PH101 Intro to Philosophical Thinking

for FA 2004

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PH 101 

Introduction to Philosophical Thinking


Fall Semester, 2004

Copley 232

Machrina L. Blasdell

Assistant Professor, Religion & Philosophy

Office:  Copley 210

Office hours:  T & Th 9:00-10:00 and1:00-2:00

                    Wednesdays  12:30-1:30

                     …and by appointment.

Office telephone: 816  741-2000 x6821


Term:  August 24-December 16, 2004

Class day & time:  Tuesdays & Thursdays  10:10-11:25 am

Credit hours:  3                                                                                           



The mission of Park University, an entrepreneurial institution of learning, is to provide access to academic excellence, which will prepare learners to think critically, communicate effectively and engage in lifelong learning while serving a global community.



Park University will be a renowned international leader in providing innovative educational opportunities for learners within the global society.


COURSE DESCRIPTION:  An entry into philosophy by one of two routes:  an exploration of philosophical problems through reading and discussing selections from the great thinkers or a lecture-discussion survey of philosophy conceived in the broadest fashion.


EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY:  I believe in the importance of interaction between students and instructor, students and students, arising out of lectures, readings, quizzes, dialogues, examinations, internet resources, videos, web sites and writings.  I will challenge students to know the history and geography of their place in the world community and to be aware of movements around them.  I expect students to pay attention to maps, to the news, and to what people are doing and saying in the world.


GOALS AND OBJECTIVES:  This is essentially an introduction to philosophy, and as such, we will begin at the beginning in surveying the various disciplines and approaches.  This is not intended to be a complex consideration of philosophical issues, but rather the learning of a new vocabulary for concepts we likely already have some familiarity with.  By the end of the semester students should have a sense of the depth and breadth of the field of philosophy, and a greater understanding of how the philosophical disciplines are a part of our everyday experience.



COURSE TEXT:  Helen Buss Mitchell, Roots of Wisdom, 4th edition

         There is also a Study Guide and A Multicultural Reader by the same      author, which are highly recommended.  I expect to draw from both resources for class, though they are not required texts.

           Other readings may be assigned.


ACADEMIC HONESTY: “Academic Honesty is required of all members of a learning community.  Hence, Park will not tolerate cheating or plagiarism on tests, examinations, papers or other course assignments.  Students who engage in such dishonesty may be given failing grades or expelled from Park.”


PLAGIARISM: Plagiarism—the appropriation or imitation of the language or ideas of another person and presenting them as one’s original work—sometimes occurs through carelessness or ignorance.  Students who are uncertain about proper documentation of sources should consult their instructors.”


ATTENDANCE POLICY: Instructors are required to keep attendance records and report absences.  The instructor may excuse absences for cogent reasons, but missed work must be made up within the term of enrollment.  Work missed through unexcused absences must also be made up within the term of enrollment, but unexcused absences may carry further penalties.  In the event of two consecutive weeks of unexcused absences in a term of enrollment, the student will be administratively withdrawn, resulting in a grade of “F”.  An Incomplete will not be issued to a student who has unexcused or excessive absences recorded for a course.  Students receiving Military Tuition Assistance (TA) or Veterans Administration (VA) educational benefits must not exceed three unexcused absences in the term of enrollment. Excessive absences will be reported to the appropriate agency and may result in a monetary penalty to the student.  Reports of F grade (attendance or academic) resulting from excessive absence for students receiving financial assistance from agencies not mentioned above will be reported to the appropriate agency.


LATE SUBMISSION OF COURSE MATERIALS: Ordinarily, work is expected to be turned in as assigned.  Deviations from this policy will be allowed without penalty only and entirely at the instructor’s discretion.


COURSE ASSESSMENT:  Students will be expected to attend class, to complete assignments, and to participate actively in class discussion. Occasional reflection papers may be assigned.  Students will be asked to compile their “finds” from the news media, advertisements, comics, and so on, and contribute them to class discussion.  Because this is an introductory survey course, we will work our way through the text from beginning to end, with periodic examinations on the material just studied.


Class participation, which includes attendance, preparation and completing assignments, will count for one quarter of the final grade.  Half of the grade will be determined by scoring of the periodic examinations of material.  There will be one comprehensive exam approximately mid-term, following the first section of the text.  There may be a final comprehensive exam at the instructor’s discretion.  The final quarter of the grade will be determined by a project and presentation.



CLASSROOM RULES OF CONDUCT: Behavior consistent with Park University guidelines is expected. As already stated, attendance and participation are expected.

Computers make writing and revising much easier and more productive.  Students must recognize though that technology can also cause problems.  Printers run out of ink and hard drives crash.  Students must be responsible for planning ahead and meeting deadlines in spite of technology.  Be sure to save copies of your work to disk, hard drive, and print out paper copies for backup purposes.


DISABILITY GUIDELINES: Park University is committed to meeting the needs of all students that meet the criteria for special assistance.  These guidelines are designed to supply directions to students concerning the information necessary to accomplish this goal.  It is Park University’s policy to comply fully with federal and state law, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, regarding students with disabilities and, to the extent of any inconsistency between these guidelines and federal and/or state law, the provisions of the law will apply.  Additional information concerning Park University’s policies and procedures related to disability can be found on the Park University web page:


Course Outline:


August 24 & 26  Introduction to course, class. 

Assignment:  Familiarize yourself with the text, and read the introductory portions through Historical Interlude A:  A Worldwide Context for Western Philosophy.

Read chapter 1:  Why Philosophy?. 

Begin a notebook of Who, What, and whatever other categories you might find helpful, to keep track of the new vocabulary and concepts which we will discuss this semester.  


August 31 & September 2  Chapter 1:  Why Philosophy?  Is This All There Is?

Assignment: Read  chapter 2:  Reality and Being


September 7 & 9:  Reality and Being:  Is What You See What You Get?

Assignment:  Read Historical Interlude B:  Philosophy and Early Christianity


September 14 & 16:  Philosophy and Early Christianity

Assignment: Read chapter 3  Human Nature


September 21 & 23:  Human Nature:  Who or What Are We, and What Are We Doing Here?

Assignment:  Read chapter 4:  Philosophy and God


September 28 & 30:  Philosophy and God:  Who’s in Charge?

Assignment:  Read Historical Interlude C:  From the Medieval to the Modern World.  Look over Part Two of text


October 5 & 7:  First Exam

How Am I to Understand the World?  Questions of Epistemology

Assignment:  Read chapter 5  Knowledge Sources


October 12 & 14:  Knowledge Sources    Do You See What I See?

Assignment:  Read chapter 6  Truth Tests


FALL BREAK  no classes 10/18-22


October 26 & 28:  Truth Tests   Do You Swear to Tell the Truth…?

Assignment:  Read Chapter 7  Aesthetic Experience


November 2 & 4: Aesthetic Experience   Is Truth Beauty and Beauty Truth?

Assignment:  Read Historical Interlude D and look over Part Three of text


November 9  (no class on 11/11:  Veterans Day): By What Values Shall I Live in the World?  Questions of Axiology

Assignment:  Read chapter 8  Political Philosophy


November 16 & 18:  Political Philosophy   Is Big Brother Watching?

Assignment: Read chapter 9  Social Philosophy


November 23 (no class 11/25:  Thanksgiving):  Social Philosophy    Am I My Brother’s or My Sister’s Keeper?

Assignment: Read chapter 10  Ethics


November 30 & December2:  Ethics   What Will It Be:  Truth or Consequences?

Assignment:  Read Historical Interlude E and Appendix

December 7 & 9:  (Last week of class) A Revolution in Philosophy?

Assignment: Prepare for Student Presentations during Final Exam Time


December 13-17:  Final Exam Week

Assignment:  Have a wonderful break!


ALL OF THE ABOVE IS SUBJECT TO IMPROVEMENT according to the needs and interests of the class.  Additional readings and activities may be assigned.