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PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy

Steven Hicks

(Submission #110)

Course Description

Philosophy 101, Introduction to Philosophy, is described in Queens College’s Undergraduate Bulletin as follows: “Basic problems such as knowledge, reality, meaning, value, the nature of persons and their political and cultural environment are introduced through selected readings of great philosophers.” In line with this description, the instructor in a typical section of Philosophy 101 assigns readings from both classical and modern philosophers that convey a fair idea of important rival positions in epistemology and metaphysics. As a rule some attention will also be given to issues in one or more of ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of science, and philosophy of religion. How much to include in Philosophy 101 is always difficult to decide. Different instructors decide the matter differently, and the same instructor may decide the matter differently from one semester to the next. The aim shared by all is to encourage students to strive for consistent and reasonable views of their own, mindful of the contrasting views of notable philosophers, on such main problems of philosophy as the following from epistemology and metaphysics: Questions of epistemology (theories about human knowledge):

1. What distinguishes knowledge from opinion? How, if at all, is knowledge obtainable?

2. Is there any knowledge which is so certain that no reasonable person could doubt it?

3. Do the natural sciences give us knowledge? The social sciences?

4. Are there limits to what we can know? If so, how can we know what they are?

5. What is truth? Is it relative? Questions of metaphysics (theories as to the nature of reality):

1. Is it possible that the universe might not have existed? If so, why does it exist?

2. What in the universe is fundamentally real? Matter? Mind? Both?

3. Are the things we perceive by means of our bodily senses (sight, touch, and so on) really just what they appear to be, or is there a difference between appearance and reality?

4. Is there a cause for everything that happens, including every human thought and action?

5. What is the nature of human selfhood or personality? Is this to be understood in terms of a distinction between mind and body?

These are issues typically canvassed in Philosophy 101. Attached is a sample syllabus for the course which includes a description for Philosophy 101 as a PLAS course.


Area of Knowledge and Inquiry: Culture and Values (CV)
Context of Experience: European Traditions (ET)
Extended Requirement: Not Applicable

Additional Course information

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: none
Existing Course: Existing
Existing Course Number: 
Course Anticipated to be offered: Every Semester
Other (if specified): 
Number of Sections: 10
Number of Seats: 40


[Justification, Materials, Assessment, Administration (DOC)]   [Syllabus/Syllabi (DOC)]  

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