Course Information

Foundations of Philosophy

PL201, -21, -22 | Fall, 2020

MWF (21) 12:00pm-12:50pm / (22) 1:00pm-1:50pm

Room: Zoom

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

Philosophy Department 050M

Office Hours: By Appointment Tuesday and Thursday 1-4pm

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 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.

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 (22.5%)

A critical part of this course is learning how to read and absorb difficult philosophical material. Learning this skill that you learn to read in a participatory and active way. First and foremost, you cannot acquire this skill without actually reading. But secondly, you need to read in a different way than you might read a novel. You need to read actively. This means annotating your text with pencil as you go, and then responding to what you've read, so that you can internalize it, rather than allowing it to pass through you. Our participation grade is designed to push you towards this kind of reading. With nearly every reading assignment (preceding our class discussion) there is an opportunity to respond, either through a reading quiz, a class discussion forum, or worksheet. These assignments are intended to be completed BEFORE our class meeting on the assigned day.

Reading Quizzes (10%): there will be 10 quiz opportunities through the semester. I know that you will sometimes have busy weeks or unexpected life events will arise, thus you do not need to do all 10 quizzes. You are expected to complete 8 quizzes throughout the course of the semester. If you do more than 8, I will count your highest 8 and drop your lowest 2. Quizzes will only be open until 12pm the day of the assigned class discussion. After that, the quiz will close.

Class Discussions (10%): There will be approximately 18 available class forum discussions. Again, because I know you will have busy weeks, you do not need to participate in each discussion. But through the course of the semester, You need to participate in 8 discussions. (But as the goal of this assignment is to help digest and actively respond to our reading, you are encouraged to participate in any and all discussion forums).

What does a full credit discussion forum participation look like? To get credit you need to participate at least twice in any given discussion, either by introducing a new topic/thread posing a question for the class or responding to a peer's original post or another response. To encourage interaction, discussion board's will be limited to 3 topic threads; after 3 threads have been initiated, you can then only respond to a thread respond to another person's response. A general guideline for a good question or response is that it should be "substantive" "interesting" and "relevant". Make sure to clearly explain the substance of the issue ("substantive"), show us its significance ("interesting"), and show us how it connects to the reading or previous discussion ("relevant"). Again, discussion board will close at 12pm the day of the assigned class discussion. So please do not wait until the last minute. To have a vibrant discussion, we will need topics and threads to be initiated before the discussion board deadline.

Other Participation Activities (2.5%): Beyond quizzes and discussion boards, we will have a few worksheets that I will ask you to turn in. These will count toward your participation grade.

Argument Analyses (15%)

Twice during the semester you will be asked to write an argument analysis based on our class reading. This assignment will ask you to digest a difficult reading, identify the central claim of the passage, and trace the key steps of the argument leading to its conclusion.

Argument analyses should not exceed 400 words. It should be extremely difficult to fit everything within this word limit. 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 in class on the assigned due date. Late responses will not be accepted.

Exams (62.5%)

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 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

93% 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.

Email Policy

Remember that while you have five teachers, I have more than 70 students. Thus, while I'm eager to connect with you, I can do this best by enforcing a few procedure.

For questions about the course, both content and procedure questions, please use our moodle help discussion board. Using this system will help ensure that I see and respond to your email. It will additionally ensure that others who have similar questions can also receive an answer. So, if you send me a direct email about course content and procedure, I will politely ask you to ask it via our moodle "help" discussion board and I will be eager and glad to respond.

For other issues, I will be glad to discuss these with you. But I would ask that you try to use our booking service and reserve a time slot to discuss it with me. We can generally always communicate better when we speak in person and this is an opportunity for me to get to know you better. This also helps me manage my time and provide you with the best response I can. So again, if you send me a direct email, I'll will be glad to discuss it with you, but I will often direct you to the booking system so that we can schedule a chance to talk about the issue.

Zoom Participation and Zoom Recording Policy

The expectation is that video is on, unless there is a reason for it not to be on, such as poor internet connectivity or student concerns about privacy in a shared living or work environment. If there are valid reasons why someone may not be able to participate via video and sound during our Zoom discussion period, please schedule any appointment with me to discuss alternative ways of ensuring attendance and participation.

Class sessions conducted via Zoom may be visually and audio-recorded for later reference by students and approved faculty and staff associated with the class (e.g., Messina instructors and administrator). Students who participate with their video-feeds activated or use a personal image on their Zoom profile acknowledge and agree that their videos and/or profile images will be recorded. If you do not wish to have your video and/or profile image recorded, ensure that your camera is turned off and do not use a personal image on your Zoom profile. Likewise, any students who un-mute their audio during class and participate orally in class agree to have their voices recorded. If you do not wish to have your voice recorded in a class recording, ensure that you have muted your Zoom audio prior to the beginning of class.

Course Schedule

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

I. Philosophy and Leisure

Week 1

Mon Aug 31 - Introduction.

Wed Sep 02 - Josef Pieper, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, pp. 19-52.

Fri Sep 04 - Josef Pieper, Leisure as the Basis of Culture, pp. 53-74.

Week 2

Mon Sep 07 - No Class - Labor Day

Wed Sep 09 - Russell, In Praise of Idleness (Moodle).

II. The Task of Knowing

Fri Sept 11 - Plato, Meno, pp. 58-92.

Week 3

Mon Sept 14 - Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Book I, cc. 1-6, pp. 37-52; Book II, c. 19, pp. 66-68.

Wed Sept 16 - "Introduction to Logic - Categorical Propositions" (Moodle); "Introduction to Logic - Venn Diagrams" (Moodle); (Logic Worksheet Due by 5pm).

Fri Sept 18 - "Introduction to Logic - The Syllogism" (Moodle), "Venn Diagrams for Categorical Syllogisms" (Moodle);

Week 4

Mon Sept 21 - "Introduction to Logic - The Formal Fallacies" (Moodle).

Wed Sept 23 - "Informal Fallacies" (Moodle).

Fri Sept 25 - "What is Justification (section 3)" and "The Structure of Knowledge and Justification (section 4)" in "Epistemology", Sections 3 , in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Moodle) (Theme: Epistemology Today)

Week 5

Mon Sept 28 - Review Session.

Wed Sept 30 - Mid-Term Exam I.

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


Fri Oct 2 - Introduction, pp. 1-7; Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, pp. 13-22;

Week 6

Mon Oct 05 - Heraclitus, pp. 39-53

Wed Oct 07 - Parmenides, pp. 55-65; Zeno, pp. 66-72

Fri Oct 09 - Anaxagoras, pp. 101-108.

Week 7

Mon Oct 12 - Skepticism and the Sophists, pp. 144-161.

Plato and His Forms

Wed Oct 14 - Plato, Phaedo, 93-107.

Fri Oct 16 - Mid Semester Holiday.

Week 8

Mon Oct 19 - Plato, Phaedo, 107-130.

Wed Oct 21 - Plato, Phaedo, 131-154 (Analysis 1 Due).

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

Fri Oct 23 - Aristotle, Physics, Book I, pp. 83-95 and Book II cc. 1-3, pp. 95-105.

Week 9

Mon Oct 26 - Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, pp. 221-240; Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book XII, pp. 332-344; Copleston, "Metaphysics of Aristotle," pp. 287-319 (Moodle). Review Day.

Wed Oct 28 - "Personal Identity", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Moodle) (Theme: Metaphysics Today)

Fri Oct 30 - Review

Week 10

Mon Nov 02 - Mid-Term Exam II.

IV. Ethics of Pursuing Knowledge

Wed Nov 04 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book I, cc. 1-10, pp. 347-363.

Fri Nov 06 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book I, c. 13, pp. 363-365 and Book II, cc. 1-7, pp. 366-376.

Week 11

Mon Nov 9 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book III, cc. 1-5, pp. 376-388.

Wed Nov 11 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book III c. 7, pp. 389-391; Irwin, "Homer" in Classical Thought, pp. 6-19 (Moodle).

Fri Nov 13 - 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

Mon Nov 16 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book X, cc. 4-5, pp. 433-438.

Wed Nov 18 - Aristotle, N. Ethics, Book X, cc. 6-9, pp. 438-439.

Fri Nov 20 - Plato, Gorgias, 461b-472c, pp. 27-45.

Week 13

Mon Nov 23 - Plato, Gorgias, 472d-481b, 46-62. (Analysis 2 Due)

Wed Nov 27 - [Thanksgiving Break]

Fri Nov 29 - [Thanksgiving Break]

Week 14

Mon Nov 30 - Plato, Gorgias, 481b-491d, pp. 62-78.

Wed Dec 02 - Plato, Gorgias 491d-505b, pp. 78-102.

Fri Dec 04 - Plato, Gorgias, 505c-527e, pp. 102-135.

Week 15

Mon Dec 07 - "Letter from Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King Jr. (Theme: Socrates Today) (Moodle)

Wed Dec 09 - Exam Review.

Final Exam

12pm Class (PL201-21) Friday, December 18, 9:00am

1pm Class (PL201-22) Wednesday, December 16, 9:00am