Introduction to Philosophy (PHI 301)

Introduction to Philosophy (PHI 301)

Course Description

This ten-week course will use the Way of Wisdom by Karl Jaspers and video lectures on the history of Western philosophy as well as lectures on specific philosophers and selected topics. Its purpose is to prepare the student for more advanced material by introducing the principles of rational inquiry, establishing a working vocabulary, and illustrating examples of philosophy at work. Weekly quizzes will test the student’s comprehension and review the main points from both Jaspers and the video material. Three short papers (500-750 words) will ask the students to examine their responses to the material presented and to frame in their own words the issues presented. The course will conclude with a comprehensive examination.

Course Sessions and Topics:

Week 1 | What is Philosophy?
Week 2 | On Reading Philosophy
Week 3 | The Fundamental Laws
Week 4 | The Nature of the World
Week 5 | The Nature of Man
Week 6 | The Independent Philosopher
Week 7 | The Philosophical Life
Week 8 | Philosophy and Science
Week 9 | Introduction to Idealism
Week 10 | Materialism and Idealism

Learning Outcomes for this Course:

Outcome 1:  To understand the fundamental aims of philosophy: to explore the nature of the world, the nature of human being and realms of ethical and moral values. 

Outcome 2:  To learn the best ways to read and study philosophy, both ancient and modern; to grasp the early development and progress of philosophy from the Presocratics to Early Christian thinkers including Aquinas. 

Outcome 3:  To observe the changes in philosophy as it moves away from theology into the Modern Age and the thought of Kant, while still being concerned with the nature of God.

Outcome 4:  To comprehend the development of philosophy as it encounters the triumph of 19th Century science and the movement towards analytical philosophy ending in the ambiguities of Wittgenstein.  

Outcome 5:  To follow the development of how philosophy encounters arguments of faith and the Eastern philosophies of enlightenment; to see how philosophy deals with the scientific demands of empiricism and definitions of knowledge and what it is to know.

Outcome 6:  To understand the difference between an academic approach to philosophy and the work and life of an independent philosopher; to explore the way in which philosophy studies human perception and uses language to express ideas of knowing and defining reality.

Outcome 7:  To comprehend and be able to express the various ways of understanding the human self and its relation to the world through a consideration of what can be known, what is worth valuing, and what reality is.

Outcome 8:  To see how philosophy begins to explore and explain human perception and the human various faculties of thought and expression; to be able to distinguish between and among these faculties, such as intuition, ratiocination, imagination and reflection.    

Outcome 9:  To see how the movement known as Transcendentalism entered the American culture and influenced how Idealism began to shape an important era; to understand the role played by Plato in the formation and expression of Transcendentalism.

Outcome 10: To understand the philosophical differences between Materialism and Idealism and how Emerson’s ideas of self-reliance begin to define human nature and life.

Your Professor

Dr Richard GeldardRichard G. Geldard, Ph.D. | Dramatic Literature and ClassicsStanford University. Dean of Undergraduate Studies, UPR. Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (see