PHIL 1 – Summer 2021 – 30096 – BCC Online

Instructor: Eric Gerlach:

Office Hours: Gmail me to join the optional group discussion Zoom meeting Monday mornings at 11am, or to Zoom with me weekday mornings.  There are no meetings required, but feel free to meet with me as you need to.

This course introduces Egyptian, Indian, Greek, Chinese, Islamic and modern European philosophy.  Students can read the lectures, readings and complete the three essay assignments at their own pace.  This is a quick course that only lasts a few weeks, so try to work through half of the material and assignments, the first two essays and up until Islamic thought in the first three weeks of the class.

Your grade is based on two 4 page essays and an 8 page essay (25% + 25% + 50% = 100%).  Rather than worry about how many paragraphs, or quotes, or what size font or spacing to use, write and rewrite your argument and words until you feel it fits with what you think and it will fill the space well.

All three essay assignments are due by Midnight, Sunday, July 25th.

Readings for each lecture are posted at the top of each set of lecture notes.  If there are no readings posted, there are none for that lecture.  Here is the playlist for the class, on my YouTube channel.  If it is too much for you, please work slowly through much of the material, and focus on what you think.

Lecture Notes, With Readings & Videos:

Egypt: Hardjedef & Ptahhotep

Babylon: Pessimism & Theodicy

India: Hinduism, the Jains and Buddhism

Greece: Heraclitus, Socrates & Plato

China: Confucianism and Daoism

Islam: Al Farabi, Avicenna & Averroes

Pre-Modern Europe: Ockham & Descartes

Britain: Hume, Locke & Berkeley

Germany: Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein

France: Sartre, Foucault, & Baudrillard

3 Essay Assignments

To pass the class you must write three pieces, two 4 page essays and an 8 page essay (25% + 25% + 50% of your final grade) typed and emailed to to me ( by the end of the semester.  Focus on a single idea or issue we cover, clearly state your position and use evidence and reasoning to support your position while thinking about what others would say in response.  You can use examples from your life, culture, history, or fiction.  Write about whatever means the most to you, but you can also follow the prompts for each assignment if you have trouble thinking of something you want to say.

All three essay assignments are due by the end of the course, Midnight, Sunday, July 25th. 

I am happy to look over drafts, and pace yourself to rewrite your writing and do quality work.

For the first 4 page essay, pick an idea we have studied with Shamanism, ancient Egyptian, Babylonian, or Indian thought, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to the larger question about culture and time:  Does human perspective evolve and change, or is it largely the same as in the past?

For the second 4 page essay, pick an idea we have studied with ancient Greek or Chinese thought, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to the larger question about relative and absolute truth:  Is there true objective knowledge, or is everything relative perspective?

For the third and final 8 page essay, pick an idea we have studied with Islamic & European thought, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to larger questions about culture, time, knowledge and perspective of the previous assignments.

This class is acceptable for credit at UC and CSU. It counts towards GE AA/AS area 3; CSU area C2; and IGETC area 3. It can be used as an elective for the Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Arts and Humanities, Associate in Arts Degree Program and the Liberal Arts: Intersegmental General Education Transfer (IGETC) Certificate of Achievement and the Global Studies AA Degree.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of major philosophers.

2. Analyze and evaluate philosophical positions through argument that displays individual perspective.

General Student Requirements: Students are expected to come to class prepared to ask questions and participate in discussions. All readings and assignments should be completed by the beginning of class on the day they are listed here. This class is run as a lecture/discussion course.  Students are responsible for all class material (even if they miss class). If you miss class, it is strongly advised that you ask a classmate for notes. It is your responsibility to ask if you missed something; it is not the instructor’s responsibility to remind you. Please read through the syllabus and plan ahead.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarists, intentional or inadvertent, will receive a zero on the assignment in question; repeat offenders will get an F for the course and will be subject to college disciplinary action. Students are encouraged to review plagiarism policies in the current Vista College catalog.

Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) are provided for any enrolled student who has a verified disability that creates an educational limitation that prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes without additional support services or instruction. Please let the instructor know if you require any support services or would like more information about DSPS.

This syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class. Additional handouts of required readings may also be added.