Foundations of Philosophy
PL201, -24, -27 | Fall, 2023
MWF (24) 1:00pm-1:50pm / (27) 2:00pm-2:50pm
Room: Maryland Hall, 440
Dr. Jeffrey C. Witt | jcwitt [at] loyola [dot] edu | ext. 2947
Philosophy Department 050M
Office Hours: By appointment Monday 3-5pm, Tues 1-3pm, Wed 3-5pm
A one semester introduction to philosophy. Three focal points are covered: the emergence and development of rational theories on the nature of reality (metaphysics); questions concerning the grounds for distinguishing between knowledge and opinion (epistemology); and the nature and status of values (ethical, aesthetic, religious, etc.). Special attention is paid to the origins of philosophy and its historical beginnings in the ancient world.
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 (epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics). Be able to compare and contrast the positions of philosophers studied.
2) Aims: Increase students' 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.
A Presocratics Reader: Selected Fragments and Testimonia (PR), ed. Patricia Curd (Indianapolis: 2011)
Plato, Five Dialogues (FD), trans. G. M. A. Grube (Indianapolis: 2002)
Aristotle, Selections (S), trans. Terence Irwin and Gail Fine (Indianapolis: 1995)
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (TTC), trans. Gia-fu Feng and Jane English
Moodle Readings (Moodle)
In-Class Participation (2.5%): 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 in-class participation grade. Missing more than 6 classes will be grounds for failing the course. 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. (Using cell phones or laptops in class, unless as an approved DSS accommodation or otherwise directed by the instructor, will result in an automatic 0 for this portion of your grade. See "Computers and Cell Phones" policy below. Do yourself a favor and put your laptops and cell phones away and out sight for the duration of our class.)
Reading Quizzes/Responses (5%): Approximately once a week we will have reading quizzes and/or responses. These are low-stakes quizzes designed to motivate you too keep up with the reading and stay engaged with the course. There will be 8-12 of these quizzes throughout the semester. Because I know that everyone has busy weeks, I will drop your lowest two quizzes.
Participation Worksheets (7.5%): At various times (especially during our logic unit) you will be asked to turn in worksheets as homework before the assigned class.
Argument Analyses and Argument Evaluations (20%)
Three times throughout the semester you will be asked to write a short "argument analysis" or "argument evaluation" (approximately 400-500 words depending on the assignment). Specific assignment instructions will be distributed in advance of each due date.
Responses will be graded out of 20. A score of 18-20 indicates that the response exceeds expectations, a 16-17 meets expectations, and 15 or below does not meet expectations. Analyses are due via Moodle on the assigned due date. Late responses will not be accepted.
Mid-Term Exam 1 (20%): This exam will focus on the central problems 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 pre-socratic thinkers and can generally explain how Plato and Aristotle responded to these problems.
Final Exam (25%): 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
93% A, 90% A-, 88% B+, 83% B, 80 B-, 78% C+, 73% C, 70% C-, 68% D+, 60% D
Computer, Cell Phones, and Email Policy
I ask you not to use your computers or cell phones in this class, unless I invite you to use computers for a special task. They are almost always a distraction. (If there is a special reason that you need a computer, please contact DSS so they can approve the exception). If you find this policy frustrating, then I encourage you to watch the Frontline documentary: Digital Nation https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/documentary/digitalnation .
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.
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."
Statement on Generative-AI: This course focuses on skill building in the areas of close reading, argument analysis, and argument construction. As such (and as stated in the above honor code) it is expected that in this course your compositions are self-generated. While there are many legitimate reasons to use and value generative-AI tools, the goal of this class is to cultivate the very analytical skills that are needed to use AI tools well. Therefore outsourcing our class exercises, just as outsourcing drills in athletics, defeats the purpose. Thus, in this class, the above Honor Code includes the expectation that your submitted responses and compositions are always self-generated.
See the honor code for further information. https://www.loyola.edu/academics/honor-code.
**This is a tentative schedule, subject to revision depending on our progress and extenuating circumstances**
Introduction: Philosophy and Leisure
Wed Sept 06 - Introduction.
Fri Sep 08 - Russell, In Praise of Idleness (Moodle).
I. Epistemology and Logic
Mon Sep 11 - Plato, Meno (FD), pp. 58-92.
Wed Sep 13 - Aristotle, Posterior Analytics (S), Book I, cc. 1-6, pp. 37-52; Book II, c. 19, pp. 66-68.
Fri Sep 15 - "Introduction to Logic - Categorical Propositions" (Moodle); "Introduction to Logic - Venn Diagrams" (Moodle).
Mon Sept 18 - "Introduction to Logic - The Syllogism" (Moodle); "Venn Diagrams for Categorical Syllogisms" (Moodle).
Wed Sept 20 - "Introduction to Logic - The Formal Fallacies" (Moodle).
Fri Sept 22 - Hardy, et al., "Informal Fallacies" (Moodle),
Mon Sept 25 - Hurly, "Extended Arguments" (Moodle); Descartes, Meditations, Meditation 1 (Moodle).
Wed Sept 27 - Descartes, Meditations, Meditations 2-3 (Moodle).
Fri Sept 29 - David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, VII (On the Idea of a Necessary Connection), parts 1-2 (Moodle).
Mon Oct 2 - Review Session.
Wed Oct 4 - Mid-Term Exam I.
Fri Oct 6 - Introduction, Pre-Socratics Reader (PR), pp. 1-7; Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes (PR), pp. 13-22.
Mon Oct 9 - Heraclitus (PR), pp. 39-53.
Wed Oct 11 - Parmenides (PR), pp. 55-65; Zeno, pp. 66-72.
Fri Oct 13 - Anaxagoras (PR), pp. 101-108; Atomists (PR), pp. 109-125.
Mon Oct 16 - Skepticism and the Sophists (PR), pp. 144-161.
Wed Oct 18 - Plato, Phaedo (FD), 93-107.
Fri Oct 20 - Fall Break
Mon Oct 23 - Plato, Phaedo (FD), 107-130.
Wed Oct 25 - Plato, Phaedo (FD), 131-154 (Due: Analysis 1)
Fri Oct 27 - Aristotle, Physics (S), Book I, pp. 83-95 and Book II cc. 1-3, pp. 95-105.
Mon Oct 30 - Aristotle, Metaphysics (S), Book I, pp. 221-240;
Wed Nov 1 - Aristotle, Metaphysics (S), Book XII, pp. 332-344; Copleston, "Metaphysics of Aristotle," pp. 287-319 (Recommended; Moodle); Aquinas, "The Five Ways" (Moodle); Copleston and Russell, "A Debate on the Argument from Contingency", pp. 5-11 (Moodle).
Fri Nov 3 - "Personal Identity", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Moodle).
Mon Nov 6 - Review Session.
Wed Nov 8 - Mid-Term Exam II.
Interlude: PL201 Common Text, the "Tao te ching" by Lao Tsu
Fri Nov 10 - Moeller, "How to read the Daodejing", pp. 1-20 (Moodle); Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (TTC), chapters 4, 5, 6, 8, 11, 15, 28, 39, 40, 41, 42, 52, 61, 66, 78
Mon Nov 13 - Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (TTC), chapters 3, 10, 12, 23, 32, 33, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 53, 57, 63, 65, 81. (Due: Evaluation 1)
Wed Nov 15 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book I, cc. 1-10, pp. 347-363.
Fri Nov 17 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book I, c. 13, pp. 363-365 and Book II, cc. 1-7, pp. 366-376.
Mon Nov 20 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book III, cc. 1-5, pp. 376-388.
Wed Nov 22 - No Class - Thanksgiving Break
Fri Nov 24 - No Class - Thanksgiving Break
Mon Nov 27 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book VI, pp. 398-410.
Wed Nov 29 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book III c. 7, pp. 389-391; Irwin, "Homer" in Classical Thought, pp. 6-19 (Moodle).
Fri Dec 01 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book VIII, cc. 1-3, 9, pp. 417-422 and Book IX, cc. 4, 7-9, 12, pp. 423-432.
Mon Dec 04 - Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book X, cc. 4-5, pp. 433-438. Aristotle, N. Ethics (S), Book X, cc. 6-9, pp. 438-439.
Wed Dec 06 - Wellman, "Famine Relief: The Duties We have to Others" (Moodle) and Cohen, "Famine Relief and Human Virtue" (Moodle).
Fri Dec 8 - Etzioni, "Limits of Privacy" (Moodle) and Friedman, "The Case for Privacy" (Moodle). (Due: Evaluation 2)
Mon Dec 11 - Review Session.
PL201-24 (11:00am Class): Saturday, December 16, 1:00pm.
PL201-27 (2:00pm Class): Friday, December 15, 9:00am.