Friday, August 12, 2005

Introduction to Philosophy

I am very excited about my new class for 7th and 8th graders at St. Vincent's Middle School. Below you will find the syllabus for "Introduction to Philosophy":


Mr. R. Foster / Seventh & Eighth Grade

What does it mean to say that something is “real”? How do you know when something is “good”? What is the difference between the “truth” and a “lie”? What makes one thing “beautiful” and another thing “ugly”? What sort of person ought to be considered “wise”? The ancient Greeks developed a special way of investigating important questions like these. They called this new way of thinking Philosophia—“the love of wisdom.” This course will examine the answers that great philosophers have offered for these big questions during the last 2500 years, and in the process we will learn how they thought.

The basic textbook for the course will be Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy (New York: Berkeley Books, 1994). We will also carefully examine short selections from the writings of the most important philosophers in Western history. During the school year we will read approximately two-thirds of Gaarder’s novel, which will introduce students to the thought of important philosophers from the pre-Socratic Greeks (500 B.C) down to the Enlightenment (1700’s A.D.).

Students will have four major exams in the course of each semester (averaged for 40% of semester grade). A short research paper will also be written (on ancient Athens in the Fall and Renaissance Italy in the Spring) comprising 20% of semester grade. Weekly homework assignments and several short quizzes will also be given (together they make up 15% of the semester grade). Class participation (15% of the grade) is an important component of the course as well.

Fall Semester

Week (page #s from Gaarder)

1 Introduction (pp. 1-20)

2 Myths & Nature (pp. 21-40)

3 Democritus & Fate (pp. 41-55)

4 First exam

5 Socrates (pp. 56-71)

6 Athens (pp. 72-77) & Paper Due

7 Plato (pp. 78-93)

8 Plato continued

9 Second exam

10 Plato continued

11 Plato continued

12 Plato & Major’s Cabin (pp. 94-103)

13 Third exam & Aristotle (pp. 104-120)

14 Aristotle continued

15 Aristotle continued

16 Final Exam

Spring Semester

1 Hellenism (pp. 121-139)

2 Postcards/Two Cultures (140-164)

3 The Middle Ages (pp. 165-187)

4 The Middle Ages (Augustine/Aquinas)

5 First exam

6 The Renaissance (pp. 188-215)

7 The Renaissance cont’d & Paper Due

8 The Renaissance continued

9 Second ex. & Baroque (pp. 216-232)

10 The Baroque continued

11 Descartes (pp. 233-246)

12 Spinoza (pp. 247-256)

13 Third exam & Locke (pp. 257-266)

14 Hume (pp. 267-281)

15 Berkeley (pp. 282-286)

16 Bjerkely (pp. 287-302)

17 The Enlightenment (pp. 303-321)

18 Final exam


At 6:31 AM, Blogger texanglican said...

The Gaarder book is quite nice. The main character is a 14 year old girl, so the Middle School kids can really relate. She receives a correspondence class in the history of philosophy. There are five or six page lessons on each major Western philosopher.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

I'm genuinely impressed and thankful for your efforts in bringing philosophy to the young. May God bless your work and bring it to a good fruition pleasing to him.


Post a Comment

<< Home