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PL101: Introduction to Philosophy

(Offer Rotation: typically 1/three academic years.  Please note that the following course description and list of course requirements may not apply in cases where the course is taught by other faculty.)

This section of Introduction is organized around the goal of carefully introducing the student to academic philosophical activity.  It is not a 'survey' course in philosophy, nor is it a history of philosophy.  While there are survey and historical elements to my section of this course, it will instead focus upon: rational argumentation, imaginative problem solving, critical assessment of ideas, and clear expression of ideas; and strives to substantially increase the student’s reading comprehension level and ability to write at a level sophisticated enough to discuss complex ideas.  Knowing that two additional Core courses in PL (2xx and 3xx) are on the student’s JCU horizon carries substantial weight in planning the semester.  Making sure to 'visit' a certain quota of historical periods and issues by semester's end will have next to no importance for us. 

The primary reading for this section of Introduction is Plato's Republic.  Students in the course will read the entirety of Plato's masterpiece; most class sessions will include close reading of various passages from the text.  Additional philosophers and texts will be introduced along the way and as they pertain to the various topics raised by Plato.

Each student will write three tutorial papers.  Tutorial papers are relatively short, but intensive, papers which address a particular set of questions about a particular set of passages from a philosophical text.  Tutorial papers are not essays; nor are they "research" papers.  Instead, their aim is to get the student to thoughtfully articulate interpretations of the text, mainly by focusing upon arguments presented by the philosopher.

In addition, each student must meet with me and at least one other student (sometimes two other students) to read and discuss two of their tutorial papers.  Normally, these tutorial meetings are based upon the first two of the student's three tutorial papers.

There are no exams for this section of PL101, nor is there a Final Exam.  Instead, our coursework will be devoted entirely to close reading of philosophical texts and to writing and discussing tutorial papers.