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Being and Knowing

Course Number: PHL 201
Transcript Title: Being and Knowing
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: August 4, 2015
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0
Approved delivery mode:


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Introduces metaphysics and the theory of knowledge via the works of important figures in the history of philosophy. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Students completing this course should be able to:

  1. Recognize and evaluate the philosophical assumptions embedded in one’s own ideas and the ideas that permeate our culture in order to critically assess the truth and validity of arguments from diverse sources.
  2. Identify and reflect on philosophical arguments from the history of philosophy in order to effectively communicate with others that might have divergent points of view.
  3. Recognize and reflect on the interconnectedness and the historical development of philosophical ideas in order to be conscious of the role  philosophical ideas play in one’s own culture and the cultures of others.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies will include some of the following:

  • Essays in the form of in-class exams, short papers, or term papers
  • Student presentations
  • Class and small group discussions
  • Portfolios
  • Service learning projects
  • Attendance

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course will focus on the following topics and issues with a primary focus on the Western philosophical tradition:

  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • What is a philosophical question?
  • How have some historically significant philosophers (including, but not limited to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Leibnitz, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Russell, Wittgenstein) responded to philosophical questions?
  • Epistemological and metaphysical issues that are raised in other areas of philosophy (e. g., ethics, philosophy of religion, aesthetics, philosophy of science, etc.)

Competencies and Skills

Students will learn to:

  • Comprehend philosophical writings.
  • Paraphrase, illustrate, and explain ideas contained in philosophical writings.
  • Critique and challenge philosophical ideas.
  • Write philosophically coherent arguments.