PHIL1301PCM: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew M. Daude

Synonym: 47738
Spring, 2003

12:00-1:15 PM
RGC 017

Contact Information

Office Rio Grande Campus
Peach Street Office Building, Room 2-I
ACC email
Instructional email
Instructional Web

Instructional Office Hours

Monday 9:00 to 10:30 AM RGC, Peach Street, 2-I
Tuesday 9:00 to 11:00 AM online (Windows Messenger or Blackboard)
Wednesday 9:00 to 10:30 AM RGC, Peach Street, 2-I

Other times by appointment

Course Description

The ACC catalogue describes this course as "A study of the nature of philosophy and various traditions. Includes a study of major western philosophers, philosophical problems, and critical thinking."

My theme for this semester’s exploration of philosophy is "Human Knowledge and Reality." We will consider some of the major issues involved in metaphysics and epistemology, focusing on the ultimate nature of reality and the relation between any such reality and human knowledge. Throughout, we will be concerned with issues of interpretation, and we will explore the ways in which translation conceals interpretation of philosophical texts.

There are no prerequisites for Introduction to Philosophy. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading and writing portions of the TASP is required. This course is offered in the honors program, and honors program approval is required for registration.

Please note that you must review the online Course Policies and submit your First Assignment prior to beginning work on this course.

Course Rationale

Philosophy is one of the principal forces that have shaped Western civilization and history, so a basic understanding of the method and subjectmatter of philosophy affords a deeper understanding of ourselves and an informed grasp of the present. In addition, the critical thinking skills are so central to the method of philosophy that the study of philosophy provides an opportunity to learn and practice those skills in a focused way.

PHIL1301 Objectives

Departmental Course Goals

  1. to understand the nature of philosophy as both a process and a subjectmatter.
  2. to learn and practice critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.
  3. to become familiar with major divisions and problems of philosophy.


  1. Students will demonstrate improved critical reading, thinking, and writing skills.
  2. Students will be able to reason philosophically about issues of both personal and universal significance.
  3. Students will be able to identify major divisions and concepts in philosophy.

Instructional Methodology

The class will consist predominantly of discussion and in-class group work, with a required web-based component. I may use a variety of media in my presentations, including web material, etc.

Internet access and an email address are required. I will post a number of supplementary materials and other items of interest on the PHIL1301 web pages. See my instructional web for details. All written work should be submitted by email and we will use the web page for course organization . (To find the main page for your section, go back to the top of this page and click on your section number.) The major form of individual assessment will be writing assignments (essays); there will be no exams. I will also use online forms to gather information about your progress in the coursework.

Required Texts/Materials

Descartes. Meditations on First Philosophy*
Hume. Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding*
Palmer. Looking at Philosophy (recommended)

Texts marked with an asterisk are are available online; I will post links to these texts on the reading assignments page. These texts are also available in many bookstore(s), if you prefer to do your readings off-line. The recommended text, which is available in ACC's RGC bookstore, is an entertaining overview of the history of philosophy (with explanations of most of the major figures). It may be helpful in filling in gaps or as a resource for your coursework (and paper topics!).

Coursework and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on written and in-class work demonstrating the pursuit of the goals of the course. (See the Coursework Guide for a more detailed explanation of the written work.)  The application essays, a presentation, and three critiques form the basic requirement for all students. This means that, in order to earn a C or higher, you must complete all of these elements, regardless of your average at any point in the semester. You may complete an additional component for an A, as indicated in the following table:

To earn a C
  1. Complete the application essays
  2. Complete the critiques/presentation
  3. The average of your grades must be at least a C.
To earn a B
  1. Complete the application essays
  2. Complete the critiques/presentation
  3. The average of your grades must be at least a B.
To earn an A
  1. Complete the analytical essay
  2. Complete the application essays
  3. Complete the critiques/presentation
  4. The average of your grades must be an A.

In any case, the average of your grades will determine the course grade. (For example, if you completed the application essays, the critique component, and the analytical paper, but your average is a B, your course grade will still be a B. Quality should be of greater concern than quantity!) The grading criteria chart gives a detailed exposition of how I evaluate the essays. 

The grade computation system I use allows for adjustment to writing essays for a philosophy course. I compute the grade for the application essays two ways and use the higher result in the computation of the final grade. One way is the arithmetic mean of the application essays (the average of the four grades weighted equally). The other method is a "weighted average," in which the last three application essay grades are weighted proportionately greater than the first. This weighted average is intended to help people who weren't sure what to expect on the first essay, but did well on the others.

I recommend that you look carefully at my comments and feedback as you prepare for the subsequent essay. If you have questions about a comment, contact me so I can explain what I meant. After each of the application essays, I will post general comments about the assignment in the online classroom. This material will provide some additional feedback and guidance (and discussion) of the application essays.

Due dates for written work will be posted; please check the Course Calendar (inside the classroom) regularly for deadlines. You may hand in assignments earlier than the due date, but assignments must follow the stated sequence. (For instance, I will not accept essay 3 before essay 2.) Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work must be submitted by email, with the correct subject heading. Please see the email Procedure section of the Course Policies for guidelines on email.


Review my Course Policies online at

Course Outline

Check the main page for the course frequently for due dates, announcement, and important links. There is a complete Course Calendar in the online classroom.

First Assignment

Your first assignment is to complete a web-based form. Have the following information information ready:

  • the course in which you are registered
  • your full name as reflected in ACC records
  • a telephone number at which you can be reached
  • your primary email address

This information is required, but there is also a voluntary (fairly brief) survey in the First Assignment form. I encourage you to complete the survey, as it provides information that may help me support your work in this course.

When I receive your First Assignment, I will verify your enrollment. If you are officially enrolled in the course, I will send you a password to the online "classroom." If there is a problem with your enrollment, I will notify you. If you do not hear from me within 48 hours (not including Saturdays!) of submitting your First Assignment, contact me.

Please note! Submitting a First Assignment is your certification that you accept the policies and procedures set forth in the Syllabus and the Course Policies. Read this information carefully, and if you have questions or concerns about the policies and procedures for this class, please let me know before you complete this First Assignment.

To complete your First Assignment, visit the main page for the course on my instructional web. The First Assignment is due in the first week of class.

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This page was last updated 08/23/2009 08:16:53 PM by mdaude.