Phl 295, philosophy and meaning in harry potter fall, 2009 Sandra Emmachild, Hogwarts at sccc professor of Philosophy

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Sandra Emmachild, Hogwarts at SCCC Professor of Philosophy


Phone: 451-4093, 451-4860 Office Hours (Southampton 120):

Email: Monday 10:00-11:00 Email Office Hour: Tuesday, 8-9 p.m. Tuesday 9:30-10:30

Wednesday 3:15-4:15 Thursday 9:30-10:30 Other Hours by Appointment
TEXTS: 1) Harry Potter and Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts, Baggett & Klein

2) Any two of the following: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s)Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K.Rowling

3) Additional Required Readings On Line

This course intends to help the student to 1)identify and comprehend three traditional issues in philosophy: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Ethics, as exemplified in the Series; 2)analyze two theories of myth demonstrated in the Series: The Characteristics of the Hero, and Symbolic Representations of Good vs. Evil; 3)develop an understanding of philosophical language; 4)develop the basic skills of critical analysis.


1) Examinations: There will be two in-class exams in the course (an O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exam), consisting of both short-answer and essay questions; and one take-home exam, given out as four separate Homework Assignments. The exams will be based on both the readings and the class discussions, and in all cases, students will have some choice in answering questions. Exams are not comprehensive; that is, each exam will contain only the topics assigned for that exam and will not refer back to material covered on prior exams. Absolutely no makeups are permitted. (See “Extra Credit.”)

2) Class Work: All students are expected to keep up with the readings on a daily basis and to contribute to the class discussion. Students should expect to be called upon and graded regarding both the assigned readings and the class discussions. Students who contribute to the class discussion in a substantial, scholarly and original manner will earn points for their Houses. For every 5 points earned by a House, all members of that House will receive one point added to their final grade. (Specific requirements for earning such points will be discussed in class; determination of such points is at the sole discretion of the Professor.) Students who are unprepared for class will have their final grade lowered; and severe unpreparedness may result in failure or dismissal from the course. Preparedness means: 1)the student brings the book(s) to class daily; 2)the student volunteers to answer questions about the content of the reading material; 3)the student can answer questions without referring to the text or to notes. Further, films, videos or guest speakers may take place during class time; and students are responsible for attending such events. Finally, students are responsible for

obtaining information given in class, even if absent.

3) Attendance: Students are permitted two excused absences. Those who exceed this limit may be subject to a decrease in their grade for the course, and in the case of excessive absences, students may be removed from the course. Leaving class early or arriving late, without prior permission, may be regarded as an absence. Students who fail to sign in on attendance forms are presumed absent and may not sign in at a later time.

4) Extra Credit: At least four optional extra credit assignments will be given during the semester. Each will be worth a maximum of 25 points and may be used either as extra credit or to substitute for a missed exam. A student who misses an exam and has not done extra credit will not be given any additional extra credit. Since extra credit is used in many ways, it is each student’s responsibility to discuss with me how her/his extra credit will be used. In no case is extra credit simply “added on” to a grade. It is used primarily to substitute for a missed exam or to “boost” a grade at the end of the semester. In general, students will receive between 1/4 and 3/4 of the points received on an extra credit–rarely will a student receive the full points. Note that regardless of how many extra credit assignments are given, no student may do more than four assignments during the semester. Finally any outside work, including extra credit, which is not handed in during the class in which it is due, must be dated and signed by either a secretary or faculty member to show that it was handed in on the due date, otherwise the work will be late and therefore unacceptable.

Each exam will count as 30% of the final grade; class participation and preparation will count as 10% of the final grade, although a grade may be jeopardized more severely in some cases (see “Class Work”). In addition, extra credit, absences, lateness and class behavior may affect the final grade, particularly in the case of “borderline”grades. The grading system on all work will be as follows: O (Outstanding), E (Exceeds Expectations), A (Acceptable), P (Poor), D (Dreadful),

T (Troll). (Note: The grades will be converted to the Muggle system when necessary.) While being in class regularly and on time will not enhance a grade (these are minimum requirements for remaining in good standing in the course), failure to do so will result in a lower grade. Food and drinks may not be consumed during class time; nor may work for other classes or work due for this class be done during class time. In addition, students may not copy notes from a missed class during class time. And, all cell phones, i-pods, laptops and other muggle electronics must be turned off during class. The use of these and any other disruptive or inconsiderate behaviors may affect the grade and/or result in dismissal from the course. Als o, no student may receive a “W” after Tuesday, November 24. NOTE: THE COLLEGE MIDTERM DATE IS MONDAY, OCTOBER 21. Finally, students are strongly encouraged to use a dictionary and to visit the Writing Center before handing in any out-of-class assignments. Some spelling and grammar errors (to be discussed in class) will affect the grade.
DUE DATES: (Students are responsible for keeping up with any changes announced in class. Students should make a contact in the class to inquire about missed information.)

NO SCHOOL: Monday, Sept. 7; Tuesday, Sept. 15; Monday, Sept. 28; Wednesday, Nov. 11; Nov. 25-28.

O.W.L.: Thursday, October 15

N.E.W.T. : Tuesday, November 24

HOMEWORK EXAMS: HW 1 - Thursday, September 10

HW 2 - Tuesday, October 6

HW 3- Thursday, November 19

HW 4 - Thursday, December 17

END OF TERM FEAST: Thursday, December 17

Weeks 1 - 2 Sorting Ceremony and Course Introduction

Terms and definitions given in class.
Weeks 3 - 7 Topic I - Magical v. Muggle Epistemology

Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave,” ONLINE

James, “Pragmatism,” Palmer, ONLINE

Nietzsche, “Friedrich Nietzsche,” Palmer, ONLINE

Descartes, “Rene` Descartes,” Palmer, ONLINE

Text: Chapters 4, 7

Weeks 8 - 10 Topic II - Metaphysics: The Self and Free Will

Text, Chapters 13, 15, 16

Hospers, “What Means This Freedom?” ONLINE

Sartre, “The Case for Freedom of Choice” ONLINE

Plato, “The Phaedo” ONLINE

References to Plato, James, Nietzsche, Descartes
Weeks 11 - 14 Topic III: Morality

Criticisms of Rowlings’ Portrayal of Morality, ONLINE

Text: Chapters 3, 5, 12

References to Plato, James, Nietzsche, Descartes

Class Handouts To Be Announced
Weeks 14 - 16 Topic IV: Philosophy of Myth

“The Hero,” as portrayed in the Series, “Characteristics of the Hero” ONLINE

Symbols of Good and Evil in the Series, “Traditional Mythological Opposites” ONLINE

Class Handouts To Be Announced

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