Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy
P100 | 20428 | O"Connor
In this course, we will tackle several of the 'biggies':
What kind of a thing am I?
(That rug rat that went by my name thirty years ago has just about
nothing physically in common with me, so how can that have been me?
What if a neuroscientist managed to erase all traces of my memories
and basic personality traits and replaced them with new ones,
preserving the life of my body throughout - would that still be me?
Does it make sense to say that I could survive death?)
Does God exist?
(Is there any way of settling this matter just through rational
reflection? If He does exist, could we figure out anything of what
He must be like quite apart from religious revelation?)
What is the physical world like, in very fundamental and general
(We all recognize that the world isn't exactly as it appears to us.
Could we be systematically mistaken about its nature? How could we
tell, one way or the other? If a very strange friend—no doubt a
philosopher—asked me why I assume that my lifelong experiences
involve contact with a big world 'outside' myself, instead of merely
being one long, complicated dream, what could I say in response?
[Beyond, "get a life."])
No doubt you often lie awake at night sweating over these questions.
But you may not know that philosophers past and present approach
these questions not through random musings, but with rigorous,
systematic methods of reflection. And so shall we. In taking this
course, you'll make a start on learning how to think well and to
express those scintillating thoughts in clear, persuasive writing.
(You didn't really think you'd achieve those goals by taking a
single course, did you?)