PHIL 1013/1023: Introduction to Western Philosophy (1 and 2)


What does it mean to say that we know something is true? Precisely what is knowledge and what are its limits? Can we know anything with certainty or is all of our knowledge subject to doubt?

Secondly, when we claim that something is true, how are we to understand this "is"? What does it mean to say that something is? That something "really exists"? Do some things have a greater degree of reality than others? Why does anything exist at all?

Finally, apart from what is true, what does it mean to say that something ought to be the case? What does it mean to say that we are obliged to follow certain courses of action and prohibited from following others? Precisely what is the difference between good and evil? Right and wrong? Are such distinctions merely relative, contingent upon one's particular historical and cultural situation? Or is there something universal about them?

Such questions are the concern of philosophy. The aims of this course are to introduce you to some of the most thoughtful and influential attempts in the history of philosophy to respond to these questions and, more importantly, to allow you to engage them critically so that you begin to develop your own responses to them.

In the first portion of this course (PHIL 1013: Introduction to Western Philosophy 1), we will pursue these questions from their origins in Ancient Greece through their development in the Roman World up to early Medieval Europe. In the second portion of the course (PHIL 1023: Introduction to Western Philosophy 2), we will continue to pursue these questions from the later Middle Ages through the age of enlightenment up to the present day.

Both lecture and discussion will be important components of the course and you will be expected to participate actively in discussion (this is a crucial part of learning philosophy!). Each week I will hand out reflection questions which will: a) help guide you with your assigned reading and b) function as a spring-board for discussion.

No prerequisites. PHIL 1013 and PHIL 1023 are three credit hours each.

Courses Regularly Taught:

Dr. James Gilbert-Walsh
PHIL 1013/1023: Introduction to Western Philosophy (1 and 2)
PHIL 2523: Introduction to Aesthetics
PHIL 3613: Kant
PHIL 3623: Hegel
PHIL 3543: Existentialism
PHIL 3653: Contemporary Continental Philosophy
PHIL 3763: Heidegger

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