Schedules Textbooks Course Description Course Rationale
Student Objectives Grades-How & Why Course Values Assignments


Introduction to Philosophy
Spring, 1999
With Colby Glass, MLIS

  • Schedules

    Course Meetings:
    This course meets Thursday evenings from 6:30 until 9:30. We normally meet in computer room OZU 119.

    Office Hours:
    My office is located in the new Ozuna LRC building, room 201b. My office phone number is 210/921-5069. My office hours are Mondays and Wednesdays 1:00 to 5:00. If you need to see me at another time, please call for an appointment.

  • Textbooks

    Required textbook:

    Roots of Wisdom, by Helen Buss Mitchell.

    In addition to the textbook (Mitchell), we shall also read a variety of book excerpts, articles, and materials on the Internet. All readings not in the textbook or on the Internet will be available in the library, on reserve at the circulation desk. Feel free to use them in the library, or make copies and take home.

  • Course Description

    Catalog Description of This Course:

    "A study of fundamental questions of human existence from theoretically diverse perspectives. Topics may include the nature of reality, truth, morality, freedom, God, and social and political theory."

  • Course Rationale

    Catalog Description of This Course:

    The purpose of this course is "to teach students how to think well, to introduce them to the significance and pervasiveness of values, and to give them the opportunity to study some of the great texts created by the human mind. The development of critical and analytical thinking skills will prepare students for success in almost any field, but especially in industry, business, government, or entrance into graduate programs in law, business, computer science, theology, and philosophy" (UTSA Application to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for BA in Philosophy).

  • Student Objectives

    At the end of the semester, you (the student) will...
    1. understand what makes something a philosophical question, issue, or conversation;
    2. be familiar with the history of philosophy, the great philosophers and the issues with which they were concerned;
    3. be able to question, analyze and evaluate philosophical ideas and positions in an educated manner;
    4. be able to differentiate between deductive and inductive reasoning;
    5. know those factors which differentiate critical thinking;
    6. be able to identify the common fallacies in others' arguments and lines of reasoning.

  • Student Grades--How Your Work is Evaluated

    Your work will be evaluated, and a grade assigned for the semester, based on the following elements:

    (Click on each item for explanation of the work expected)
    Weekly quizzes on reading assignments & lectures 40%
    Group project, presentation of research 15%
    Group decision-making activities reported to listserv 10%
    Two oral group debates 15%
    Class participation (speaking up, involvement w/ group) 10%
    Final comprehensive exam 10%

  • Course Values

    Progress--success--in this course will require a grasp--and practice--of the basic values of the field of philosophy. They are:

    COURAGE-- Do you dare to question ideas you have always believed? Do you dare to venture into ways of thinking you have never done before?

    CLARITY -- Can you express ideas, whether your own or someone else's, in a clear and simple way? Do you choose words, construct sentences and paragraphs in ways that convey your meaning easily?

    ACCURACY -- Are you willing to work at correctly understanding what someone else is saying and their reasons for saying it? Are you willing to demand of others that they give viable reasons for their statements?

    CONSISTENCY -- Do your ideas hang together? Do you realize when you are contradicting yourself? Are you able to find your way out of such a contradiction?

    CREATIVITY -- Do you express the ideas of others in your own words? Do you go beyond the ideas of others to those of your own? Do you make a connection you have never made before?

    DEPTH -- Do you dive beneath the surface of initial questions and ideas to find the assumptions and further questions underneath? Do you refuse to settle for the first answer that comes along? Do you ask why?

    INTEGRITY--The writing and speaking you do in this class must be your own. Do not copy what you write directly from the textbook, another book, or another person unless you give them proper credit. If caught plagiarizing, you will receive an F for the course. In this and every class you take, you are being asked to learn to WRITE AND SPEAK YOUR OWN MIND. The most worthwhile thing you gain from this class should be a deeper understanding of yourself--who you are, and the values you consider important--and a greater appreciation of your own significance as an individual. Do not cheat yourself of this experience by taking shortcuts.

  • Course Assignments

    Course assignments are detailed by week in the Web- enhanced Course section of the homepage. Please go there to track what needs to be done. Be sure to look at the questions; they will give you good guidance in preparing for the weekly quizzes.

    Weekly quizzes on reading assignments & lectures

    Worth 40% of your grade because reading and listening in class are critical to even a basic grasp of what the course is about. You should read each assigned chapter in the textbook well ahead of class. Ask any questions you have before the quiz. In reading, look for the key ideas. One clue will be the questions listed in that week's assignment. If you know the answers to the week's questions you should do very well on the quizzes.

    Group project & presentation

    Worth 15% of your final grade, this project is the application of a major component of philosophical and critical thinking, viz., to question ideas and assumptions. To this end you will choose a dissenter, a moment of dissent, or a common assumption from a list of choices.

    Hopefully, you will find one to three other classmates who are also interested in your chosen topic. You will research the topic, as discussed in the page on DEBUNKING and DISSENT, and will then give a presentation in class. The purpose of the presentation is to enlighten the rest of us about our mistaken ideas. The presentation, therefore, should be convincing, as well as carefully documented.

    Group decision-making activities reported to listserv

    Worth 10% of your final grade, groups will be assigned questions/issues to consider. You will be expected to work actively with your group to come to conclusions and then enter them in the listserv. You may also be asked to comment on others' entries in the listserv.

    Two oral group debates

    Worth 15% of your final grade, this project is the application of a major component of philosophical and critical thinking, viz., to explore both sides of an issue--particularly the less popular side. You are expected to work actively with your group to prepare for the debate and participate in the debate in class.

    Class participation

    Worth 10% of your final grade, participation means showing up for class, speaking up and getting involved in the philosophical issues discussed, and actively working with your groups (project, debate, etc.).

    by Colby Glass, MLIS.

    If you have comments, please send me a note. Thanks!

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