Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy
P100 | 10466 | McAninch
Persons and Their Place in the World
The main objective of this course is to provide an introduction to
Western philosophy by examining a collection of historical and
contemporary texts that revolve around a broad, central theme:
persons and their place in the world. The central question, then, is
this: What is the relationship between persons and the world of which
they are a part?
Of course no single course can encompass such a broad philosophical
theme, just as no single course can introduce the most important
philosophical works of the last 2500 years. Instead, we will use this
broad theme to focus on a subset of questions that have puzzled
philosophers both in the past and today:
• What is the nature of our knowledge of the external world?
• Does everything that appears to exist in the word really
exist in the world? Or are some things, such as color properties,
causal properties, or values, simply the projections of our own
• What are persons anyway? And does our best scientific
understanding of the world conflict with our image of ourselves as
beings with minds, free will, and moral agency?
By closely reading historic texts by Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, and
Hume as well as contemporary texts by Nagel, Churchland, Singer and
others, we will address a few of the dominant questions in the main
areas of philosophy—metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and philosophy
of mind. A major element of this course will be the close and
critical reading of challenging, puzzling, and often dense
philosophical texts. We—your instructors—will guide you through these
difficult readings, but your sincere cooperation and effort will be
required. These readings, though, are as fascinating as they are
difficult, so the payoff is great indeed.
You will be graded on the basis of attendance and participation,
weekly quizzes, 2 writing assignments, and a midterm and final exam.
Required texts are available in Reason and Responsibility, Ed. Joel
Feinberg and Russ Shafer-Landau. Additional texts will be made
available through OnCourse and e-reserves. If you have any questions
about this course, feel free to email the instructor at amcaninc