Introduction to Philosophy

Phil A201, Friday evening class Fall 2018

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: Friday 6:30 P – 9:25 P Chugiak Eagle River Center 218

OFFICE: Eagle River Center by appointment. 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 located at and my e-mail address is All tests 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.


August 31: 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. Society in prehistory, mythology, water and civilization. The first philosophers, Thales and water. 

Be prepared to discuss the Apology pages 21-37. 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.

September 7: Susan Wolf The Meaning of Lives page 668 - 681.

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

September 14: What do we know and how do we know it? Page 5 to page 24. A. C. Grayling

Term paper topics due.

Love and Money page 602 to 605. Richard Rorty

September 21 : Schopenhauer The Vanity of Existence page 648 to 650 Roger Scruton

"Final" term paper topic and tentative bibliography due.

A Defense of Abortion Judith Jarvis Thomson page 482 to 493

First exam given. Take this link to exam one.

September 28: A Free Spirit page 445 to 451 Nietzsche.

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.

October 5: Amie L. Thomasson Ontological Innovation in Art page 628 to 641

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

October 12: 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.

Mary Wollstonecraft Rights of Women page 591 to 593.

Second exam Take this link to exam two.

October 19: Locke, For the Good of the People page 563 to 566 and Democracy - Jefferson.

Second exam due

John Stewart Mill Liberty page 570 - 577 Zizek

Term paper second rough draft due.

October 26: 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.

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

November 2: Epicurus In Waking or in Dream page 643 - 647 and Descartes Mind and Body page 267 - 268. Chalmers

Term paper groups present initial concerns.

Nietzsche God is Dead page 250 - 256 McGrath and Dawkins

November 9: Appiah Identity page 606 - 610 Christina Hoff Sommers

Term paper groups readdress concerns.

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

November 16: Immanuel Kant Regarding an External World page 141 to 144. Brian Greene

Hanah Arendt Eternity versus Immortality page158 to 160. Roger Scruton

November 22 - 23: Thanksgiving holiday No classes

November 30: William James The Will to Believe page 257 to 262. Cornel West

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

December 7: Schopenhauer Art takes away the Mist page 624 -627 and Aristotle Tragedy page 611 - 616. Arts and Philosophy

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

Third exam. Take this link to exam three.

December 14: Final session. We will discuss the Postmodern Dilemma and a video.

Term Papers due. Third exam due.


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 April 11, 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.