Syllabus & Schedule

PHIL 20B – SPRING 2021 – 20216 – ONLINE – Berkeley City College

Instructor: Eric Gerlach –

Course Description: Introduction to the basic ideas of Spanish, French, British, German & European philosophy in the history of human thought and our world.

There will be an intro video, and more lecture videos very soon.

Course Material: A) Bookmark this page, B) watch the videos in the playlist above as you C) read and follow along with the lecture links below, D) read the online, free readings assigned at the top of each lecture page, if there are any (No textbook or reader required!) and, most importantly if you want a grade, E) complete the assignments at your own pace.  Otherwise, you will get an F, which isn’t so golden.  I will get videos of each lecture up as soon as possible, so please be patient.  Email all assignments and essays to me at by midnight on the final day of the semester.  Here is a link to the BCC Academic Calendar for the dates.

Optional Group Meetings: There are no required meetings, but I am here to meet with you and the group each week Tuesday mornings 11 to noon, or to talk individually by appointment.

Introduction: The East, Middle-East & West & The Analytic & Continental Schools

Rationalism: 1) Descartes 2) Spinoza & 3) Leibniz

Empiricism: A) Locke B) Hume  & C) Berkeley

Idealism: A) Kant & B) Hegel

Pessimism: A) Schopenhauer & B) Kierkegaard

Passion: A) Nietzsche & Bataille

Existentialism: A) Heidegger & B) Sartre

Positivism: Russell & Analytic Philosophy

Pragmatism, Neo-Pragmatism & Wittgenstein

Modern Art: A) Dada, B) Surrealism & C) Conceptual Art

Poststructuralism: A) Foucault &

Postmodernism: A) Baudrillard

Assignments: Two 4 page essays (2 x 25%) & a final 8 page paper (50%), typed, double-spaced and emailed to  Focus on an idea we cover, clearly state and argue for your position with evidence, empathy, and examples from your life, history or fiction.

To stay on pace and give yourself time, try to complete at least one essay assignment each month.  For the Spring, try to do the first essay by March, the second by April, and start the longer third essay by May.  For the Fall, do the first essay by October, the second by November, and start the longer third essay by December.  Email me with any questions about the material or your thoughts.

1st Essay: For the first 4 page essay for the class, I want you to consider the philosophical debates from early modern Europe that pitted Rationalism against Empiricism and others.  What do you find yourself agreeing with more, and why?  Are the two exclusive or complementary, and how?

2nd Essay: For the second 4 page essay, I want you to select a philosopher who you think displays a particular insight or idea, and then reflect on what it means when applied to your own life and/or the current state of the world.

3rd Essay: For the final 8 page paper for the class, I want you to take an idea from the final three lectures and apply it to your life and/or the world, as you did for the second assignment.  What appeals to you or not about the idea, and how or why is it useful?

Here is a video with my thoughts on how to write a philosophy essay, if you are being graded by someone like me.  Trust me on this.  I know the guy.

Grading Rubric: 100 – This is outstanding work, 90 – This is good work that shows you put thought and time in, but more, 80 – This is on the right path, but clearly needs a bit more, 70 – This is somewhat wrong and off, and 0 – 60 – You are clearly phoning it in before the telegraph.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Upon completion of this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of major philosophers.
  2. Analyze & 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.  Attendance is mandatory. If you miss more than five classes, you will receive an F in the course. (Note: I do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences; if you miss more than five classes, for any reason, you cannot pass the class.)

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.