Course Information

Foundations of Philosophy

PL201-07V/08V | Fall, 2016

TTH (07V) 1:40pm-2:55pm / (08V) 4:30pm-5:45pm | Room: Hammerman Hall Room 102

Enrichment Hour: (07V) Tues 3:05-3:55pm; (08V) Thurs 3:30-4:20pm

Dr. Jeffrey C. Witt | jcwitt [at] loyola [dot] edu | ext. 2947

Philosophy Department 050M

Office Hours: Tues 4-4:30pm and Thurs 3:00-3:30pm (in class meeting space), Wed 11-12:00, 12:30-2:30pm, and by appointment (in office)

Course Description

Foundations of Philosophy is a general introduction to the basic problems of philosophy and the classical sources that first recognized and then formulated these problems. The objectives of the course are two-fold. The first is to introduce students to the early history of philosophy. Second, within this general historical context, the course will focus on the development of the three problem areas that have come to define the field of philosophy today: epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Students will be asked to absorb philosophy’s long preoccupation with these issues, recognize the perennial difficulties that arise, and actively reflect on the consequences of positions taken.

Course Learning Aims and Expected Outcomes

1) Aims: Exposure to and increased facility in comprehension of the foundational texts of philosophy. Outcomes: Be able to identify (chronologically) the major foundational philosophers and their distinctive positions in the core problem areas. Be able to compare and contrast the positions of philosophers studied.

2) Aims: Increase student's ability to recognize and appreciate the complexity of core philosophical problems. Develop a mind that can articulate that complexity to oneself and others. Outcomes: Be able to see a problem from diverse vantage points. Be able to articulate both the pros and cons of perennial philosophical issues discussed in class.

3) Aims: Help students to question the values they take for granted and to think through the nature of knowledge, existence, justice, happiness, and ultimately the life they want to live. Help students cultivate a taste for philosophical speculation, i.e. develop an appetite for "contemplation with friends" and a palate that can recognize the difference between this kind of enjoyment and alternatives. Outcomes: Be able to describe the consequences and impact of a given philosophical stance for one's own life and decisions: especially, the impact on what one values and how one conceives of the good life.

Course Readings

Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture (San Francisco: 2009)

A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia, ed. Patricia Curd (Indianapolis: 2011)

Plato, Five Dialogues, trans. G. M. A. Grube (Indianapolis: 2002)

Plato, Gorgias, trans. Robin Waterfield (Oxford: 2008)

Aristotle, Selections, transl. Terence Irwin and Gail Fine (Indianapolis: 1995)

Moodle Readings (Moodle)

Course Requirements

Participation (20%)

In-Class Participation (10%): Class involvement is a small part of your grade that typically makes a big difference. Class involvement means, first of all, coming to class. Missing three or more classes will result in an automatic zero for your participation grade. This includes Messina enrichment hours. Secondly, it means coming to class prepared. However, preparation needs to bear fruit in the classroom. In other words, you need to strive to be an asset to the class. At times we will have opportunities for discussion; someone who is involved in class will be a thoughtful and engaged participant in that discussion. At other times, lectures will solicit your input and/or questions; an engaged student will bring up helpful and appropriate questions and be able to make a positive contribution when class input is called upon. Finally, we will occasionally have low-stakes writing and worksheet assignments, which you will be expected to give your best effort and hand in. (Use of cell phones in class for texting or any other reason will result in an automatic 0 for this portion of your grade. Do yourself a favor and put your cell phones away and out sight for the duration of our class.)

Reading Response Participation (10%): For each class reading, I will be handing out a set of guided reading questions to help guide you through our sometimes very difficult reading. Included at the bottom of these reading questions will be one or two reflection questions. While you are expected to look over the guided reading questions for each reading as you prepare for class, you are NOT required to submit a written answer for every reflection question. Rather, I ask that you respond to 8 different prompts for readings in 8 different weeks throughout the semester. In order to count, responses must be turned in at the beginning of the class in which the text in question is discussed. I will accept only one response per week.

In addition to your reading responses, there will be two Messina events, a lecture event and trip to the Symphony, for which I will ask a similar reflection. These responses are due at the class that follows the event.

All responses should be at least 250 words but can be as long as you want. They should show evidence that you have read the text and made a serious attempt to reflect on the prompt.

Critical Evaluation (20%)

Evaluations are an opportunity to critically evaluate the pros and cons of an idea that has come up in our readings or discussions. Throughout the semester there will be four evaluation opportunities. Each evaluation should focus on a topic that emerged between the due date of the previous evaluation and the due date of the current evaluation.

The expectations for evaluations follow from the outcome they are attempting to achieve. Philosophical activity begins in wonder or puzzlement. Likewise, a philosophy paper typically begins with an intriguing question. But what distinguishes an interesting from a boring question? A true puzzle is found where conflicting answers for a problem can be supported. The goal of critical evaluations is for you to recognize a problem and to articulate it for yourself. A strong evaluation will [1] begin with a statement or thesis that quickly identifies a position or idea from the week's reading and summarizes the dilemma you will describe below. The evaluation will then [2] articulate accurately the reason or reasons in support of the proposed idea. [3] Finally, it will describe a difficulty that such a position (or its consequences) faces: perhaps the idea challenges or conflicts with another commonly held belief. Perhaps the idea seems to contradict a familiar experience or unexamined assumption, or perhaps the argument commits a fallacy of some sort. In your evaluations, please avoid using the first person pronoun ("I", "me", etc.). Articulate your evaluation in such a way as to convey to your reader that this is a universal puzzle that everyone should be able to recognize and is not simply a personal problem unique to your own mental state. (A few examples will be distributed before the first evaluation is due.)

Critical Evaluations should be 400 words. It should be extremely difficult to fit everything within this word limit. Responses will be graded out of 20. I will be looking for the three elements described above. A score of 18-20 indicates that the response exceeds expectations, a 16-17 meets expectations, and 15 or below does not meet expectations. Please write your name, date, and word count on the top of your response. Evaluations are due in class on the assigned due date. Late responses will not be accepted.

Exams (60%)

Mid-Term Exam 1 (17.5%): A short exam focused on the central problem of epistemology, basic logic, and common logical fallacies.

Mid-Term Exam 2 (20%): This exam will focus on the central problems of metaphysics. It will expect that you can articulate the basic metaphysical problems posed by the early presocratic thinkers and can generally explain how Plato and Aristotle responded to these problems.

Final Exam (22.5%): The cumulative final exam will include short fact based questions, quotation identification, and essay responses on core concepts and problems discussed during the course of the semester.

Final Grade Distribution

92% A, 90% A-, 88% B+, 83% B, 80 B-, 78% C+, 73% C, 70% C-, 68% D+, 60% D

Honor Code and Plagiarism

Students are expected to follow the university's honor code:

"The Honor Code states that all students of the Loyola Community have been equally entrusted by their peers to conduct themselves honestly on all academic assignments. The Students of this University understand that having collective and individual responsibility for the ethical welfare of their peers exemplifies a commitment to the community. Students who submit materials that are the products of their own minds demonstrate respect for themselves and the community in which they study. All outside resources or information should be clearly acknowledged. If there is any doubt or question regarding the use and documentation of outside sources for academic assignments, your instructor should be consulted. Any violations of the Honor Code will be handled by the Honor Council."

See the honor code for further information.

Issues of plagiarism and cheating will be dealt with in accordance with the philosophy department's "policy concerning intellectual honesty" (please see attached document).

Computer, Cell Phones and Email Policy

I ask you not to use your computers or cell phones in this class. They are almost always a distraction: if not to you, then to me and to others. (If there is a special reason that you need a computer please let me know, and we can most likely work something out.) Students using cell phones in any capacity will find their participation grade negatively affected. If you find this policy frustrating, then I encourage you to watch the Frontline documentary: Digital Nation

Email is useful for setting up appointments or informing me about emergencies, but about most other things, I prefer to meet with you face to face. This is what office hours are for. Do not be scared; I am nice! If my office hours conflict with your schedule, I will be glad to work with you to find a time that does fit.

Course Schedule

**This is a tentative schedule, subject to revision depending on our progress and extenuating circumstances**

I. Philosophy, Leisure, and the Visionary

Week 1

Tue Sep 06 - Introduction

Thu Sep 08 - Josef Pieper, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, pp. 19-52.

Week 2

Tue Sep 13 - Josef Pieper, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, pp. 53-74; Russell, In Praise of Idleness (Moodle); (Required Reading Response).

II. The Task of Knowing

Thu Sep 15 - Plato, Meno, pp. 58-92; Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Book I, cc. 1-6, pp. 37-52; Book II, c. 19, pp. 66-68.

Week 3

Tue Sep 20 - "Introduction to Logic - Categorical Propositions" (Moodle); "Introduction to Logic - Venn Diagrams" (Moodle); "Introduction to Logic - The Traditional Square of Opposition" (Moodle); "Categorical Propositions Question Sheet" (Moodle) (Question Sheet Due in Class).

Thu Sep 22 - "Informal Fallacies" (Moodle); "Informal Fallacies Worksheet" (Moodle) (Submit worksheet via Moodle)

Week 4

Tue Sep 27 - "Introduction to Logic - The Syllogism" (Moodle), "Venn Diagrams for Categorical Syllogisms" (Moodle); "Introduction to Logic - The Formal Fallacies" (Moodle).

Thu Sep 29 - Syllogism Worksheet (Moodle) (Syllogism Worksheet Due in Class.); and Review Day.

Week 5

Tue Oct 04 - Mid-Term Exam I.

III. The Birth of Philosophy: A theory of everything, from physics to metaphysics


Thu Oct 06 - Introduction, pp. 1-7; Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, pp. 13-22; Heraclitus, pp. 39-53.

Week 6

Tue Oct 11 - Parmenides, pp. 55-65; Zeno, pp. 66-72; Anaxagoras, pp. 101-108.

Thu Oct 13 - Skepticism and the Sophists, pp. 144-161 (Critical Evaluation 1 Due).

Plato and His Forms

Week 7

Tue Oct 18 - Plato, Phaedo, 93-130;

Thu Oct 20 - Plato, Phaedo, 131-154; Plato, Republic VI and VII, selections (Moodle).

Aristotle's Search for First Principles: from matter to God

Week 8

Tue Oct 25 - Aristotle, Physics, Book I, pp. 83-95 and Book II cc. 1-3, pp. 95-105.

Thu Oct 27 - Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, pp. 221-240; Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book XII, pp. 332-344; Copleston, "Metaphysics of Aristotle," pp. 287-319 (Moodle); (Critical Evaluation 2 Due).

Week 9

Tue Nov 01 - Review Day.

Thu Nov 03 - Mid-Term Exam II.

IV. Ethics of Pursuing Knowledge

Week 10

Tue Nov 08 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book I, cc. 1-10, pp. 347-363.

Thu Nov 10 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book I, c. 13, pp. 363-365 and Book II, cc. 1-7, pp. 366-376.

Week 11

Tue Nov 15 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book III, cc. 1-5, pp. 376-388.

Thu Nov 17 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book III c. 7, pp. 389-391; Irwin, "Homer" in Classical Thought, pp. 6-19 (Moodle); Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book VIII, cc. 1-3, 9, pp. 417-422 and Book IX, cc. 4, 7-9, 12, pp. 423-432.

Week 12

Tue Nov 22 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book X, cc. 4-5, pp. 433-438; Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book X, cc. 6-9, pp. 438-439 (Critical Evaluation 3 Due).

Thu Nov 24 - [thanksgiving break]

Week 13

Tue Nov 29 - Plato, Gorgias, 461b-480e, pp. 27-61.

Thu Dec 01 - Plato, Gorgias, 481b-492c, pp. 62-79.

Tue Dec 06 - Plato, Gorgias 492d-506c, pp. 79-103.

Thu Dec 08 - Plato, Gorgias, 506c-527e, pp. 103-135; Review Day (Critical Evaluation 4 Due).

Final Exam

1:40pm Class/07V: Wednesday, December 21 1:00pm

4:30pm Class/08V: Tuesday, December 20 1:00pm