Monday, January 22, 2018

Philosophy of Knowledge

I am looking back at some of my favorite courses I had designed and taught throughout the years. Perhaps they will be helpful templates for a few current teachers. Here is the second one:

       PHILOSOPHY OF KNOWLEDGE (2002-2009)
       Instructor/Course Designer: Glen Brown
Course Description:

This course is a survey of the history of western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to Ludwig Wittgenstein. The goal of the course is to introduce the student to the study of interesting and relevant ideas and to offer a range of responses to such questions as “Who am I?” “What is the meaning of life?” “What is the nature of the external world?” “Is there a difference between what we claim to believe and what we claim to know?” and “What is knowledge?”  Some of the many philosophers discussed in class are Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Wittgenstein. The course covers such topics as determinism, Existentialism, the problem of evil, the nature and existence of reality, and arguments in the philosophy of religion and ethics.  The prerequisite skills for taking the course include the ability to read a text critically, to listen attentively, to take effective notes, and to reflect upon abstract concepts and various belief and value systems.  Students are able to use their notes for all quizzes and tests.  The course is recommended for students who are interested in psychology, literature, history, and/or science.

Text: Palmer, Donald. Looking at Philosophy, The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy Made Lighter. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Standard I: Reading

Students will read about challenging philosophical ideas.  They will understand the essential meaning of the text under question.

1.1   Students will demonstrate an ability to recognize the assumptions and implications of specific philosophical positions
1.2   Students will demonstrate an understanding of the terms, methods, issues, and traditions in western philosophy
1.3   Students will demonstrate a recognition and understanding of the ideas and contributions of major philosophers and the strengths and weaknesses of their theories and arguments
1.4   Students will strengthen skills in analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving through reading and discussion of diverse philosophical ideas
1.5   Students will gain insight into formal and informal aspects of logic1.6   Students will recognize the difference in scope and intention of theoretical reasoning versus practical reasoning

                        Standard II: Writing

              Students will write focused, insightful analyses of philosophical ideas.  They will be able to synthesize these ideas in complex and grammatically sound writing.

2.1 Students will demonstrate critical thinking, especially open-mindedness and persistence in regard to explaining introductory philosophical ideas in reader-response journal entries
2.2 Students will correctly characterize a philosopher's  viewpoint by evaluating the strength and/or weakness of his argument through reader-response journal entries

Standard III: Presenting and Listening                                                                                                                                  
Students will listen to and respond respectfully to viewpoints other than their own.  They will participate effectively in whole class discussion and make organized, well-delivered presentations to the entire class.        
3.1 Students will be active in large group discussion, thereby listening and interacting effectively to promote the learning of the entire group in a dialogical context
3.2 Students will express themselves in whole class discussion, supporting and defending logically their position when challenged       
3.3 Students will present clearly and coherently when leading a class discussion
3.4 Students will demonstrate an ability to apply principles, concepts, and theories studied
3.5 Students will demonstrate the ability to identify and evaluate philosophical arguments
3.6 Students are expected to practice leadership skills and construct arguments of their own
3.7 Students are encouraged to think clearly and formulate and revise their own opinions 
3.8 Students will demonstrate an ability to approach new ideas with an open mind

Each assignment is to be read by the date assigned.  In your philosophy journal, record your notes on the assigned philosopher(s) read for each day, your reader-response, and then your class discussion notes.  Your notes should be about ½ to ¾ of a page, preferably in an outline form.  Your reader-response entry should be a reflective paragraph that reveals your questions, insights, interpretations, analysis, and commentary.  The journal is required and will be weighted approximately 50% of your grade each quarter.  Without a completed journal, you will not pass the course.  Note: you will be able to use your journals for unannounced quizzes and for your final exam.  You can see how valuable it will be for your grade in this class.  If you type this journal, you will earn an extra 2% of your point total for each quarter grade.
 Use this format for your journal:
 For introduction of each entry, record —

Number of Entry – Date of Assignment – Title of Assignment
for example: (#3 Date Pre-Socratic Philosophers: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes)

For order of entries—

Your Notes from the Reading Assignment – Your Reader Response – Your Class Discussion Notes (and any Additional Responses you may have based upon our Class Discussion)

Student Discussion Leaders:

For each day that we discuss the philosophers assigned, we will have 2-3 discussion leaders for our class.  They will be assigned in advance.  Discussion leaders are responsible for summarizing the most important points, leading class discussion, asking pertinent questions, analyzing the philosophers under question, and connecting and synthesizing philosophical ideas from previous philosophies.  The rest of the students will be taking notes, asking questions, and responding to discussion.  To help you do a fine job, leaders should check out this website:  Active daily participation and assigned leadership roles will earn you an additional 1-5% of your point total for each quarter grade.

Quizzes and Tests: All quizzes are usually unannounced, but you may use your journal notebooks while taking them.  Bring them to class each day!  Quizzes are weighted approximately 50% of your grade.  The only test we will have is the Final Exam.

Homework Policy:  No late journal is accepted.  Keep up with the assignments so you won’t fall behind or do poorly on the quizzes. Always be prepared. 

Absences:  It is your responsibility to follow the class calendar and to inquire about any class that you miss.  If you have an excused absence from class, you must make up the quiz the day of your return before school.  If you have a field trip, you must take your quiz the day it is scheduled before school.  Failure to follow these directions will result in a zero.

Plagiarism:  Borrowing facts, ideas, or language from others without crediting the source is plagiarism.  It is your responsibility to read, understand, and adhere to the Plagiarism and Cheating Policy. 

Teacher Availability:  You are responsible for your own education and intellectual development.  If you do not understand what is being discussed in class, set up a conference with me before school.  

Philosophy, 1st Quarter:
All reading and writing assignments are due on designated dates.  Be prepared!  Quizzes may be unannounced.
M. 8-25                 Calendar of Assignments and Other Pertinent Information for You
T. 8-26                   Tuesdays with Morrie (your 1st journal entry)
                                Intro to Looking at Philosophy, pgs. 1-9; choose one topic for consideration on page 9 and follow the journal entry directions (This is your 2nd journal entry)
W. 8-27                 Pre-Socratic Phil.: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, pgs. 10-20
Th. 8-28                Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Zeno, pgs. 20-32
F. 8-29                   Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democritus, pgs. 32-42
T. 9-2                     Tuesdays with Morrie (6th journal entry)
W. 9-3                   Determinism essay: Hard Determinism
Th. 9-4                  Determinism essay: Soft Determinism
F. 9-5                     Determinism essay: Libertarianism (9th journal entry)
M. 9-8                   Sophists: Protagoras, Gorgias, Thrasymachus, Callicles, Critias;
Socrates, pgs. 44-54
T. 9-9                     Tuesdays with Morrie
W. 9-10                 Plato, pgs. 55-67
Th. 9-11                Plato; The Speculative Philosophies… essay: Plato section
F. 9-12                   Plato (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous days)
M. 9-15                 Plato (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous days)
T. 9-16                   Tuesdays with Morrie (14th journal entry)
W. 9-17                 Aristotle; The Speculative Philosophies… essay: Aristotle section
Th. 9-18                Aristotle, pgs. 68-85
F. 9-19                   Aristotle; choose one topic for consideration on pages 83-85 and follow directions
M. 9-22                 Epicureanism, Stoicism, Neo-Platonism, pgs. 87-98
T. 9-23                   Tuesdays with Morrie (19th journal entry)
W. 9-24                 Medieval/Renaissance Phil./St. Augustine, 100-09
Th. 9-25                St. Augustine, Problems in Phil. of Religion essay: Problem of Evil
F. 9-26                   Encyclopediasts, pgs. 109-10; St. Anselm, pgs. 114-17     
M. 9-29                 Ontological Argument: Problems in Phil. of Religion essay
T. 9-30                   Tuesdays with Morrie; choose one topic for consideration on page 98 and follow the journal entry directions (24th & 25th journal entries here)
W. 10-1                 Muslims & Jewish Phil.: Averroes, Maimonides, pgs. 117-26
Th. 10-2                St. Aquinas, pgs. 126-38 (Realism)
F. 10-3                   Cosmological Argument: Problems in Phil. of Religion
M. 10-6                 Teleological Argument: Problems in Phil. of Religion
T. 10-7                   Tuesdays with Morrie (30th journal entry)            
W. 10-8                 Miracles, Faith, Reason, Revelation: Problems in Phil. of Religion essay
Th. 10-9                William Ockham, pgs. 138-49
F. 10-10                 Descartes, pgs. 150-68
W. 10-15              Descartes (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous day)
Th. 10-16              Descartes; The Nature & Existence of the External World: pgs. 19-30
F. 10-17                Journals for 1st Quarter due (34 numbered, named, dated and written entries)
M. 10-20              TBA
T. 10-21                Tuesdays with Morrie; choose one topic for consideration on pages 148-49 and follow the journal entry directions (This will begin your 2nd quarter journal)
W. 10-22              Media (Love & Death)
Th. 10-23              Media
F. 10-24                 Media (your 3rd journal entry is on Love & Death)

Philosophy, 2nd Quarter:                                                                                                    
All reading and writing assignments are due on designated dates.  Be prepared!  Quizzes may be unannounced.
M. 10-27              Hobbes, Spinoza, pgs. 169-78
T. 10-28                Tuesdays with Morrie
W. 10-29              Leibniz, Locke, pgs. 178-91
Th. 10-30              Nature & Existence of the External World: pgs. 30-35
F. 10-31                 Berkeley, Hume, pgs. 192-206
M. 11-3                 Some Representative Theories of Knowledge: pgs. 37-56
T. 11-4                   Tuesdays with Morrie (10th journal entry)
W. 11-5                 Kant, pgs. 206-20
Th. 11-6                Kant; choose one topic for consideration on pages 219-20 and follow       directions
F. 11-7                   Hegel, pgs. 223-32
M. 11-10              Schopenhauer, pgs. 233-42
T. 11-11                Tuesdays with Morrie
W. 11-12              Schopenhauer (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous day)
Th. 11-13              Media (Waking Life)
M. 11-17              Media (16th journal entry is on Waking Life)
T. 11-18                Tuesdays with Morrie
W. 11-19              Existentialism Lecture (18th journal entry)
Th. 11-20              Kierkegaard, 242-53
F. 11-21                Kierkegaard (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous day)
M. 11-24              Sartre, pgs. 362-75 (20th journal entry)
T. 11-25                Tuesdays with Morrie
M. 12-1                 Sartre (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous days)
T. 12-2                   Tuesdays with Morrie   
W. 12-3                 Camus, The Rebel 
Th.. 12-4               Marx, pgs. 254-66
F. 12-5                   Nietzsche, 267-75
M. 12-8                 Nietzsche (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous days)
T. 12-9                   Tuesdays with Morrie (26th journal entry)
W. 12-10              Utilitarianism: Betham, Mill, pgs. 276-84
Th. 12-11              Frege, pgs. 284-91
F. 12-12                 Pragmatism: James, Dewey, pgs. 295-308
M. 12-15              Analytic Tradition: Moore, pgs. 308-13
T. 12-16                Tuesdays with Morrie (31st journal entry)
W. 12-17              Russell, pgs. 314-321
Th. 12-18              Russell (no journal entry here, just continue your notes on previous day)
F. 12-19                 10th Annual Brownstock (Dum vivimus vivamus)
M. 1-5                   Tuesdays with Morrie
T. 1-6                     Tuesdays with Morrie/Koppel Interview 
W. 1-7                   Wittgenstein, pgs. 327-39
Th. 1-8                  Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
F. 1-9                     Course Evaluation/ Journals for 2nd Quarter due (36 numbered, named, dated and written entries)
M. 1-12                 Media
T. 1-13                   Media
W-F 1-14-16        Semester Exams
Vocabulary that you will learn and apply in this class:

analytic proposition
a posteriori proposition
a priori proposition
begging the question fallacy
Cartesian Rationalism
categorical imperative
causal oversimplification fallacy
concurrency fallacy
cosmological argument
determinism (soft, hard, libertarian)
ethical teleologists, ethical deontologists
faulty analogy fallacy
free will
hasty generalization fallacy
logical positivism
material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, final cause
metaphysical idealism
naïve realism
necessary condition
non-sequitur fallacy
noumenal world
ontological argument
post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy
principle of identity
principle of non-contradiction
principle of excluded middle
problem of evil
quantum mechanics
representative realism
sophisticated naïve realism
sufficient condition
synthetic proposition
tautology fallacy
teleological argument
wishful thinking fallacy

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