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PHIL101: Introduction to Philosophy

Unit 1: What Is Philosophy?   What is philosophy all about, and why should we study it? The second question is easier to answer than the first. Studying philosophy gives us insight into the world and our place within it and thus provides us with a guide for conducting our lives. Understood as the history of human thought, philosophy relates to the beginning of nearly every other major academic discipline - from physics to psychology, from religious studies to biology, and so on. Not only does philosophy force us to think hard about difficult and fundamental questions, it also teaches us how to think - providing us with analytical skills we can use in many other areas. As for the question of what philosophy is about, it is helpful to begin, as many great philosophers have, with the idea that the nature of philosophy is itself a matter for philosophical debate. Phrasing it this way gives us a sense of what to expect throughout this course, because whatever particular topics philosophers are concerned with, their practice is always one of questioning. Philosophers from many different time periods and cultures have asked questions and tried to answer these questions in ways that can be compared and contrasted. For example, some philosophers believed that true knowledge came from contemplation and understanding of the human mind, while others felt that reliable knowledge came from sensory experiences and testing ideas against the physical world. The following are some questions philosophers might consider: How do I know that what I believe is true? What is the difference between right and wrong? What makes an action just? What makes a painting beautiful? Does God exist? Are ideas and concepts more “real,” or is physical matter more “real?” What happens to us after we die? What kind of government is justified? In this unit, we will look at the question “What does it mean to study philosophy?”

Unit 1 Time Advisory
Completing this unit will take you approximately 11.25 hours.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 6.75 hours ☐    Subunit 1.1.1: 0.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.1.2: 4.25 hours

☐    Subunit 1.1.3: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.1.4: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Assessment #1: 1 hour

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:
- Explain the intrinsic value of philosophical investigation as an academic discipline and as a lifelong pursuit of “happiness,” the “good life,” and “wisdom;” - Describe the fundamental philosophical subfields of inquiry, the methods of inquiry, and the lexicon used within a variety of philosophical debates; and - Explain the general principles of philosophical writing, the characteristics of good philosophical writing, and the general premises of philosophical argumentation.

1.1 The Value of Philosophy   1.1.1 Why Study Philosophy?   - Lecture: Wayne State University: Dr. John Corvino's “Why Study Philosophy?” Link: Wayne State University: Dr. John Corvino's: “Why Study Philosophy?” (Flash)
 
Instructions: Watch this brief video for an introduction to philosophical inquiry. The anecdote that Dr. Corvino uses in this video demonstrates that we hold a lot of beliefs out of habit and circumstance, not necessarily because we have good reasons to believe it. Philosophy is essential in order to question the validity of our beliefs and provide better explanations for them.

 Watchig this video and taking notes should take approximately 10
minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the [video source
page](http://clasweb.clas.wayne.edu/ClasTube) at Wayne State
University's website.
  • Lecture: BigThink.com: Rutgers University: Dr. Tim Maudlin’s: “The Value of Philosophy in Our Daily Lives” Link: BigThink.com: Rutgers University: Dr. Tim Maudlin’s: “The Value of Philosophy in Our Daily Lives (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video, approximately 3 minutes, for Dr. Maudlin’s take on the importance of philosophy in our lives. His comments are reminiscent of G. K. Chesterton, who once said that “the most practical and important thing” about someone is his or her “view of the universe.” We are all mortal, and until each and every one of us grapples with the largest of existential questions - “Who are we?” “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?” - we have not lived, we are not prepared to die, and we surely are not well educated. 

    Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 10 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: BigThink.com: Princeton University: Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s: “What Does a Philosopher Do?” Link: BigThink.com: Princeton University: Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s: “What Does a Philosopher Do? (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch this video, approximately 10 minutes, for Dr. Appiah’s comments on the work of philosophy.

    Watching this video and pausing to take notes should take approximately 20 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.2 The Intrinsic Value of Philosophical Investigation for Aristotle   - Web Media: YouTube: AudibleSuperfan: Will Durant’s “Aristotle’s Ethics, the Nature of Happiness and the Golden Mean” Link: YouTube: AudibleSuperfan: Will Durant’s “Aristotle’s Ethics, the Nature of Happiness and the Golden Mean” (YouTube)
 
Instructions: Watch this video, approximately 6 minutes, on Aristotle’s argument for the pursuit of happiness via philosophical engagement with the world and the practice of “the golden mean.” 
 
Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Aristotle’s Metaphysics: Book I Link: Aristotle’s Metaphysics: Book I (HTML)
     
    Instruction: Read Book I from Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Note that Aristotle both describes philosophy as a way of gaining knowledge and advises us on the best type of life or the happiest type of life. He finds that philosophy gives each individual a chance to cultivate their best possible self. In practicing philosophy, one learns to act with certain intellectual virtues and moral virtues, and being virtuous leads to a happy, flourishing life.
     
    Studying and reading this text should take approximately 4 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

1.1.3 The Intrinsic Value of Philosophical Investigation for Descartes   - Lecture: BBC Radio: Melvyn Bragg’s: “Cogito Ergo Sum” Link: BBC Radio: Melvyn Bragg’s “Cogito Ergo Sum” (Adobe Flash)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and select the “Listen Now” icon. Listen to this discussion about one of the most famous statements in philosophy: Descartes’s “Cogito ergo sum.”
 
Listening to this broadcast should take approximately 1 hour.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.4 The Intrinsic Value of Philosophical Investigation for Bertrand Russell   - Reading: Bertrand Russell’s: The Problems of Philosophy: “Chapter XV: The Value of Philosophy” Link: Bertrand Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy: “Chapter XV: The Value of Philosophy (PDF)
 

 Instructions: Click on the link above to access the PDF file. Read
the text (4 pages) for an argument that philosophical investigation
is intrinsically valuable. This essay is drawn from a work by the
famous twentieth century British philosopher Bertrand Russell. While
the traditional view of philosophy is that it should be valued for
the truths it reveals, Russell makes a case that its real value lies
in the *pursuit* of truth and the critical attitude it helps its
practitioners to develop.  

 Studying this text should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: This material is in the public domain.

1.2 The Philosophical Landscape   1.2.1 The Main Areas of Philosophy   - Reading: The American Philosophical Association’s: “Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates” Link: The American Philosophical Association’s: “Philosophy: A Brief Guide for Undergraduates (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage to get a sense of the scope of the discipline and a feeling for the subject matter of subsequent units.

 Reading this webpage should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Lecture: iTunes U: University of Oxford: Dr. Marianne Talbot’s “A Romp through the History of Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Present Day” Link: iTunes U: University of Oxford: Dr. Marianne Talbot’s “A Romp through the History of Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Present Day (iTunes U)

    Instructions: Click on the link above and select “View in iTunes” for the lecture titled “A Romp through the History of Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics to the Present Day.” This lecture provides a fascinating overview of the philosophical landscape.
     
    Watching this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2 What Is an Argument?   - Reading: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Argument” Link: University of Tennessee at Martin’s Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: “Argument (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this webpage for a better understanding of the features of a philosophical argument. An argument is the principal method that enables a philosopher to develop his or her views. Arguments may take a wide variety of forms; they may be linked with or dependent on other arguments, but they always proceed from a set of assumptions and attempt to establish a conclusion. 
 
Reading this text should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.3 Guidelines for Writing Philosophy Papers   - Reading: University of Notre Dame: Dr. William Ramsey: “Guidelines for Philosophical Writing” Link: University of Notre Dame: Dr. William Ramsey: “Guidelines for Philosophical Writing (PDF)
 
Also available in:

[HTML](http://ocw.nd.edu/philosophy/introduction-to-philosophy-1/resources/guidelines-for-philosophical-writing)  
    
 Instructions: Read this article about guidelines for writing
philosophy papers. These tips are also useful in composing short
responses for assessments and exams.  

 Reading and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: The article above is released under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike License
3.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/). It is
attributed to Dr. William Ramsey and the original version can be
found
[here](http://ocw.nd.edu/philosophy/introduction-to-philosophy-1/resources/guidelines-for-philosophical-writing).

1.2.4 Review the Glossary of Technical Terms in Philosophy   - Reading: Jim Pryor’s “Philosophical Terms and Methods” Link: Jim Pryor’s “Philosophical Terms and Methods” (HTML)

 Instructions: Before you begin your first assessment for this
course, you may wish to make certain you are familiar with this
resource. Remember to save it as a bookmark in your web browser for
consultation throughout this course, especially prior to each
assessment.  

 Here is a special tip about what you should look for in the terms:
philosophers often use terms in different ways, and especially in
ways that do not quite match common usage. For example, while in
common speech “a logical reason” means something like “a reason that
makes sense” or “a reason that sounds reasonable,” in philosophy “a
logical reason” typically means “a reason related to a technical
result in the theory of logic.” Pay special attention to other terms
that have specialized meanings in philosophy, and be sure to refer
back to this resource throughout the course.   

 Reviewing this resource should take approximately 30 minutes.   

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative
Commons Attribution-](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)[NonCommercial-NoDerivs
2.0 Generic
license](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/). It is
attributed to Jim Pryor.

Unit 1: Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s: “Assessment #1” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s: “Assessment #1” (PDF)
 
Instructions: This assessment will ask you to interact with a variety of philosophical arguments as to the importance and value of philosophy.  Check your responses here.

 Completing this assessment should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpages above.