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The primary concern of philosophy is the study of ideas central to the ways we think and live. The value, however, of many of our key concepts is often hidden from us. We take the ways we make sense of ourselves and the world for granted. We forget why truth matters or acting decently is a minimal requirement for treating others justly.
Philosophy makes the invisible visible.
It cultivates techniques that will help you to become clearer about what matters to you most and develops skills that are essential in the pursuit of every discipline.
As Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary under Clinton, said many times: “I took one course in philosophy in college and it made me a better economist.”
The course asks and aims to answer central questions in philosophy:
“Can machines think?”
"What is consciousness?”
“Do persons have free will?”
“How do you know you are not living in a matrix?”
“What is so bad about inequality?”
“What is justice?”
“If you had the option, would you be immortal?”
"Does life have meaning?
The course is more about thinking than it is about coverage or the memorization of a bunch of facts.
The main focus is on the questions.
Topics include arguments for and against the existence of God, the problem of evil, minds, brains and programs, personal identity ("who am I?"), freedom and determinism, moral objectivity v. moral relativism, justice and mercy, and what makes life worth living . . . to name a few.
The course is not intended to be comprehensive or exhaustive. The classic philosophical materials are selected to provide a basis for understanding central debates within the field.
The course is divided into four sections and each section focuses on a key area within Western philosophy, in the areas of (somewhat fancily put) epistemology, general metaphysics and ontology as well as philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, political philosophy and ethics:
Preamble: What is Philosophy?
PART I: REASON & FAITH
PART II: MIND & BODY
PART III: KNOWLEDGE & REALITY
PART IV: ETHICS, JUSTICE & THE GOOD LIFE
(See the Syllabus)
In its aim and format the course is more an invitation to do philosophy than an introduction.
Introductions seek to map out a territory or lay the groundwork for more detailed study. There will be some of that in the Summer of 2018, but insofar as invitations beckon and introductions point, the course beckons students to the study of philosophy rather than points the way.
The Syllabus for The Introduction to Philosophy course has been listed among the top ten most popular philosophy syllabi in the world for a number of years now:
Time: 12:15 to 3 Tuesdays & Thursdays
Place: One Story Street, ROOM 304
The syllabus page shows a table-oriented view of the course schedule, and the basics of course grading. You can add any other comments, notes, or thoughts you have about the course structure, course policies or anything else.
To add some comments, click the "Edit" link at the top.