Dr. Jim Ford                                                                                 Introduction to Philosophy

jford@rsu.edu                                                                               PHLO-1113  

Office: Baird Hall 202A                                                                 Spring 2004  

Office Phone: (918) 343-7749                                                      TTh 9:30-10:45 am

Office Hours: 9:30-noon MW;                                                      Classroom: Baird Hall 202

12:30-2 pm TTh; 1-2 pm W; 10-11 F.                                          No prerequisites.







“I go back from age to age, up to the remotest antiquity, but I find no parallel for what is occurring before my eyes; as the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.”          
-Alexis de Tocqueville




A historical introduction to philosophy, mainly Western, but including world traditions, which examines the thought of major philosophers and explores the traditional questions of philosophy about the nature of reality, knowledge, values, and humanity. Humanities elective.





We will read and discuss philosophical classics in order to explore enduring philosophical issues, particularly the question “Why philosophize?”

            By the end of the course, you will have a thorough understanding of the major ideas of some of the most important Western philosophers. More importantly, however, you will be in a much better position to understand who you are, what you believe, and why—if you take advantage of the opportunity.





Mann & Dann, Philosophy: A New Introduction. Thomson-Wadsworth, 2005. 0-534-60057-3.

The book is available at the RSU Bookstore in Claremore. Please have it before the course begins.





1. The Summum Bonum- What is the highest good for human life?

2. Human Nature- What does it mean to be human?

3. Ethics- What should I do? What should I not do?

4. Faith- What can I hope? What should I believe?

5. Identity- Who am I?





This course will emphasize discussion and writing. I will regularly suggest questions pertaining to the material we will be discussing in the following class. Students should come to class prepared to address these questions. Always bring to class the book we are discussing.


There will be three three-page critical essays (approximately 1000 words each), a group presentation, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Each paper will be 10% of your grade; the group presentation 15%; the midterm exam 15%; class participation 20%; and the final exam 20%.


All essays must be typed and double-spaced, with margins of 1.25 inches. Unexcused late work will be penalized 10% per day. All essays are due at the beginning of the class period. In general, each essay is due the first class period after we finish discussing the work or philosopher in question (see below). Further details on the nature of these essays, as well as of the midterm and final exams, will be given in class.


This may seem like a great deal of writing, particularly for an introductory course. The readings, while generally short, are often challenging. Understand, though, that philosophy is something that you as the student must engage in, an activity to be embraced rather than a list of facts to be digested. This requires a good deal of work on your part, but it is well worth it.


GRADING SCALE                  90-100 A              

                                                   80-89 B 

                                                   70-79 C 

                                                   60-69 D




As discussion is a major portion of your grade (20%) as well as the heart of this class, your attendance is required. More than two absences will adversely affect your grade; five or more absences are grounds for failure of the course as a whole.




Every student will be assigned to a group of 2-3 students later in the semester. During the last five weeks of the semester, each day one group will make their presentation. Basically, those students lead class for that day. Each group should begin by making a 7-10 minute presentation, and  will then lead the class in discussion the rest of the period. This presentation is 20% of your grade. Every member of the group must be in class the day of the presentation. Further information on  these presentations will be given in class.


“And on the other hand, if I say that this even happens to be a very great good for a human being—to make speeches every day about virtue and the other things about which you hear me conversing and examining both myself and others—and that the unexamined life is not worth living for a human being, you will be persuaded by me still less when I say these things. This is the way it is, as I affirm, men; but to persuade you is not easy.”                                            -Socrates, in Plato’s Apology


Other Details




Students are expected to follow university policies as put forth in the institution’s Student Code of Responsibilities and Conduct. In accordance with Title 12 of The Student Code (page 11), instances of alleged academic misconduct will follow the policies and procedures as described in Title 12. As a general rule, Faculty at Rogers State University have the responsibility of enforcing the academic code. Therefore, if academic misconduct is suspected I will submit a letter of alleged academic misconduct to the Office of Student Affairs.


            Note especially RSU’s official plagiarism statement: “Plagiarism is representing someone else’s ideas or work as your own ideas or work. To avoid plagiarism when using someone else’s data, arguments, designs, words, ideas, projects, etc., you must make it clear that the work originated with someone else by citing the source.” Deliberate plagiarism and/or other forms of cheating are grounds for failure in the course as a whole.





In order to maintain an effective learning environment, students are expected to fully comply with The Student Code. Disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. It is the responsibility of each student to read and become familiar with the policies of The Student Code.





Rogers State University is committed to providing students with disabilities equal access to educational programs and services.  Before any educational accommodation can be provided, any student who has a disability that he or she believes will require some form of accommodation must do the following:  1) inform the professor of each class of such need; and 2) register for services to determine eligibility for assistance with the Office of Student Affairs, located in the Student Union.




My office hours are listed above. Please feel free to come by, call, etc., during those hours. If that doesn’t work, I would be happy to schedule an appointment at another time. Communication by email is especially welcome (moderation in this, as in all things...).


Finally, realize that it is not unusual for a course like this one to raise challenges to and doubts about some of our most cherished beliefs. It is important that each of us is sensitive to the views of those around us. At the same time, each of us should also be aware that controversial issues, arguments, and positions will be discussed in this course. If something bothers or offends you, let me know and I will do what I can.


Course Schedule


Jan 11  T          Introduction

Jan 13  Th        Plato, Apology, (p. 50-59)


Jan 18  T          Apology, cont. (p. 59-67)

Jan 20  Th        Plato, Republic I, (p. 67-88)               


Jan 25  T          Republic II and III, (p. 88-106)

Jan 27  Th        Aristotle (p. 106-21)


Feb 1   T          Philosophy of Religion I (p.125-57)                  First Essay Due (The Greek Philosophers)

Feb 3   Th        Philosophy of Religion II (p.158-90)


Feb 8   T          The Mind/Body Problem I (p. 193-220)

Feb 10 Th        The Mind/Body Problem II (p. 220-238)


Feb 15 T          The Self I (p. 239-266)

Feb 17 Th        The Self II (p. 266-293)


Feb 22 T          Knowing Our World I (p. 299-319)                 Second Essay Due (Identity)

Feb 24 Th        Knowing Our World II (TBA)


Mar 1   T          Ethics I (p. 394-419)

Mar 3   Th        Ethics II (p. 419-426)


Mar 8   T          Midterm Review

Mar 10 Th        Midterm Exam


Mar 15,17        NO CLASS—SPRING BREAK


Mar 22 T          Ethics III (p. 426-443)                                    

Mar 24 Th        Ethics IV (p. 443-459)                         Third Essay Due


Mar 29 T          * Political Theory I

Mar 31 Th        * Political Theory II

Apr 5   T          * Political Theory III

Apr 7   Th        * Feminist Theory I

Apr 12 T          * Feminist Theory II                

Apr 14 Th        * Aesthetics I

Apr 19 T          * Aesthetics II

Apr 21 Th        * Philosophy of Culture I

Apr 26 T          * Philosophy of Culture II

Apr 28 Th        Conclusion


May 2-6           FINAL EXAM

                        Exact day and time to be announced.

* Group presentations—reading selections to be determined