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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "PH 101-1"
COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Philosophical Thinking "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Brunella Antomarini
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:45 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
We all have opinions about what is true and false, right and wrong, what is just, divine, and beautiful, what the self, mind, and soul are, or what makes us free. But can we justify our opinions about such things? Have we given rational and open-minded consideration to criticisms and alternatives, or are our opinions perhaps based only on prejudices and assumptions? In this course you will learn to use philosophical thinking to test and improve your opinions and your ability to evaluate the claims of important philosophers. Through the study and discussion of philosophical texts, classic or contemporary, you will grapple with issues of fundamental human importance and develop your capacities for careful reading, clear writing and speaking, and logical argumentation.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

 

PHILOSOPHICAL GROUNDS OF SCIENCE AND POLITICS



The purpose of this course is to give students an opportunity to understand and use the basic philosophical instruments of argumentation. In fact having and settling arguments is a basic function in any kind of intellectual or scientific discipline and research and to make the right choice of philosophical terms in discussions allows students not only to understand where the history of philosophy finds its origins, but also enables them to expand their conceptual analysis from classical to modern thinking.

Students are encouraged to focus on:

1. how philosophers use their arguments to support scientific and political theories or hypotheses;

2. what is a philosophical solution of a scientific or a political problem;

3. how philosophers always go back to perennial questions.

The following areas will be examples of the function of philosophical thinking, examined through excerpts from classical and modern philosophers' texts:

 

 

COMPREHENSION

- of our origins (Machiavelli; Vico; Marx)

- of science (Galileo; Descartes; Kant)

- of technology (Haraway)

- of economy (Smith; Marx)

- of logic and language (Aristotle; Locke; Vico; Kant)

 

CLARIFICATION

- as self-revelation (Plato; Nietzsche)

- of political action (Smith; Marx; Arendt)

- of behaviour (Aristotle; Smith; Arendt; Haraway)

 

Classes work will involve a general historical reconstruction selected Western philosophical traditions, to be read and commented together in the philosophers' original words, with a special focus on the most influential currents such as idealism, materialism, rationalism, criticism, nihilism, AI.

Each class consists of introductory lectures, textual analyses and in-class discussions.

Each session requires the reading of some of the most representative thinkers in each historical frame. The course will focus on practical applications of philosophical thinking, in the main fields of metaphysics, politics and science.  One or more films are envisaged, depending on time schedule.

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

 

By the end of the semester, through constant argumentative practice, students will be capable to argue about the major fields of philosophical analysis, and of critically constructing their own perspective on the related issues. They will be able to distinguish the necessary and right questions from the outdated or irrelevant questions, through conceptual clarification and examination of real life and real world problems. 

The argumentative character of philosophy entails strong motivation, constant attention, active participation in class and interaction with the professor.

 


TEXTBOOK:
NONE
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
- Mid-term exam  25%
final exam  40%
1 paper at home 20%
Attendance participation 15%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for t
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

Students should plan to regularly attend the class, since we will often broaden the topics contained in the texts to contemporary issues, and since this class is mainly intended to the rousing of students’ personal thoughts and ideas.

Please refer to the university catalog for the attendance and absence policy.

Academic honesty

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course.

The use of the computer is not allowed in class.

ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE


REFERENCE TEXTS:

Wells, In the Country of the Blind

Thomas Nagel, What does it all mean? A very short introduction to philosophy, 1987

G. Skirrbekk, History of Western Thought, Routledge 2001.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

http://plato.stanford.edu/

Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy

https://is.muni.cz/el/1421/podzim2014/LJMgrB07/um/Cambridge_Dictionary_of_Philosophy.pdf

Main readings in excepts:

H. Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (Cleveland and NY 460-475)

Aristotle, Metaphysics (I part)

R. Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditation II

Hawaray, Cyborg Manifesto (Routledge 149-155).

T. Hobbes, Leviathan (Ch.17)

I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (Pluhar, ed. Excerpts from Preface, Transcendetal Aesthetic,  Antinomies of Reason)

J. Locke, Treatise on Human Undertanding (Marriott, ed. chs 15,18,25)

K. Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire (Internet Arch. Padover ed. pp. 1-13)

F. Nietzsche, Gay Science (par. 110-112). Human, All Too Human (par. 11-19)

Plato, from Sophist, Phaedo (introductory pages)

K. Popper, Open Society (Ch. 6,8)

A. Smith, Wealth of Nations  (Online Campbell, Skinner, edd. Book II, Ch. III); Moral Sentiments (Online 2016, Bennett, ed. pp. 62-71; 96-100)

G. Vico, New Science (NY 1948; pp. 104-108; 138-142)

Wells, In the Country of the Blind (online)

FILMS

Excerpts from

Modern Times by C.Chaplin

The Matrix by A. and L. Wachowsky

Enjoy Poverty, by Renzo Martens

WEEK 1

Introduction: what is philosophy?

Read Wells

WEEK 2

Socrates, Plato and ancient idealism (Matrix)

the Myth of the Cave

Aristotle and naturalism

The Third man's argument

WEEK 3

Plato and Aristotle on politics

Machiavelli and political theory

the circle of governments

WEEK 4

Modern Philosophies, Galileo

the boat, the tides, Torre di Pisa

Hobbes

the state of nature

WEEK 5

Descartes (Matrix)

methodic doubt

Reading Descartes

WEEK 6

Locke

A.Smith

ideal spectator

WEEK 7

Reading Smith

invisible hand

MID-TERM EXAM

WEEK 8

Vico and philosophy of language

the thunderbolt as god

Kant and science (Matrix)

Kant's dove

WEEK 9

Reading Kant on finality of nature

Kant on politics

Kant on earth before property

WEEK 10

Marx (C.Chaplin) 

Nietzsche

WEEK 11

Reading Nietzsche

Arendt

WEEK 12

Reading Arendt

Popper

WEEK 13

Haraway

Turing test/Braitenberg vehicles

Review

WEEK 14

Review

FINAL EXAMINATION