Philosophy 251: Introduction to Philosophy Dr. Stephen H. Daniel



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Philosophy 251: Introduction to Philosophy Dr. Stephen H. Daniel

  • Get a syllabus before or after class
  • Get a textbook
  • Locate your graduate instructor
    • Steve Campbell: sections 505, 506, 510
    • Kim Díaz: sections 503, 504, 509
    • Jeremy Evans: sections 501, 502, 511
    • Adam Shriver: sections 507, 508, 512

To Do Well in the Course

  • Read the textbook before class
  • Make an outline that combines notes from your reading of the text, website summary, and class notes
  • Website: http://philosophy.tamu.edu/ ~sdaniel/251sy05a.html
  • Visit the instructor and TAs during office hours or call or email us

The PHIL 251 Website: http://philosophy.tamu.edu/~sdaniel/ 251sy05a.html

  • This site contains:
  • the syllabus
  • outlines for each class
  • past test questions
  • links to the textbook companion site and instructor email contacts

Course Requirements

  • Read the assigned material
  • Come to lectures and Friday discussions
  • Take the Friday quizzes
  • Take the two true/false, multiple- choice tests and the final exam
  • Extra points: short essay questions

Misconceptions of Philosophy

  • Philosophy deals only with abstractions; it is not concrete or practical
  • Philosophy is just a game arguing about words
  • Philosophy is only an expression of personal opinions

Philosophy: the Pursuit of Wisdom

  • Born of wonder:
    • Why are we here? Who are we really? Does God exist? Why is there evil? Why should we care about others?
  • Aim: to clarify ideas and evaluate the reasons given to justify beliefs:
    • What do you mean? How do you know?
  • Purpose: to achieve autonomy, freedom to decide what to believe

The Philosophic Drive for Autonomy: Plato’s Myth of the Cave

  • The activity of philosophy is difficult because it requires that we question our most basic beliefs in seeking to understand why things are the way they are

How Philosophy Differs From Science, Law, and Religion

  • Philosophy challenges believers to explain and defend claims of religious truth
  • Philosophy questions the assumptions and procedures of science
  • Philosophy does not merely accept social beliefs or laws; it asks how they are justified

Areas of Philosophy

  • Epistemology (the study of knowledge):
    • How is knowledge different from belief or opinion? Is there only one truth, or can different views be equally true?
  • Ontology/Metaphysics (the study of the nature of reality):
    • What is the difference between appearance and reality? Is there a God? To what extent are human beings really free?

Areas of Philosophy

  • Axiology (the study of values):
    • Ethics: Is there a real difference between moral right and wrong?
    • Social & Political Philosophy: Why do we have social and political obligations?
    • Aesthetics: What is art? What is beauty?

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