PHL 1613: Introduction to Philosophy PCM

Matthew M. Daude

Section 7685

Spring, 1998

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."

PHL1613 Objectives

  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.

PHL1613 Outcomes

  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.

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 knowledge.

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 readings and email discussion.

Internet access, including an email account, is required. All written work and other course business will take place by means of email and the PHL 1613 PCM web pages.

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

1:30-2:00 & 3:30-6:00 PM
4:30-6:00 PM
11:30-12:00 noon
    (Other times by appointment)
Office RVS 2283
Voicemail 223-6132

Texts and Reading Assignments

I will post reading assignments here. I expect everyone to read and think about the assignment. Reading philosophy takes tenacity; expect to spend several hours a week working through the readings. The major texts for the course are

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

Texts marked with an asterisk are are available on line; I will post links to these texts on the reading assignments page. These texts are also available in the ACC bookstore(s). 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 coursework (and paper topics!).

For each reading assignment, I will post a "lecture" which (I hope!) will help you work through the reading. In addition, I will give you study questions for each reading assignment. Links to reading assignments, study questions, lectures, and other handouts will be found on the reading assignment page. 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 work demonstrating the pursuit of the goals of the course. There are three components:

Essays (8)




Term Paper


Due dates for written work will be posted; 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 must be submitted by email. Please see the Procedures section of the Orientation for guidelines on email.

Coursework Guidelines


The main theme of the eight essays is the Melissa/Melinda quandary and the ways in which the philosophers we are studying may contribute to their deliberation. About evey two weeks, I will give you a topic for the essay, consisting of several questions regarding the application of the theories we are studying to the Melissa/Melinda quandary. The point of the essay is not merely to answer the questions, but primarily to justify your answers, using reasons drawn from the texts and from your reflections on these theories.


I will give ile e short exams during the semester. Each exam will consist of short answer items in which I ask you to identify and explain important concepts and terms found in a quotation from the readings. 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 a passage from Plato in which the term "Form" appears. I will be looking for an explanation of what this term means in Plato's view as expressed in the text, not merely an "ordinary language" or dictionary definition. We will identify and discuss these important ideas as we proceed (especially in my lectures). Watch your email and the PHL 1613 PCM main page for exams and due dates.

For fans of Bloom's taxonomy, the exams are at the knowledge and comprehension levels, and the essay 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 theme of the course. I am not stipulating a particular format for this paper; any standard format for term papers is acceptable (MLA, for instance). However, please note the format will have to be adjusted somewhat for email delivery. I will give you more guidelines for the term paper as the semester unfolds, and I will likely make topic suggestions periodically in emails and in my lectures. Please do not hesitate to contact me about your interests. I am requiring that you hand in a topic question and a rough draft. See the PHL 1613 PCM main page for due dates.

Course Calendar

Check the PHL 1613 PCM main page frequently for due dates and other announcements.


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