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HUM 1023 Philosophy of Human Nature


Course Description

This course traces the human pursuit of self-knowledge from ancient Greece to the present. This course also explores such fundamental philosophical questions as: How can we think clearly without prejudice; is life intrinsically valuable; can science explain everything; and why do we exist.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students should be able to

  • Explore the history of philosophy
  • Compare and contrast key philosophies including Plato, transcendentalism, utopianism, and existentialism
  • Explore one’s own self-understanding, meaning and orientation in life

Week 1


Lecture: Course Introduction

Outcomes

  • Outline the basic content of the course
  • List the objectives of the course
  • Outline the basic work of the course
Lecture: What is Philosophy?

Outcomes

  • Distinguish philia (love) from agápe, éros, and storge
  • Distinguish sophia (wisdom) from episteme (knowledge), gnosis (knowledge), and doxa (belief)
  • Distinguish four types of definition: analytic, dictionary, stipulative, and ostensive
  • Distinguish doing philosophy from studying philosophy

Week 2


Lecture: The History of Philosophy

Outcomes

  • Recognize the basic distinguishing characteristics of five historical periods in Western philosophy
  • Identify some of the more famous thinkers associated with each period
  • Discuss the value of studying philosophy historically
  • Develop a sense of the historical depth of the quest for wisdom
Lecture: The Five Branches of Philosophy

Outcomes

  • Identify the basic distinguishing characteristics of the first four major branches of Western philosophy (We discuss logic in the next module)
  • Recognize some of the more common questions associated with each branch
  • Explain the value of studying philosophy according to its branches
  • Develop another way of thinking about how to engage systematically in our quest for wisdom
Lecture: A Little Logic

Outcomes

  • Define the basic elements of logic
  • List the names for some common fallacies
  • Use a simple technique for thinking logically about a philosophical passage
  • Determine the role that logic plays in the quest for wisdom

Week 3


Lecture: Plato 1: Socrates, Plato, and the Apology

Outcomes

  • Identify some basic biographical and philosophical facts about Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
  • Contrast some of the fundamental differences between Plato’s and Aristotle’s views
  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of the Apology
  • Identify and examine critically some of Socrates' arguments in the Apology
  • Demonstrate why this dialogue is important to us in our quest for wisdom
Lecture: Plato 2: Crito and Phaedo

Outcomes

  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of Crito and Phaedo
  • Identify and examine critically some of Socrates’ arguments in each dialogue
  • Provide an opportunity for us to compare our views to Socrates’ views about some of the most basic philosophical issues
  • Demonstrate why these dialogues are important to us in our quest for wisdom

Week 4


Lecture: Thoreau 1: His Life, Transcendentalism, and Synopsis of Walden

Outcomes

  • Acquire some background knowledge on Henry David Thoreau
  • Explain the fundamental tenets of Transcendentalism
  • Discuss how Transcendentalism proposes that we engage in the quest for wisdom
  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of Walden
Lecture: Thoreau 2: Focal Points in Walden

Outcomes

  • Examine critically Thoreau’s notions of philosophical economy, freedom and simplicity, solitude, nature as intrinsically and metaphorically valuable, and the value of self-exploration
  • Decide how Thoreau’s views help us in our own quest for wisdom

Week 5


Lecture: Huxley 1: His Life, Utopia, and Synopsis of Brave New World

Outcomes

  • Acquire some background knowledge on Aldous Huxley
  • Identify the fundamental tenets of utopianism
  • Discuss how Huxley considers utopianism antithetical to the quest for wisdom
  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of Brave New World
Lecture: Huxley 2: Focal Points in Brave New World

Outcomes

  • Examine critically Huxley’s attack on utopia and his support of individual autonomy
  • Discuss how Huxley’s views help us in our own quest for wisdom

Week 6


Lecture: Pieper 1: His Life, The Work Ethic, and Leisure - The Basis of Culture

Outcomes

  • Acquire some background knowledge on Josef Pieper
  • Explain the fundamental tenets of the work ethic as Pieper attacks it
  • Explain why Pieper considers the work ethic to be antithetical to the quest for wisdom
  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of Leisure - The Basis of Culture
Lecture Pieper 2: Focal Points in Leisure - The Basis of Culture

Outcomes

  • Analyze critically Pieper’s comments about culture and cultus, leisure and education, intellectus and ratio, the liberal arts and the useful arts, and leisure and celebration
  • Discuss how Pieper’s views help us in our own quest for wisdom

Week 7


Lecture: Frankl 1: His Life, Existentialism, and Man's Search for Meaning

Outcomes

  • Acquire some background knowledge on Viktor Frankl
  • Identify the fundamental tenets of existentialism as Frankl promotes it
  • Discuss why Frankl considers existentialism to be valuable to the quest for wisdom
  • Summarize the content, structure, and purpose of Man’s Search for Meaning
Lecture: Frankl 2: Focal Points in Man's Search for Meaning

Outcomes

  • Examine critically Frankl’s comments about spiritual freedom; will to meaning; existential challenges; the meaning of life, love, and suffering; metaclinical problems; and logotherapy as technique
  • Discuss how Frankl’s view helps us in our own quest for wisdom

Week 8


Lecture: Course Conclusion

Outcomes

  • Articulate an overview of the course
  • Identify the major scholars, themes, and terms of the study
  • Provide a checklist that permits review of the scholars, themes, and terms that we don’t recall well or at all
  • Determine the depth and breadth of the study and, by extension, the quest for wisdom itself

The course description, objectives and learning outcomes are subject to change without notice based on enhancements made to the course. November 2011