Fall 2003

Professor: Dr. Valerie E. Broin
Office: L185
Phone: 667-3527 or 667-3361
[Do NOT email assignments – messages ONLY!]
Office Hours:

Course Description:
In this introductory course, we will explore the writings of several different thinkers concerning what we take to be the “self” and the human condition. Who am I? Is there something that is essentially human that sets us apart from other beings and that all humans share? What assumptions do we have about ourselves and about what it means to be human? How simple or complex are we? How are we related to others and to society? How does being embodied affect my sense of self? Are we free or determined beings? How might our conceptions of ourselves affect our possibilities?
We will examine these questions by exploring the philosophical positions of various philosophers, such as Plato and Mencius (ancient philosophy), Descartes (modern philosophy), Marx and Kierkegaard (19th century philosophy) and Sartre and Beauvoir (20th century philosophy).

Required Texts:
Theories of Human Nature, Donald C. Abel, ed. (THN)
Visions of Human Nature, Donald Palmer (VHN)

Course Requirements:

In-Class Essay Tests: There will be three in-class essay tests, each designed the same way. Out of four or five possible essay choices, you will write two essays. One of those essays will be the professor’s choice; the other you will choose. Bring a blue book in which to write your essay.
Test #1: October 3 (Friday) 20%
Test #2: November 10 (Monday) 20%
Test #3: December 8 (Monday) 25%

Response Papers: Every Friday a one-page (typed, double-spaced) response paper is due over that week’s assigned reading and class discussions. This assignment CANNOT be turned in via email. Hard copy of the paper must be turned in to me or my department mail box (in L195) on or before Friday’s class. No late papers are accepted.
The purpose of this assignment is to give you an opportunity to respond to the ideas that we are examining in class. You do not need to agree with the thinker that we are discussing. Rather begin to think critically about the ideas and the ramifications of those ideas. You might discuss what points you do agree with (giving your reasons), what points you do not agree with (and why), what points you have questions about or do not understand, what problems you can imagine that arise from the thinkers’ positions, and/or what the ramifications are if one adopts a thinkers’ position or not. Devote your paper to one particular issue and examine it thoroughly (that is, don’t just write up a list of questions or brief comments and don’t jump around with too many different ideas. Go for depth, not breadth in your analysis). While 12 response papers are possible, only 10 are required. Should you turn in 12, I will think of the two in excess as extra credit. 25% (total)

Attendance and Participation: I will keep tabs on attendance. If your attendance is excellent, it can positively affect your grade, especially if your grade is on a borderline. If you miss between two and five classes, there is no penalty, but it will not help your grade. Missing more than six classes can lower your grade up to a full letter grade. 10%

NOTE: It is your responsibility to keep abreast of the assignments and attendance. Remember, no late weekly response papers will be accepted. Exams must be taken on time. Contact the professor on or before the date should conflicts occur. It is up to the professor to decide if a make-up can take place. If it has been approved, the make-up exam must be taken within one week of the original date or an “F” will be recorded.
There are minimal extra credit opportunities to enhance your grade. These opportunities will be discussed in class and are limited to on-campus educational events such as appropriate plays and public lectures.
This course is graded on a “plus-minus” grading scale.

Plagiarism and Cheating: In a word: DON’T. Identify all sources if you use another’s words, and do so sparingly. We will discuss how to cite sources correctly. Your written work MUST be your own or you will not get credit for the course. These are serious offenses and can result in expulsion from the university.


Week 0
9/5 Introduction

Week 1 Ancient Philosophy
9/8 Plato, “The Allegory of the Cave” (handout)
9/10 VHN pp. 21-25
9/12 THN pp. 10-15 and VHN pp. 13-21
Response paper #1 due

Week 2
9/15 continue from Friday
9/17 THN pp. 15-24 and VHN pp. 25-37
9/19 THN pp. 24-41
Response #2 due

Week 3
9/22 continue from Friday
9/24 Mencius, THN pp. 75-78
9/26 THN pp. 78-86
Response #3 due

Week 4
9/29,10/1 THN, pp. 86-92
10/3 ESSAY TEST #1
Response #4 due

Week 5 The Modern Era (The Enlightenment)
10/6 Descartes, VHN pp. 123-127
10/8 THN, First Meditation, pp. 177-179 and VHN pp. 127-133
10/10 THN, Second Meditation, pp. 179-183 and VHN pp. 133-136
Response #5 due

Week 6
10/13 No class – School Holiday!
10/15 THN pp. 183-185
10/17 VHN, pp. 136-147
Response #6 due

Week 7 19th Century Philosophy
10/20 Kierkegaard, VHN pp. 156-159
10/22 VHN pp. 160-166
10/24 VHN pp. 167-172
Response #7 due

Week 8
10/27 continue from Friday
10/29 Marx, VHN pp. 205-212
10/31 Matewan (film)
Response #8 due

Week 9
11/3 continue Matewan
11/5 THN pp. 226-230 and VHN pp. 218-230
11/7 THN pp. 230-235
Response #9 due

Week 10
11/10 ESSAY TEST #2
11/12 20th Century Philosophy
Sartre, VHN pp. 271-283
11/14 THN pp. 313-316 and VHN pp. 284-289
Response #10 due

Week 11
11/17 continue from Friday
11/19-21 THN pp. 316-322 and VHN pp. 290-292
11/21 Response #11 due

Week 12
11/24-26 THN pp. 323-328
11/28 Thanksgiving Break!
(no response paper due)

Week 13
12/1 Beauvoir, THN pp. 335-338
12/3 THN pp. 338-342
12/5 THN pp. 342-348
Response #12 due

Week 14
12/8 ESSAY TEST #3