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COURSE NUMBER: PHIL 230
COURSE TITLE: Introduction to Philosophy
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Henry Schuurman
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3(hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to philosophy based on a reading of representative texts from the philosophical tradition. The issues connecting the texts to be read center on the nature of human being and experience.

REQUIRED TEXTS:
  • Plato, Five Dialogues
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Portable Nietzsche 
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor
  • Xeroxed Selections
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Socratic Exercises33%
Tests33%
Final Exam34%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES: The philosophical problems and thinkers examined in this course will be discussed against the background of the following assumptions concerning the nature of philosophy: first, that philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom; second, that the pursuit of wisdom involves, among other things, systematic, critical reflection on values; third, that systematic, critical reflection on values requires, among other things, reflection on the underlying unity and purpose of all things; fourth, that such reflection requires developing a self-conscious and critical awareness of one’s deepest values and ultimate commitments.
 
The course is organized around several Platonic dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, and the Phaedo.   There are a number of key concepts and issues related to these concepts which the course will attempt to clarify and evaluate: philosophy, value, love, rationality, self, God, cosmos, and creation.  In our study of these concepts and related issues, we will attempt to develop an understanding which is both critical and Christian.
 
Because the practice of philosophy is a group activity, it involves learning to talk to one another rather than through or around one another.  Learning the art of philosophical dialogue also requires learning how to recognize, construct, and evaluate arguments.  Throughout the course we will try to develop the analytic skills needed for reading philosophical texts with understanding.
 
Finally, then, let me summarize the main objectives of the course in the following way:
  • To give you some knowledge of philosophy as a discipline and of its various areas.
  • To arouse your interest in the study of philosophy.
  • To teach you the skills needed for reading philosophical literature with understanding.
  • To give you an understanding of some of the perennial problems in philosophy.
  • To acquaint you with the philosophical system of Plato.
  • To give some idea of what it means to philosophize in a way both critical and Christian, and to help you see the personal value of such philosophizing.
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
  • Overview of the course: the nature of philosophy.
  • The Platonic conception of philosophy:
    • The Euthyphro and the Socratic method
    • The Apology and the Socratic gospel
    • The Crito and the Socratic ethic
    • Plato’s conception of reality, love, and the self (Meno or Phaedo)
  • Nietzsche’s Critique of Religion, Morality, and Philosophy
  • God, Creation, and the Problem of Evil


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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