In an earlier post, I requested help for putting together a syllabus for a little Introduction to Philosophy course I’ll be teaching in March/April. I was graced with many excellent comments & suggestions—thanks! So here I’ll post the course description & syllabus as they now stand (edited for brevity & relevance). I hope to use this blog as a forum for discussion once the class starts.
Advice is still requested!
INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
This discussion, reading, & lecture class will look at the major concerns of philosophy in an engaging, entertaining, & enlightening way. We will ask What is philosophy? and examine the five foundational fields of philosophy: ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, & political philosophy. In other words, we’ll talk about how to determine right & wrong, sources and methods of knowledge, the nature of reality, the qualities of beauty, what is art, how to create the ideal state, what is the best form of government, & other topics of perennial interest. Through lively conversations, varied readings, & examinations of relevant selections from popular culture, we’ll attempt to bring the ideas of the ancient & timeless philosophers to life & to our own experience. We’ll be reading selections from Introducing Philosophy by Dave Robinson & Judy Groves & Republic by Plato. We’ll view selections from The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Life is Beautiful & other films, & listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra (the theme music for 2001), Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, “Eleanor Rigby,” “Bridge over Troubled Waters,” “American Dream” by Switchfoot, & other songs/pieces of music that illustrate the application of these big questions. We will spend some class periods working in hypothetical situations & applying the principles we’ve learned to them. These might include role-playing as a doctor, pastor, president, senator, teacher, etc. in ethical situations; creating an imaginary ideal society/government; enacting scenarios of absolute power; and so on. Parents should be aware that the class will regularly interact with big questions & controversial issues. We will plan to close each class with a Biblical evaluation of that day’s discussions, & apply at least one Scripture passage to each topic. The ideal class size would be no more than 15 students—but is there any such thing as an ideal class, & is it achievable in this sublunary sphere?
Week one: What is philosophy?
Definitions of the five foundational fields of philosophy: ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, & political philosophy.
Listen to “Eleanor Rigby,” talk about the meaning of life
Role-play scenarios of absolute power.
Watch selections from "The Man Who Could Work Miracles”
Listen to “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes & Loreena McKennit, talk about what you would do in this situation.
Week two: How to determine right & wrong
Read ___ from Introducing Philosophy
Read Gyges’ ring from Republic by Plato
Selections from Lord of the Rings
Readings from Neitzsche
Listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra
Role-playing as a doctor, pastor, president, etc. in ethical situations
Read Ten Commandments from Exodus 20; talk about the need for an absolute.
Week three: Sources and methods of knowledge
Read ___ from Introducing Philosophy
Define a priori & a postiori styles of reasoning; presuppositions, evidentialism & rationalism, etc.
as you can see, this week is still a little skimpy…
Week four: The nature of reality
Read Allegory of the Cave from Republic by Plato
Selections from The Matrix
Week five: The qualities of beauty, What is art?
Read __ from Introducing Philosophy
Selections from Life is Beautiful
Readings from My name is Asher Lev
Listen to “Bridge over Troubled Waters”
Week six: How to create the ideal state; What is the best form of government?
Listen to selections from Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony
Listen to “American Dream” by Switchfoot
Role-play creating an imaginary ideal society/government