Syllabus & Schedule

PHIL 20B – SPRING 2022 – 20193 – Thur 11am – 12:15pm – BCC 54

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.

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 by due dates listed.  Email all assignments and essays to me at

Office Hours: Please email me to set up a meeting, online or in person.

Lectures: We will work through the material as we go, covering the topics in the order of these links to the lecture notes and videos.  Please watch the video lectures in the playlist above as well.  If you are confused where we are in the class, or what material we are reading, please email me.

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 & Postmodernism: A) Foucault B) Baudrillard

Assignments: Four essays for the class (100% of your grade), the first 1 page (10%), the second 2 pages (15%), the third 4 pages (25%), and the fourth 8 pages (50%), typed, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, 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.

1st Essay – Due By February/September 1st: For the first, single-page essay, I want you to try to focus your own philosophical beliefs about how truth and the mind work into the space as simply as possible.  I want you to express your ideas so you can see what does and doesn’t change as we go.

2nd Essay – Due By March/October 1st: For the second, 2-page essay, I want you to consider the philosophical debates from early modern Europe that pitted Rationalism against Empiricism and others, focusing on one core thinker and idea.  Present the argument for the point, and yours for or against it.  What do you argue, and why?

3rd Essay – Due By April/November 1st: For the third, 4-page essay, I want you to select a philosopher who you think displays a particular insight or idea of the Idealists and Phenomenologists, presenting the argument of the thinker as best you can, and your argument for or against the position.

4th Essay – Due By May/December 1st: For the final 8 page essay for the class, I want you to take an idea from the existentialists, post-Structuralists and Post-Modernists we studied, presenting the argument of the thinker as best you can and your argument for or against it.

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.

Here is a video with my thoughts on how to write a philosophy essay.

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:  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.