Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy
P100 | 4566 | S. Harris
In this course we will carefully think our way through some of the
most important perennial problems in philosophy. Throughout we will
find ourselves wrestling with fundamental issues in metaphysics,
epistemology, ethics, and logic, the core areas of philosophical
inquiry. Pressing philosophical concerns in the appropriate way will
thus lead us to ask questions having the following general forms:
What is the world really like?
How should we live our lives?
What can we actually know about the world anyway? (And how?)
What should we believe? (And why?)
Introduction to Philosophy aims to be a historically sensitive but
problem-centered approach to the subject. The biggest questions are
familiar to nearly everyone: What is the meaning of life? What
matters most? Who (or what) am I? What should I do? Is there a god?
Why do people suffer? Is the world the way we experience it or is
everything an illusion? How can I be certain?
Philosophy as practiced through the ages is largely a refinement of
the art of asking such questions and being critical of the answers
that might be given. In this course, we'll discuss traditional and
contemporary debate about the existence and nature of god, about our
knowledge of the world, and about ourselves as rational and moral
If we are really lucky, we will manage to actually solve one or two of
the problems that have bothered philosophers for centuries. What is
more likely is that we will develop an understanding of what those
problems are by analyzing and critically evaluating different views
concerning them. My goal for Introduction to Philosophy is to give
each student a chance to learn philosophy by practicing philosophy.
Students should come away from the course able to understand and
appreciate central philosophical issues, along with the basic skills
needed to analyze and evaluate philosophical arguments.
For more information, access the course website at the url below