Course Objectives


The principal aim of this course is to afford the student introductory exposure to the Western Philosophical Tradition from its roots in the Hellenic world of the Pre-Socratic philosophers to the first stirrings of scientific thought in the 16th Century. Our present-day ways of conceiving of the world and our place in it are influenced by many cultural streams. Philosophy, particularly in the period we will investigate in this class, is especially important among these different streams. This is due in large part to the fact that philosophy encompasses or gives rise to many branches of human study during this period. The history of democracy, science, and Western religion in particular are all intertwined with the history of philosophy. The successful student in this class will attain this understanding—not just in a "who did what when" sense, but with an eye to the overall narrative arc of the philosophic enterprise of this period and its influence on Western culture.

Student Learning Outcomes

General Education Learning Outcomes:

Core Area:

By the end of the term, the successful student in this course will:

  • be able cogently to explain basic concepts, arguments, and theories in the philosophical traditions covered in the class.
  • be able cogently to explain developmental trends and interconnections among the various philosophical ideas covered in the class, both within philosophy itself and in the broader context of Western intellectual history.


By the end of the term, the successful student in this course will have:

  • demonstrated critical thinking skills pertaining to analyzing and assessing arguments, concepts, and ideas drawn from our readings.
  • demonstrated facility with information technology and information through the use of the course website, Google Calendar, and online course assignments.
  • have demonstrated the discipline and the core skills necessary for self-directed learning.

Urban Leadership Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the term, the successful student in this course will have:

  • have actively and regularly practiced civility in class discussions and collaborative group work.
  • have actively and regularly practiced collaboration both in small groups and as a class in order to realize the objectives of the course.

Programmatic Learning Outcome:

By the end of the term, the successful student in this course will have:

  • have a sufficient familiarity with basic philosophical techniques, methods and strategies to pursue other, more advanced philosophy courses.
  • have a foundational acquaintance with some of the most important thinkers, ideas and traditions in Western philosophy.

Disclaimer: The professor will, of course, endeavor to help students achieve these outcomes, but real learning requires substantial effort on the part of the student. Students should therefore not expect to achieve these outcomes without engaging in the sustained, conscientious study and actual work necessary to complete all the class requirements at an adequate or better level. Nor should it be thought that this is possible without due observation of the course policies.

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