forced some philosophers such as Galileo to renounce their beliefs (which went against those taught by Aristotle and accepted by the church as doctrine) or burned some at the stake such as Bruno.  Let's not have our own religious or personal beliefs and reject out of hand what certain philosophers believed just because it goes against our personal beliefs. 
I encourage you to discuss that which most interests you from the readings.  At times, you may wish to express yourself through reference to your religious beliefs as a part of who you are.  But I will not accept for a participation grade the posts of any student who principally expresses themselves through reference to their religion or religious doctrine.  Cerro Coso offers several classes on the theory of religion; this is not one of them. 
There are many, many interesting comments to be made on the readings.  I am just asking for a little discretion, and that religion not become the main focus of the class.  I would ask that we keep our personal beliefs private except where appropriate.  Obviously if we are reading philosophers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas we would discuss religion.  If we discuss epistemology or cosmology, religious beliefs would be a part of the discussion.  However, you should remember that important philosophers such as Aristotle, Socrates and Plato lived hundreds of years before some religions were born or practiced.  You must keep that in mind when trying to understand their thought processes and their philosophies.
To repeat, I am not going to forbid the mention of religion in general or the religious doctrine in your discussion posts.  But you should be very careful to make sure that it is appropriate to the readings, the standards of a class that is not principally about religion and which is being taught at a secular school.  You should also be sure that you have sufficient non-religious material in your other posts in general to receive full participation credit.  I don't want to get into a word-count game with anyone.  Let's try and be adults and remember that not everyone in the class shares your same religious views.  Please don't make me go the route of just forbidding such discussion.  Thanks and I look forward to many interesting posts.

The FAQ page is a continuation of this syllabus and is required reading.  If you have not read it yet, you should read it now. I reserve the right to update this page, and the FAQ page at any time it becomes necessary. 



Student Learning Outcomes: Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to

A.    Use philosophical vocabulary and concepts in original essays.


B.    Compare and contrast philosophers from different cultures and historical periods on major philosophical themes.
C.   Analyze a philosophical work by stating its components and articulating the relationship of ideas within a work.
D.   Examine philosophical problems in depth from more than one point of view, synthesizing multiple works, using appropriate citation of sources.
E.   Present complex material.
F.   Articulate opinions carefully and consider a range of points of view.

If you have a disability that may require classroom or test accommodations, please contact Special Services - Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) by calling 760-384-6250. You will need to provide written documentation of your disability. If you think you have a disability but currently have no documentation, DSPS may be able to help you. All information will be kept confidential. This document is available in alternate format upon request.


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