Introduction to Philosophy

Phil A201, section 191 Spring 2019

William Jamison

THEME: Introduces works of influential thinkers, both ancient and modern, in the Western philosophical tradition. Emphasizes central problems of knowledge, reality, and good and evil.

Special Note:  This page links to other pages on my web site that are an important part of the syllabus. Students should select those links to become familiar with the other elements of the syllabus. On following a link a page will state that it is part of the syllabus if it is. Other links are supplied as resources for students that are interested in taking advantage of them, but if they are not specifically noted as part of the syllabus it is up to the student to pursue them or not. The purpose of this is to simplify the main page of the syllabus while supplying supplementary information as necessary or to enrich the experience of taking the course.

Student Outcomes. Students will be able to:

Demonstrate their knowledge of key arguments and issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics in classical and contemporary contexts.

Demonstrate critical reasoning and communication skills by comprehending and evaluating philosophical arguments.

Demonstrate the ability to apply philosophical methodology by developing their own positions and arguments.



Journey into Philosophy: An Introduction with Classic and Contemporary Readings Har/Psc Edition

by Stan Baronett (Author)



Course grades are based on:

 Exams - 50% - nine essays showing an understanding of the materials covered in class and the assigned readings in response to questions, each with a minimum of 300 words,

 25% of the grade will be based on a term project. 

 Response to quiz questions posed in each lecture -25%.

CLASS: Hours: TR 10:05 AM – 11:25 AM

UAA main campus Arts 150 (moved from Eagle River Center 224 because of quake damage)

OFFICE: Eagle River Center by appointment or Administration and Humanities Building room 277. Here is my Current Schedule. Phone: 786-4458 (office) and 694-1023 (home). The best way to get a message to me is via e-mail. Please feel free to call my home phone. My web page is and my e-mail address is wsjamison@ALASKA.EDU. All assignments are take home essays that can be turned in using e-mail. This syllabus on my web site has links to other sources for many of the texts for the philosophers we will discuss. Some of the links include wonderful web pages on the various philosophers.


January 15:

This lecture includes an introduction to the course and description of course requirements. We will discuss: the purpose of doing philosophy, the course readings as an "all you can eat buffet", and what the tests and quizzes will be like.

January 17: Be prepared to discuss the Apology by Plato page 531 to 545. Try comparing the text with my version: what was Socrates' message to us? A major part of this topic will be Socrates, his life and mission. To read about Alcibiades check Plutarch. His relationship with Socrates is very interesting.

January 22: Susan Wolf The Meaning of Lives page 668 - 681.

January 24: Thomas Nagel What is it like to be a bat? page 300 - 309.

January 29: What do we know and how do we know it? Page 5 to page 24. A. C. Grayling

Term paper topics due.

January 31: Love and Money page 602 to 605. Richard Rorty

February 5: Schopenhauer The Vanity of Existence page 648 to 650 Roger Scruton

"Final" term paper topic and tentative bibliography due.

February 7: A Defense of Abortion Judith Jarvis Thomson page 482 to 493

February 12: A Free Spirit page 445 to 451 Nietzsche. First exam given.

Take this link to exam one.

February 14: First Exam due.

Anselm as one example of the early Medievalists. Proof that God exists. Page 198 to 211. Hildegaard von Bingen as another example.

Term paper thesis statement and outline due.

February 19: Amie L. Thomasson Ontological Innovation in Art page 628 to 641

February 21: Daniel Dennett and Jean-Paul Sartre on Free Will page 366 to 377.

February 26: Hobbes Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short page 558 -562 and Karl Marx Workers of the World page 578 to 586.

Term paper first rough draft due.

February 28: Mary Wollstonecraft Rights of Women page 591 to 593.

March 5: Locke, For the Good of the People page 563 to 566 and Democracy - Jefferson.

Second exam Take this link to exam two.

March 7:John Stewart Mill Liberty page 570 - 577 Zizek

Second exam due. Term paper second rough draft due.

March 11 - 15: Spring Break No classes

March 19: Plato and Aquinas on The Beginning of Everything Timaeus page 179 to 181 Miroslav Volf

Term paper discussion groups assigned, third draft due. This draft will be shared with group.

March 21: Hume - Commit it to the flames page 129 - 151. David Foster Wallace

March 26: Epicurus In Waking or in Dream page 643 - 647 and Descartes Mind and Body page 267 - 268. Chalmers

Term paper groups present initial concerns.

March 28: Nietzsche God is Dead page 250 - 256 McGrath and Dawkins

April 2: Appiah Identity page 606 - 610 Christina Hoff Sommers

April 4: Soren Kierkegaard What Then Would Life Be? page 651 - 667  BBC

April 9: Immanuel Kant Regarding an External World page 141 to 144 again. Brian Greene

April 11: Hanah Arendt Eternity versus Immortality page158 to 160. Roger Scruton

April 16: William James The Will to Believe page 257 to 262. Cornel West

April 18: John Dewey Democratic Habits of Thought and Action page 587 - 590. Greece or Rome

April 23: Schopenhauer Art takes away the Mist page 624 -627 and Aristotle Tragedy page 611 - 616. Arts and Philosophy

April 25: Noretta Koertge Wrestling with the Social Constructor page 63 to 68. John Searle

Third exam. Take this link to exam three. Term Papers due.

April 30: Final meeting is a double session from 10:00 A to 12:45P What is water? We will discuss the postmodern dilemma. Third exam due.

May 2: No class for final schedule.

This syllabus may be adjusted at any time to meet the class or instructor’s requirements upon one week’s notice to students. 


This page is maintained by William S. Jamison. It was last updated December 30, 2018. All links on these pages are either to open source or public domain materials or they are marked with the appropriate copyright information. I frequently check the links I have made to other web sites but each source is responsible for their own content.