Western Philosophical Traditions I
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"Minerva of Peace" 1896, Elihu Vedder

PHL 201-01

MARYGROVE COLLEGE

FALL 2010

Instructor:

Steven W. Patterson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religioius Studies Dept., Marygrove College

Contact Information

Office Phone: 313-927-1539
Departmental Phone: 313-927-1556
e-mail: spatterson_@_marygrove.edu Note: The best way to reach me is via e-mail. Remove the underscores before and after the '@' or just use this Contact form.
Office:346 Madame Cadillac Hall
Open Office Hours:Mondays - Thursdays, 9:30-10:30 AM. If you cannot make it to open office hours, e-mail me to schedule an appointment.


Course Information

Meeting Times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-11:45 AM in LA 236
Credit Hours: 3, Satisfies General Education Requirements
Prerequisites: LS105, ENG 107

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 Christianity in particular are all intertwined with the history of philosophy. Hence any complete understanding of these institutions requires at least some familiarity 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. Together as colleagues we will trace the progress of philosophers striving to give a true account of the relationship between thought, perception, language, and the world as it really is.

A principal goal of every undergraduate class is the enhancement of students' abilities to read, write, and think critically and carefully about difficult problems that resist easy solution. Hence this course has a secondary objective of enhancing studentsí critical thinking abilities through acquisition and application of the analytical and imaginative skills that form the core of the philosophical method. Because they are so widely applicable to concrete problems, development of the sort of critical thinking skills that make up the philosophical method is a fundamental part of general education, and one of the chief benefits of a course of this nature.

Finally, this course has been specifically designed to assist students in developing consistent routines and good habits for intellectual work. A student who completes the requirements will, in doing so, have cultivated not only these good work habits, but his or her intellectual discipline as well. Thus this course has the fourth objective of helping students become more effective, self-motivated and self-disciplined life-long learners.

Core Questions

  1. How does the way we think about the nature of reality affect the way we think about ourselves? How do our considered opinions about reality shape our thinking about ethical, social, and political ideas?
  2. What is the relationship between the structure of our language, the structure of thought, and the structure of reality?

Student Responsibilities

Assignments

Quizzes

We will have a quiz every other week. They will cover material from readings as well as lectures. Each quiz (except the first, obviously) will deal only with material covered since the last quiz. Quiz dates are given in the Course Plan. The quizzes will be administered online, not in class. We will discuss the procedure for taking the quizzes in class.

The purpose of the quizzes is to gauge student success at becoming familiar with the ideas, concepts and approaches that comprise the content of our study, as well as student’s abilities to read, write, and think critically and carefully. The lowest two grades will be dropped.

Review Questions

As noted in the course plan students will be responsible for completing and turning in review questions pertaining to the readings. The purpose of all of the questions is to help students build the intellectual discipline needed for successful lifelong learning. Study questions have the additional purposes of enabling students to engage the readings more thoroughly, preparing students for productive class discussions, and of helping students to prepare for quizzes and tests. Two sets of questions may be missed without penalty. Review questions will be graded on an "all or nothing" system, according to the following guidelines:

  1. A serious attempt must be made to answer all of the questions. Answers like "I don't know", "I couldn't find it", or just leaving a blank space will result in no credit being given for the assignment.
  2. All questions must be answered in complete sentences of standard English, not with bullet points or notes.
  3. All questions must be answered "in your own words"—all this means is that you should not simply copy passages of text down as your answers, but make some attempt to synthesize and explain the material yourself.
  4. All questions must be typed and printed in a reasonable font size, and multiple sheets must be stapled together. Do not use a cover sheet, folder, etc.
  5. You may work together outside of class on the review questions but copying is cheating. Any case of identical answers to the questions will result in the denial of credit to all parties.
  6. Remember that this is for your benefit. You will be using these questions to study for your quizzes. Put enough effort into them to make them useful in that regard.

Attendance and Participation

Philosophy, by its nature, is a highly discursive subject that requires a great deal of intellectual discipline and individual engagement of students both with the instructor and with each other. Because a community of thinkers is necessary to the enterprise, informed, consistent participation is the single most important component of our class work. Merely coming to class is not enough. The Participation component of the grade is based on two factors: 1) timely attendance to every class meeting, and 2) competent preparation and participation.

Timely Attendance:

Quality participation is impossible if one is absent or habitually late. So regular and timely attendance is expected and attendance will be taken at every class meeting (excepting the first week) via a sign-in sheet that will be circulated by the instructor at the beginning of class. Students in this class shall be allowed two (2) unexcused absences. Unexcused absences exceeding two and excessive lateness in attendance to class shall warrant deductions from the day’s participation grade. Excessive lateness shall be defined for our purposes as arriving at class fifteen minutes or more after class has begun. Excessive lateness and any absences will be excused upon proof of sufficiently extenuating circumstances to the satisfaction of the instructor.

Preparation and Participation:

Quality participation requires that you come to class prepared, and this entails doing the study questions provided for each reading on Blackboard. Although preparation is required, complete understanding is not a prerequisite for participation.

Some examples of how participation credit can be earned:
  • Thoughtful questions about the material
  • Thoughtful comments about the material
  • Philosophically relevant questions or comments, even if they’re not about the material
  • Respectful discussion with one’s colleagues at appropriate times
Some examples of how participation credit can be lost:
  • Being unprepared when called upon
  • Habitual/ Recurring Lateness
  • Inappropriate questions and comments
  • Any behavior that is disrespectful or that distracts from the learning of others.
  • Sleeping
  • Frequently departing from and returning to the classroom while class is in session
  • Text-messaging, web-surfing or otherwise manipulating small electronic devices while class is in session
  • Eating
  • Studying materials for other classes
  • Side discussions

The basic rule is: Good participation moves class discussion forward; poor participation hinders it.

The participation component of the course is intended to measure students’ preparedness, ability to deploy critical thinking skills discursively, and willingness and ability to function collegially with one another and with the instructor for the common purpose of meeting the course objectives.

Final Grade Distribution

Quizzes 45%
Review Questions 35%
Attendance and Participation 25%
Total 100%

Course Policies

Conduct Policy

It is expected that all persons in this class will comport themselves with the dignity and respect due to themselves and to their colleagues. This includes coming to class on time, refraining from having side-discussions while lecture is in progress, refraining from studying materials for other classes during lecture, refraining from bringing any food to class, refraining from texting during class, and leaving at home or turning off any and all items that make sudden, disruptive noises, especially cell phones. Please don’t bring children to class unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and if you must do so please notify me in advance as early as possible. Failure to observe these guidelines may result in deductions from the Participation grade.

Late and Make-up Work Policy

Students are accountable for turning in all assigned work on time. As in the "real world" late work is not accepted, ever, for any reason. Please don't ask. The answer is "no". You will be given sufficient time for the completion of all work assigned to you in this class. The opportunity to miss two sets of study questions and two days of class without penalty should compensate for the usual sort of absences. I will not even consider scheduling or accepting make-up assignments unless:

  1. more than two have been missed and
  2. highly unusual, severe, and sufficiently verifiable circumstances have been demonstrated to my satisfaction.

If you know, or suspect that you will be absent on the day that an assignment is due, please notify the instructor as far in advance as possible so that satisfactory alternative arrangements can be made. You cannot expect accommodation on short notice (i.e. phone messages left at 4 AM the morning of class).

Do not e-mail, FAX, or by any other means convey late or early assignments to the instructor without a prior arrangement to do so. Assignments received in such ways will be disregarded.

If you miss class for any reason, it is your responsibility to get the notes from a classmate and familiarize yourself with whatever material you may have missed. I do not give out my notes.

I highly recommend making at least one contact in class who can provide you with notes and assignments in the event that you miss class. In the interest of fairness to all, no make-up work of any

Withdrawal Policy

All withdrawal slips will be signed with no questions asked. Incompletes (grades of “I”) will not be given unless: 1) highly unusual and severe circumstances prevent a student from completing the work necessary to complete the class, 2) enough work has been done, in the instructor’s judgment, to leave only a minimal amount of work remaining for the student to complete, and 3) the student expressly requests a such a grade at least one week before the day scheduled by the College for the final exam.

Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Plagiarism or cheating on any assignment will not be tolerated for any reason. Should you do either you will receive an “E” for the assignment on the first occasion, and the student’s adviser and the Dean will be informed in accord with Marygrove’s academic standards policy. Repeated offenses will merit stronger disciplinary measures, which the instructor will pursue. Students are encouraged to consult the Academic Honesty policy in the Undergraduate Catalog for more detailed information.


Required Texts

For this class the required text is:

Norman Melchert, The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy, Fifth Edition (Oxford University Press) 2007. ISBN: 978-0-19-530682-8.

Students are responsible for timely acquisition of the course texts. Failure to acquire the texts will adversely affect student preparedness and performance.

Please note:

  • if you choose to order your books online, order them by ISBN to be sure that you get the precise edition(s) we will be using.
  • While no other books are required, it is strongly recommended that you obtain or secure access to a collegiate level dictionary and thesaurus (I recommend the handy combination of both in the Oxford Pocket Dictionary and Thesaurus, American Edition, ISBN 0-19-513097-9), and a style manual for written English such as the classic Elements of Style by Strunk and White (Fourth Edition, Allyn & Bacon, ISBN 0-205-30902) Regular access to and use of such references will be assumed.
  • The same books are used in PHL 201: The Western Philosophical Heritage 1: From Antiquity to the Early Modern Period.
  • If you cannot afford a book right away, or if you happen to lose your book, you may use the links provided in the course schedule at the end of the syllabus to complete the assignments until you obtain the book. Please bear in mind, however, that despite the essential similarity of the text, the translations and organization of many of the online readings are different, and it will likely be harder to complete the assignments when using them rather than the textbooks.

Instructor Responsibilities

Grading

Grading is the instructor's responsibility. Students have the right to grades given solely on the merit of the points achieved and weighted as described under the Assignments section of this syllabus. Accordingly, no curves, preset distributions, or other forms of manipulation will be used. All grades will be based solely on the quality of work as reflected in the points achieved. Remember that no one grade says anything about one’s overall intelligence, personal work ethic or personality. A grade (in this class at least) merely reflects performance on the assignments. Concentrate on developing your understanding of the material and the grades will follow.

Grading Scale

The grading scale below will be used to determine all letter grades in this class, including the final grade. It is completely and without exception a non-negotiable item.

A 100% - 94.5% A- 94.4% - 88.9% B+ 88.8% - 85.2%
B 85.1% - 81.5% B- 81.4% - 77.8% C+ 77.7% - 74.1%
C 74.0% - 70.4% C- 70.3% - 66.7% D+ 66.6% - 63.0%
D 62.9% - 59.3% D- 59.2% - 55.6% E 55.5% - 0%

Syllabus Revisions

The instructor bears the sole responsibility to revise any part of this syllabus should it become necessary to do so. Any such revision that takes place will be announced in class with as much advance notice as the circumstances permit. It is the student’s responsibility to remain abreast of any such changes and to alter his or her own workload accordingly. In the absence of any notification to the contrary, students should follow the course plan and reading schedule as given below, or the most recent set of revisions (if any have been made). The silence of this syllabus on any matter that may arise pertaining to this class shall not be construed to indicate that the matter is up for debate. The instructor’s interpretation of this syllabus shall be final and binding.


Communication

Students are welcome to stop by the instructor’s office anytime. Appointments are only necessary for meetings requested at times other than office hours. The most effective way to reach the instructor outside of office hours is by e-mail. Second best is by office phone. The instructor will make every effort to answer reasonable requests for help with class related matters so long as such requests are respectful. Students should be aware that e-mails sent before 9 AM, after 9 PM, or anytime on Sunday will generally not be answered right away. The same goes for phone calls placed during times other than office hours.


Disability Policy

The Instructor will, by arrangement with the student and Disability Support Services (DSS), offer reasonable accomodation for all properly documented, College-recognized disabilities. DSS offers a variety of services and accommodations to students with disabilities based on appropriate documentation, nature of disability, and academic need. In order to initiate services, students should meet with the Coordinator of DSS at the start of the semester to discuss reasonable accommodations. If a student does not request accommodations or provide documentation to DSS, the faculty member is under no obligation to provide academic accommodations. You may contact the Coordinator of DSS at 313-927-1427 or through e-mail at vkillebrew_@_marygrove.edu


Course Plan

Week 1

Tues. 9/7

Required Reading: none
Required Work: Read this website thoroughly.

Thurs. 9/9

Required Reading: none
Required Work: Write a personal reflection of 250-500 words in length that responds to the Core Questions:

  1. How does the way we think about the nature of reality affect the way we think about ourselves? How do our considered opinions about reality shape our thinking about ethical, social, and political ideas?
  2. What is the relationship between the structure of our language, the structure of thought, and the structure of reality?

Type or print out your answer on a single sheet of white paper. Handwriting will not be accepted. Write in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Use a readable font of reasonable size, and double-space your lines. Answers will be read and discussed in class. Give your own opinion. Do not use any source other than your own thinking to answer the question.


Week 2

Tues. 9/14

Required Reading: Read "A Word to Students", Melchert, pp. xv-xvii.
Required Work: None. There will be a short presentation on the nature and methods of philosophy.

Thurs. 9/16:

Required Reading: Arguments and Argumentation: A Quick Introduction
Required Work: Visit the TPM website and take the “Philosophical Health Check” prior to attendance. Be ready to discuss your results in class.

Quiz Zero, on the course syllabus, must be completed online absolutely no later than 12 AM (midnight) on Saturday, September 18.

Quiz Zero is a test of the system and is *MANDATORY. I will accept no further work from you in this class until you complete it.* We will use Quiz Zero to be certain that the system is configured properly and that you understand the procedure for using it. Because it counts as a regular quiz it's an easy way to get free points too.


Week 3

Tues. 9/21

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 1, pp.1-9
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-4 on p. 4
  • Questions 3-5 on pp. 8-9

Thurs. 9/23

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 2, pp.10-18
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-3, 5 on p. 14
  • Questions 2 & 3 on p. 19

Week 4

Tues. 9/28

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 2, pp.19-28
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-5 on p. 24
  • Questions 1, 2, & 4 on p. 28

Thurs. 9/30

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 3, pp. 37-49
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Question 1 on p. 40
  • Questions 1-3 on p. 44
  • Questions 1-4 on p. 49

Quiz 1 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on Sunday, October 3.

The password is honest.

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, only the first attempt you make will be counted. All attempts after the first will be deleted.


Week 5

Tues. 10/5

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 3, pp. 50-58
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-2 on p.58

Thurs. 10/7

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 4, pp. 59-69
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-7 on p. 69

Week 6

Tues. 10/12

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 5, pp. 85-89 (Apology, lines 17a-end of 24b) and Melchert's commentary on pp.98-99
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions Q1, Q4, Q5, and Q8-Q10 on pp. 98-99

Thurs. 10/14

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 5, pp. pp. 89-91 (Apology, lines 24c-end of 28a) and Melchert's commentary on pp. 99-100
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions Q12-Q15, Q18, and Q19 on pp. 99-100

Quiz 2 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on Sunday, October 17.

The password is perfection.

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, only the first attempt you make will be counted. All attempts after the first WILL be deleted.


Week 7

Tues. 10/19

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 5, pp. pp. 91-98 (Apology, lines 28b-end) and Melchert's commentary on pp.100-103
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions Q20-Q24, Q29, Q31, and Q37 on pp. 100-103

Thurs. 10/21

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 6, pp. 117-125
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-4 on p. 126

Week 8

Tues. 10/26

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 6, pp. 126-133
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-5 on p. 133

Thurs. 10/28

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 6, pp. 133-141
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-4 on p. 141

Quiz 3 must be completed online absolutely no later than 11:45 PM on October 30.

The password is wisdom.

Please be aware that you may take the quiz only ONCE. If you make multiple attempts, ONLY THE FIRST ATTEMPT WILL BE COUNTED. All attempts after the first WILL be deleted.


Week 9

Tues. 11/2

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 6, pp. 141-150
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-4 on p. 150

Thurs. 11/4:

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 7, pp. 156-168
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-5 on p. 168

Week 10

Tues. 11/9

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 7, pp. 168-175
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-4 on p. 179

Thurs. 11/11

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 7, pp. 175-185
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 5-7 on p.179
  • Questions 1-2 and 4 on p. 185

Quiz 4 on Aristotle must be completed no later than 11:45 PM on November 29.

The password is arete.


Week 11

Tues. 11/16

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 8, pp. 198-209
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-8 on p. 209

Thurs. 11/18

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 8, pp. 209-215
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-7 on pp. 214-215

Quiz 5 on Epicurus, the Stoics, and the Skeptics must be completed no later than 11:45 PM on November 29.

The password is upright.


Week 12

Tues. 11/23

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 11, pp. 264-275
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 3 & 4 on p. 269
  • Questions 1-5 on p. 275

Thurs. 11/25: No class meeting: Thanksgiving Holiday


Week 13

Tues. 11/30

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 11, pp. 275-285
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  1. Which one of the five arguments Aquinas gives for the existence of God do you find most convincing? Support your answers with substantive reasons (i.e. do not use reasons like "I think this one is the easiest to understand", or "I just like this one best").
  2. Explain what your author means when he says, on page 282, "Because the words we use of God get their original meaning from our experience in this world, they cannot mean exactly the same thing when applied to God." If this is true, can we really ever (truly) speak of God at all? Why or why not? Again, support your answers with substantive reasons.
  3. How does Aquinas's picture of the human soul differ from that given by Aristotle?

Thurs. 12/2

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 11, pp. 285-296
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-5 on p. 296

Quiz 6 must be completed no later than 11:45 PM on December 17.

The password is goodness.


Week 14

Tues. 12/7

Required Reading: Melchert, Chapter 12, pp. 297-318
Required Work: Answer the following questions:

  • Questions 1-7 on p. 318

Thurs. 12/9

Required Reading: none
Required Work: Reconsider all of our Core Questions. Write a personal reflection of 250-500 words in length that responds to the questions listed below:

  • Have your answers, your thinking about, or your approach to answering the core questions changed since the course began?
  • If your answers, thinking, or approach changed, how did they change and why?
  • What, for you, has been the personal significance of considering these questions?

Type or print out your answer on a single sheet of white paper. Handwriting will not be accepted. Write in complete, well-formed sentences of English. Use a readable font of reasonable size, and double-space your lines. Answers will be read and discussed in class. Give your own opinion. Do not use any source other than your own thinking to answer the question.


Week 15

Finals Week

Quiz 7 must be completed no later than 11:45 PM on December 17.

The password is christmas.

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