Intro to Philosophy through Film




Tuesday, December 26th, 2006 - Thursday, January 11th, 2007 (No class January 1)

M, T, W, Th, 8:30am - 12:00pm

Murray room 210, College Avenue Campus





Instructor:  Shieva Kleinschmidt

Office Hours:  12:15pm - 1:15pm after each class meeting at Au Bon Pain,

And by appointment in my office.

Office Location:  Room 17, Davison Hall, Douglass Campus




Text:  Metaphysics (4th Edition)

by Richard Taylor



Additional readings listed below.




        This course is a three-week introduction to Analytic Philosophy, using films in addition to written texts.  We will cover a variety of topics, discussing issues in Metaphysics and Epistemology (with the last meeting on the Philosophy of Dating, if everyone has a 70% or higher in the class).  We will focus on the topics of personal identity, space and time, freedom and determinism, justification of beliefs, and skepticism.  You will also be introduced (if you haven't been already) to some basic logic, which we will use throughout the course.


        Because the winter term is so short, this class will be intensive.  We will cover a lot of material, and you will need to understand what is taught at each meeting in order to understand the ones that follow it.  Also, expect a significant amount of homework outside of class:  a whole term's homework is being packed into three weeks.


        There will be homework due and a quiz at the start of every course meeting except for the first and last ones.  Homework is worth 40% of your grade, quizzes are worth 20%.  No late homework is accepted, and quizzes cannot be retaken or taken late.  However, if you pass all homework assignments and quizzes, you may skip the final exam (otherwise worth 40% of your grade), and your grade will be the determined by your homework and quiz scores alone (thereby worth 2/3 and 1/3 of your grade, respectively).


       You can also earn up to 10% extra credit by making substantive contributions to the class discussions (1% per class meeting); this means coming to class with some questions already written out, and also contributing to discussions on topics brought up by me or your fellow students.  There may also be other opportunities for extra credit.


        Here is a tentative schedule of what we'll cover in the class.  Movies and readings should be completed prior to the meeting during which they will be discussed.  In addition to watching the movies and doing the reading, a short written assignment will be due for each class meeting (with the exception of the first and last meetings).



Date Topic Movie(s) Reading
Introduction, Overview, Logical Reasoning

(Optional:  Monty Python's Argument Clinic)

(Extra:  Modern Formal Logic Primer)
Personal Identity

Sybil:  finish it by class on 12-28

RT:  Ch. 2, 3, 4 (pp. 9-34)
Personal Identity
(In class:  The Fly)

"Person Transplant" (pp. 20-23)

The Metamorphosis)

Personal Identity Over Time (Optional:  Being John Malkovich)


"Personal Identity")

Freedom and Determinism (In Class:  Minority Report) RT:  Ch. 5, 6 (pp. 35-67)
Freedom and Determinism (Optional:  Gattica)  
Spacetime Nova:  The Elegant Universe
(you can watch it online)
RT:  Ch. 7, 8, 9 (pp. 68-87)
(Extra:  Time -- Unreal!)
Philosophy of Time / Time Travel

Twelve Monkeys

(In Class:  The Butterfly Effect)


Time-Travel and Physics)

Justification / Skepticism (In Class:  The Truman Show) Descartes:  Meditations 1, 2
(If everyone passes the class) Philosophy of Dating (Optional:  Lolita) (Extra:  Flirting, More Flirting)



       If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me by emailing shievak [at] hotmail [dot] com, with 'IntroPhilosophy' in the subject line.


Can't wait to get started?  Check out some of these:

The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy

Online Papers in Philosophy (compiled by Jonathan Ichikawa)

Philosophy Talk (Radio Show by Ken Taylor and John Perry, podcast on iTunes)

Links to Philosophy Weblogs (compiled by Dave Chalmers)

Philosophy Jokes (also compiled by Dave Chalmers)

The Monads (Philosophy Songs)


Also, in class we will look at some material from the following texts

(you needn't get these, but they do top my list of recommended extra reading!):


Insurmountable Simplicities:  Thirty-nine Philosophical Conundrums

by Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi




Riddles of Existence:  A Guided Tour of Metaphysics

by Earl Conee and Theodore Sider


Click here for:  Ch. 1 (Sider:  Personal Identity over Time) and Ch. 5 (Conee:  Why Not Nothing?)



The Right Thing to Do:  Basic Readings in Moral Philosophy, 3rd Edition

by James Rachels








And, as mentioned in class: