Introduction to Philosophy

Spring 1997-- Marist College

Back to the Home Page of Prof. Greg Moses

Course Description: This course will offer a broad survey of the nature, origin, and historical pursuit of human wisdom from ancient Egypt to contemporary USA. To this end, we shall survey a few books, write papers, and engage in group discussions. The first half of the semester will be organized around the theme of "good"; the second half will be organized around the theme of "liberation."

Course Objectives: Students will be encouraged to develop critical thinking skills through reading, writing, and class discussion. In addition, students will be expected to develop and apply a "four modes of consciousness" approach to human wisdom.

· With regard to reading, students will be expected to 1) appraise the main arguments for soundness, 2) assess the importance of conclusions, and 3) develop implications for the studentís own understanding of wisdom.

· When it comes to writing, students will be expected to formulate critical judgments that are 1) interesting, 2) defensible, and 3) aware of existing scholarship.

· As for class discussion, students will be expected to take a fair share of responsibility for stimulating conversation that is 1) reflective, 2) inquisitive, and 3) engaging.

· A general theory of human consciousness will be presumed for the sake of argument in this course--that human consciousness is to be found chiefly in four modes: scientific, religious, philosophical, and mythopoetic. The hypothesis has value for its pluralism and comprehensive treatment of wisdom. By the end of the semester, students will be expected to comprehend the main tenets of the "four modes" and apply such an approach to the pursuit of wisdom today.

Assessing Outcomes: Quizzes will test comprehension of the main arguments found in readings. Papers will be reviewed for critical formulation of judgments relevant to a quest for wisdom. Class participation will be assessed for an overall contribution to interesting conversation. And the final exam will test a studentís ability to articulate the theory of "four modes of consciousness" as it may be applied to a quest for wisdom.

Grades: The final grade will be based upon the following criteria, with each category receiving equal weight:

· Quizzes and class participation

· Paper #1 (5 pages or 1,250 words--2 copies w/ folder) Click Here to See Paper Guidelines

· Paper #2 (5 pages or 1,250 words--2 copies)

· Paper #3 (5 pages or 1,250 words--2 copies)

· Final Exam (Assessing human wisdom in terms of the "four modes.")

Attendance policy: three unexcused absences (more than one week of class) will result in the overall deduction of one letter grade; five unexcused absences (more than two weeks of class) will result in the overall deduction of two letter grades; six unexcused absences (three weeks of class) will result in a failing grade for the course.

Required Texts:

Karenga, Maulana. The Book of Coming Forth by Day: The Ethics of the Declarations of Innocence. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press, 1990.

Plato. Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, & Phaedo. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1988.

Jones, LeRoi. Blues People: The Negro Experience in White America and the Music that Developed from it. New York: Morrow Quill, 1963.

De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. Trans. H.M. Parshley. New York: Vintage, 1952.

Praxis Option: In order to encourage theoretical reflections that are grounded in practical experience, this course participates in the Marist Praxis Project. Students may choose a five-week commitment to an approved community location and engage in relevant scholarly research. After completion of the activity, students should schedule a meeting with the instructor. The results of this experience should be submitted as one of the three papers, except that the length will be shortened to 700 words.

Click Here to See a List of Praxis Sites

Schedule of Readings and Assignments:

Week of:

Jan. 13-17 Introduction: Where from? Where to? (The first half of the course will be devoted to the question, "What is good?")

Jan. 20-24 Karenga "Preface and Introduction" (How have we defined good historically?)

Jan 27-31 Karenga "Text & Translation" / "Ethical Commentary" (Whatís good for us?) TOPIC & BOOK for PAPER #1 Due

Feb. 3-7 Plato "Euthyphro" (Are the gods good?) SELECT DIALOGUES for READING GROUPS THESIS for PAPER #1 Due

Feb. 10-14 Plato "Selected Dialogues" (Whatís good for Plato?) READING GROUPS PAPER #1 Due (2 copies in a folder)

Feb. 17-21 Jones [Baraka] Ch. 1-3 / Ch. 4-6 (Whatís good about music?) CULTURAL HERITAGE DISCUSSION GROUPS ASSESSMENT EXERCISE (Introduction, Premises, & Conclusion)

Feb. 24-28 Jones Ch. 7-8 / Ch. 9-10 (Whatís good about cultural heritage?) GROUPS: FOUR MODES DEFINED and APPLIED to THE GOOD LIFE

Mar. 3-7 Jones Ch. 11-12 (How do the modes contribute to the good life?) MIDTERM ASSESSMENT


Mar. 17-21 Beauvoir "Introduction" / "Translatorís Note" (The second half of the course will be dedicated to collective models of oppression & liberation.) PAPER #2 Due (2 copies)

Mar 24-27 Beauvoir "The Data of Biology"


April 1-4 Beauvoir "The Psychoanalytic Point of View"

April 7-11 Beauvoir "The Point of View of Historical Materialism" / "History"

April 14-18 Beauvoir "Dreams, Fears, Idols"

April 21-25 Beauvoir "Womanís Situation and Character" PAPER #3 Due (2 copies)

April 28-May 2 Beauvoir "The Independent Woman" / "Conclusion"

FINAL EXAM--Assessing the state of human wisdom through four modes of consciousness.

Back to Home Page for Prof. Moses