Course Syllabus for World of Ideas
Course Text: Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. Gary E. Kessler (2010).
COURSE DESCRIPTION: General consideration of human nature and the nature of the universe: Knowledge, perception, freedom and determinism. Prerequisites: None.
Course Objectives: At the end of each unit, students will be able to:
Unit I: Who am I?
- Explain what at least three scientists and/or behaviorists have concluded about the defining characteristics of human beings.
- Explain what defines a human being from four different cultural-philosophical approaches, and compare and contrast these viewpoints.
- Articulate definitions of a human being from both an Eastern and a Western perspective and explain what the fundamental difference is between these two perspectives.
- Explain their own definitions of a human being and describe how they are different from or similar to those of the scientific community, the philosophical approaches, and the religious perspectives.
Unit II: How did the reality begin and how does it exist?
- Evaluate the ways in which science explains the origins and workings of existence.
- Explain how various religious perspectives account for the world and existence and evaluate those accounts in relation to their own experience and in relation to science.
- Explain how various philosophies have attempted to address the issue of human consciousness.
- Describe the various views of existential thinkers and determine whether or not the focus on existence helps to address the question of “reality.”
Unit III: What do I know? How do I know what is real?
- Explain the different knowledge perspective of rationalists, empiricist, and contemporary analytic philosophers.
- Describe the foundations of the prophetic religious tradition’s conception of truth and knowledge.
- List and describe various world mystical conceptions of knowledge and explain how mystical traditions compare to “absolute” notions of truth and knowledge.
- Describe the origins of knowledge as they come to exist in societies with oral traditions. Compare notions of knowledge from Western societies to those societies with oral traditions.
- Describe their own views on the origins and validity of “knowledge” and compare them to the perspectives studied in this unit.
Unit IV: what should I be doing?
- Describe at least 5 different religious approaches to the determination of ethical behavior. What does each religion say about “proper” human conduct, and why might these religious perspectives be different?
- Explain how certain atheists determine what ethical behavior is.
- Explain what makes an ethical viewpoint a “humanist” one and explain how it can be different from an atheist perspective on ethics.
- List and describe various “collective” ethical viewpoints and explain the ways in which “collective” ethical viewpoints different from individualistic ones. Are they different in their origins or in their practice? Or both?
- Describe the ethical perspectives that seem most appropriate to them in today’s 21st Century world, and explain why they think some ethical codes are appropriate while others might be less so.
Unit V: What is beyond me? What is beyond the world as I know it?
- Describe three future scenarios for Earth and humanity from the point of view of natural scientists. Will global warming be a factor? Nuclear or other mass destruction? Successful colonization of other planets?
- Explain the “future” scenarios of at least two social scientists. How will our Earth allegedly become “hot, flat, and crowded”? Will demands of a technology environment require expertise that will leave millions unemployed and hungry?
- Explain what both Eastern and Western religions claim about “the transcendent.” Is there a reality beyond our planetary existence? Compare and contrast Eastern and Western religious traditions.
- Describe and compare the views of those thinkers who claim the questions of a “beyond,” or of any future evolution of natural events are unanswerable or irrelevant.
- Explain their views regarding the future of humanity and Earthly existence. Describe how their ideas compare with those of the philosophers/scientists studied in this unit and course.
- To introduce you to a variety of philosophical views, issues, and arguments. To understand what philosophy is and the way in which it is relevant to current issues.
- To develop critical thinking and analytical skills. It is important to understand the difference between good and bad arguments and to have the ability to critically and carefully analyze the arguments of others.
- This class will not teach a set of "correct" view; however, it will assume rationality (evidence, consistency and having plausible reasons for one's argument) and free will. It is important to carefully consider and examine the arguments with intellectual honesty and reconcile them with your views.
- There are many answers that have been given to the major philosophical questions, and every such answer is not equally as plausible as every other. Your goal is to seek the most plausible argument.
- Test (includes essays, projects): 50%
- Participation (quiz, bell ringer, class work, presentation): 35%
- Homework: 15%; submit on Thursday/Friday when we have class
- See the “Make-up” folder for make-up work.
- Missed Tests/Quizzes must be made up during the first 3 days of your return. If your test/quiz is not made up within a 3 day period, you lose the opportunity to make up the test, resulting in a zero. I will take into account special circumstances on a case by case basis. Absence during any time of the presentation of a particular unit of study does not entitle a student to an exemption from a quiz or test if the student is in school on the day it is given. Quizzes & tests are always announced in advance, so there is no excuse for not knowing about them.
A/B Days: Even if you come back to school after absence on the day you do not have this class (you have class on an A day, you come back on a B day), please stop by to find out what you missed or owe. This will keep you from falling too far behind.
Long-term due dates: Missing days in between long term assignments do not change your due date.
Planned absences: If you miss class for a school related activity you are expected to make up any tests or quizzesprior to your absence. You are also expected to obtain any missed assignments or notes before the next class.
Grading Late Work: You may NOT turn in late work. I will consider special circumstances pertaining to big assignments.
1. Pen and Pencils
2. 3-ring binder
- Notes section
- Bell Ringer Section. I usually collect on test day.
- Journal/Composition book
- Textbook readings are a MUST
- Continue to develop quality note taking skills
- Expect to read additional essays
- Be prepared to struggle at first, but improve as the year continues
- Be able to work independently as well as collaboratively, but ask for help when needed
- Have fun!!!
Note: My goal is to help you succeed. Please don’t hesitate to see me after school for help. My email address: Nicola.email@example.com
I reserve the right to change this syllabus at any point throughout the year.