PHL 1613: Introduction to Philosophy

Matthew M. Daude

Fall, 1998

MW 12:00-1:15 PM

RVS 2221

Section 5590

MW 1:25-2:40 PM

RVS 5001

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." We will pursue three goals in this course:

    1. To learn and to practice cogent reasoning
    2. To become acquainted with several major philosophers and their views
    3. To consider some of the central problems of philosophy

My theme for this semester’s exploration of philosophy is "Human Knowledge and the Sublime." We will consider some of the major issues involved in metaphysics and epistemology, focusing on the nature of transcendent reality and the relation between any such reality and human beings.

Preliminary Issues

There are no prerequisites for Introduction to Philosophy. A passing score or the equivalent on the reading portion of the TASP is required, and I highly recommend a passing score or the equivalent on the writing portion. The major form of evaluation will be written work, and the main instructional methods will include lecture and discussion.

Our objectives for the semester reflect the goals listed above: demonstration of improved critical thinking skills, familiarity with the basic problems and concepts of philosophical thought, improved understanding of our philosophical tradition, and a working knowledge of the theories we will study. The major forms of assessment will be tests (both short-answer and essay) and writing assignments.

Office Hours

3:00-4:00 PM
4:00-6:00 PM
11:00-12:00 noon
(Other times by appointment)

RVS 2283

Voicemail: 223-6132  

Texts and Reading Assignments

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

These texts will be available in the ACC bookstore(s) (and many of them are available on line). You will also need access to a packet of readings. I will have the readings on desk reserve in the LRS, and I may try to have them posted as well. We'll discuss the details in class.

The recommended text 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 journals and paper topics.

There will be a number of handouts, each of which will be available here. If you find that you must miss class, please get the handouts prior to the next class. I will post reading assignments here. I expect everyone to come to class having read and thought about the assignment. Reading philosophy takes tenacity; expect to spend at least a couple of hours outside of class for every hour we spend in class. Be sure to get in touch with me if you are having problems with the course content.

Work and Grading Policy

Your grade for this course will be based on written and collaborative work demonstrating the pursuit of the goals of the course. There are four components:



Concept Quizzes


Term Paper




We will talk about the course components in much more detail in class, but my comments under Coursework Guidelines will give you the main idea. Due dates for written work will be arranged in class; please check here regularly for announcements and deadlines. Please note that I will not accept work after the stated due date, except by prior agreement. All written work done outside of class must be typed (using a standard font—no italics!) and double-spaced. Please see my General Course Policies for further information.

Coursework Guidelines

The Journal

The theme of the journal is the Melissa/Melinda quandary and the ways in which the philosophers we are studying may contribute to their deliberation. Each week, I will give you some time in small groups to discuss the connection of the readings and their problem, and I will help by asking you some questions. You will address these questions in your journal entry for that assignment. You may submit this assignment to me by email; please follow the email guidelimar//a> below.

Concept Quizzes

I will give a series of short quizzes, each of which will consist of short answer items in which I ask you to identify and explain important concepts and terms. I will expect you to explain these terms (briefly!) in the context in which they appear in our readings and discussion. For instance, suppose I gave you the term "Form" on the quiz covering Plato. I will be looking for an explanation of what this term means in Plato's views, not merely an "ordinary language" or dictionary definition. We will identify and discuss these important ideas as we proceed. Watch the announcements page for quiz dates.

For fans of Bloom's taxonomy, the concept quizzes are at the knowledge and comprehension levels, and the journal questions go beyond comprehension to application (at least).

Term Paper

The paper will be a five-page exploration of a philosophical question, preferably relating to the journal discussion. I am not stipulating a particular format for this paper; any standard format for term papers is acceptable (MLA, for instance). However, please note that I will not accept an unformatted paper. I will discuss term papers in more detail as the semester unfolds, and I will likely make topic suggestions in class. Please do not hesitate to contact me about your interests (email is good: I recommend that you hand in a rough draft at midterm. The final version will be due on Wednesday, December 9.


For each reading assignment, you will make a list of (at least) five terms or concepts from the reading that you think are important, along with definitions. Your emphasis should be on the philosophical importance of these terms. Be sure to indicate the reading assignment on each vocabulary list. Keep your lists in a homework folder, and have these folders with you in class and ready to turn at all times. I will ask for them periodically in class. Alternately, you may submit them by email as you complete them. Please follow the email guidelines below. If you decide to submit them by email, I will count whatever I have received by classtime on the day I collect the folders.


Please note that reading assignments are, in fact, coursework as well. In our class discussion, I will assume that you have done your readings (and thought about what you have read). I will announce reading assignments in class, and they will be posted.


If you do not have access to email, contact me. There are many free services in cyberland (Hotmail, for instance) that you can use in one of the computer labs. All you need to do is sign up. I plan to have a sign-up session in the first week or two, but you can go to most any open lab and get help from the techs (they are great!).

I prefer that you not send assignments as attachments. Please put your assignment in the email (as the body or text).

Please help me organize my email by using a standard subject line:

    sect Last, First: Assignment

Once you set this up it's not hard to remember. "Sect" means the section number of the course in which you are enrolled, "Last, First" is your name, and "Assignment" means what you are sending me. "Assignment" should be whatever I have given as the heading; for instance, the first journal entry would be

    5589 Daude, Matthew: Journal 1

The second exam would be

    5589 Daude, Matthew: Exam 2

The vocabulary list from the third reading assignment would look like

    5589 Daude, Matthew: Vocabulary 3

If you just have a question or want to talk about something, use some short descriptive phrase:

    5589 Daude, Matthew: Question about Aristotle's Prime Mover

I know this is a pain, but it helps a great deal with organization on my end. Thanks in advance!


This page was last updated on 03/01/09.