Hopkinsville Community College
Click here on Student Resources to view Powerpoint slides, lectures, and examples of assignments.
Introduction to Philosophy
Ethics and Critical Thinking
The overall objective of the course:
A general introduction to Western Philosophy will attempt to answer questions such as:
What is the Human Condition?
Is this world real?
Can we prove God exists?
How is our mind related to our body?
What is ethically right?
What are truth and justice?
Do we have free will to do as we please?
Are we in control of our lives?
In hopes of answering these questions, students explore works from, but not limited to, Socrates, Plato, Descartes, St. Augustine, Nietzsche, James, Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and Locke. Once you look at the essence of who you are, you begin to see your true self. You begin an honest dialogue with yourself and you rediscover things that were dormant and asleep. Once you rediscover your true self, you are limitless. I love that aspect of Philosophy!! Do not look at writing papers as a chore but a chance to explore Philosophy and more importantly, explore you. That understanding spreads throughout your mind like an antidote to the passive living.
Philosophy is not about arguments, debates, or the caricature of cranky professors - not by a long shot! Philosophy is the key to unlocking the shackles that smother your curiosity, your wonderment, and your true sense of self. Philosophy is not just a subject you learn. Rather, it's a lifestyle of insatiable curiosity that will, if you let it, alter your way of being in the world.
Major Learning Outcomes
A general introduction to Western Philosophy that will ask and attempt to answer questions such as: What is the Human Condition? Is this world real? Can we prove God exists? How is our mind related to our body? What is ethically right? What are truth and justice? Do we have free will to do as we please? Are we in control of our lives? In attempts to answer these questions, students will explore works from, but not limited to, Socrates, Plato, Descartes, St. Augustine, Nietzsche, James, Aristotle, Schopenhauer, and Locke.
Philosophy is not about arguments, debates, and the caricature of cranky professors - not by a long shot! Philosophy is the key to unlocking the shackles that smother your curiosity, your wonderment, and your sense of self. Philosophy is not just a subject you learn. Rather, it's a lifestyle of wonderful, insatiable curiosity that will, if you let it, alter your way of being in the world.
Upon completion of this course, the student can:
Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the key thinkers and differing theoretical constructs of the Western philosophical tradition.
Evaluate and understand the varying forms of knowledge and different views of reality and meaning of Western philosophy.
Demonstrate an understanding of the basic areas of philosophy: metaphysics (materialism, idealism, dualism), epistemology (empiricism, rationalism), ethics (virtue, deontology, utilitarianism), logic, aesthetics, and the philosophy of religion (inclusive of theism and atheistic challenges).
A Little History of Philosophy
By Nigel Warburton, Yale University Press
Textbook chapters and/or handouts require no more than 60-90 minutes of reading time per week. Students are highly encouraged to dig deeper into the material with the provided resources. In addition to these reading requirements, students will spend one to two hours a week completing assignments.
The 16-week course moves at a slower pace usually spending several weeks on one module whereas the 8-week course covers one module in its entirety per week.
Module One: Metaphysics: Lecture: Origins of Western Philosophy, Handout: Theory of Forms, Handout: Speculative Logic, Handout: Descartes, Second Meditation
Assignments: Theory of Forms & John Locke Personal Identity
Students have quite a few handouts, lectures, and textbook chapters at their disposal to help them digest the information. The assignments change from term to term, however, one example of an assignment involved the student surveying how they obtain knowledge and how does that relate to Plato's Theory of Forms.
Sample Assignment Question for the week:
1) After reading Plato's analogy Theory of Forms, mentally analyze how perception and bias taint ideas and concepts and compare that to his simile of the sun example. Then, using one of the following ideas, create a table showing how an object exists in our tainted mind vs how it exists in reality, attach a paragraph summary of your table. Islam/Christianity, science, religious texts, marriage, soldiers, nurses, abortion, or hijabs. (an example of this table is in the module guide)
2) In the subject box to this response, I want you to put the name of the Pre-Socratic Philosopher you most identified with, and then tell us why you identify with this philosopher, what can we learn from him, and what insight did he add to humanity, if any. (Lecture: Origins of Western Philosophy)
Here's a small excerpt from the Lecture:
Let's pause on that word, 'release'. What are the prisoners released from? It appears they're being released from the grips of their senses. What implications come from obtaining knowledge sans our senses?
Socrates then asked Glaucon a series of questions: What compels the prisoners to stand up? Who compels the prisoner to stand? What was life like bound vs. unbound? How is vision corrected now that he is released? Socrates speaks the heart of his argument, what is more real, the concept of the shadow or the shadow itself? Let's consider a ball.
What is a ball? Why not take a minute to draw a ball, any ball you like- soccer, football, or a basketball? How about just draw anything circular? Let's say I drew a ball too, a soccer ball to be exact. Do you think my ball, or circular object, matches yours? Most likely it did not but we both understood the concept of the 'circular ball'. The ball we drew was a concept and will remain in our minds as such. Together, we can recognize the notion of a perfect ball, even if we can't agree on what exactly a ball should look like. We know a ball must be circular in nature; perhaps it will bounce and must hold air in order to perform. Although they are not completely perfect, we can agree that the ball exists in our mind in perfect 'form'. Plato claims the 'form' of the ball is the only ball that exists and all others, yours and mine, are imperfect copies, or reflections of the ball. The 'ball' that you drew exists in the material world but its likeness exists in another realm. Its roundness exists independently of the ball and will never change, and in the realm of the Forms, its roundness will still exist if the ball is deflated or destroyed. It is the material world, perceived through the senses, where things change.
The realm of Forms is permanent and immutable.
Let's continue with the reading.
[Socrates] And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light, his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what is now called realities.
Module Two: Metaphysics: Lecture: Rationalism & Empiricism
Assignment: Reform the Mind
Along with an exercise that forces students to critically review the arguments from Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Locke, students prime the brain with a little pop quiz.
Let's see if you are a Rationalist or an Empiricist.
Answer the following True or False questions. When you are deciding if the question is True or False, take note of each of your thinking processes. For example, when you answer #1, were you leaning towards (A) or (B) when you made the final judgment call?
A) I know this to be true, even if I can't use my senses to prove it.
B) I have seen, felt, and experienced this before and trust my senses, so I know it is true.
True or False.
- Keeping coffee in your freezer keeps it fresher.
- You must drink 8 glasses of water of day to stay hydrated.
- Antiperspirant cause breast cancer.
- Being in the cold can cause a cold.
- The chair you sit on is real.
- Cracking joints causes arthritis.
- George Washington had wooden teeth.
- Vaccines cause autism.
- Humans only use 10% of their brain power.
- All dogs bark.
- Car headrests were designed to break car windows.
- Putting your PIN in the ATM in reverse will alert the police.
Now depending on your answers, if you answered more with (A) you could be a Rationalist, likewise if you answered more with (B) you could be an Empiricist. So, which one were you? A Rationalism or Empiricist?
Module Three: Religion
Module three is by far the hardest module for most of my students. This module questions the very foundations of belief, for the believer and nonbeliever alike.
Assignments range from discussing the Cosmological Argument, Fideism, the Logical Argument of Evil, and the mother of all questions... Does God exist?
Module Four: Ethics
Students will critically examine the origins of Ethical Philosophy. Compare and Contrast the ideas of Consequentialism, Deontology, and Aristotle's Virtuous Mean. Then, students continue their critical examination on how horror can be a medium for moral ethics. The lectures get dicey when they compare different horror genres ranging from the supernatural to banned movies in hopes of exploring different moral theories. Ultimately, students will discuss the ideas of Human Condition.
The assignment in the Ethics module contains images and ideas that include sexual assault and torture. Being these are sensitive topics, students may elect to complete another assignment as an alternative. Students have their choice:
A) After reading Philosophy of Horror and Movies Lecture Section 2, according to your own beliefs, summarize how horror movies reflect a societies moral ideas on crime vs punishment, and how do horror movies reflect an unspoken moral code within society, according to its particular era?
B) After watching "America Revealed: Food Machine", evaluate which theory from last week's lecture allows unethical practices to continue by illustrating which actions, as a society, we allow continuing for the sake of the whole. Then, explain if you agree or disagree with this collective practice, and if you disagree, describe how you would overcome these obstacles.