Topic outline



Ms. Caine

914-793-6130 ext. 4478



"I think, therefore I am (Cogito, ergo Sum)."

Rene Descartes


Course Description:


                The historical and present-day importance of philosophy cannot be overemphasized. Philosophy may be defined as critical thinking about such fundamental questions as:


     Who am I?

     How should I live?

     Is there any sense to the universe?

     What is truth?                        


In investigating such questions, the aim is to clarify the issues and examine their implications through both observation and the use of reason and, if possible, to propose answers to them. The study of philosophy develops skill in critical thinking and sharpens understanding by uncovering presuppositions, identifying core premises, and evaluating arguments both in everyday life and in systems of thought. It also requires creativity in dealing with new problems and developing new perspectives.


Philosophy embraces a wide range of topics common to both Eastern and Western thought: the nature of existence (metaphysics); the theory of knowledge (epistemology); and ethical, political, aesthetic, and religious aspects of human nature and action. Philosophers investigate age-old problems, such as the nature and limits of science and the patterns of reasoning, as well as contemporary issues, such as the nature of artificial intelligence.


Since disciplined philosophical study will help students to increase their knowledge and understanding of themselves and the world around them, philosophy will provide a basis for further studies in the social sciences and humanities, as well as an understanding of the foundations of natural science and its place in the modern world.


Philosophy provides the foundation for intelligent discussion and assessment of the myriad doctrinal and ethical issues confronting individuals in the world today, especially in our democratic cultural and political climate where personal decision and influence are encouraged. 






Course Objective:


   Master a broad body of knowledge

   Demonstrate an understanding of the history of philosophical                 thought

   Use research to support an argument or position

   Differentiate between different philosophical schools of thought

   Work effectively with others to produce products (such as presentations, videos…) and solve problems


Materials Required:


  Small binder/spiral notebook that will be brought to class each               day with materials needed for the current unit of study.

  Blank journal


  Writing utensils….


Key to Success:


                The most important grading factor in this class is consistent effort.  In an attempt to understand the various philosophical schools of thought as well as developing your own philosophies, an emphasis will be placed on research and analysis.  Therefore, your ability to manage your time while working independently is tantamount to your success in the course.  The amount of homework for this class will vary with your reading speed.  You should expect to do something for this class everyday.  I hope that you will enjoy the semester, work hard, and come out in January “thinking like a philosopher”; questioning everything!


Late Policy:


            In order to receive credit for all work, it must be submitted when it is due.  I will deduct 10% off of the original grade you would have received for each of the first three days after the original due date (max of 30% deduction).  After that time, you will receive a zero for that assignment. 


Grading Policy:


                My grading system is very simple – the total number of points you receive divided by the total possible points for those assignments.  One grade will be a class participation/discussion grade for 100 points and will be added to your total point value score.  Another will be your class journal grade, which will also be worth 100 points towards your class average.  Generally speaking, you will be given a rubric for all activities and assignments.  This will enable you to evaluate and assess all requirements at the onset of the task.  Before the end of the marking period, I will ask for you to complete a self-evaluation sheet with a list of the criteria for you to evaluate yourself for the participation grade.  It will serve as a guide for me before I make a final decision on your score for that grade.  Therefore, your final grade for each marking period is 99% in your control, so you get what you give! J







Class Rules:


  1. Always give your best effort on all class activities and assignments.  They are opportunities to learn, achieve and grow.  Take advantage of them!

  2. Academic Freedom!  All students have a right to their opinions, however unpopular.  How you support your opinions is a key to doing well in this class.  Respect for the opinion of others is a class requirement!

  3. Remember that your personal honor and integrity are a very precious and important part of who you are as a person.  Therefore, I expect that you will do all of your OWN work at all times.

  4. Do not be late.  Be inside the door when the bell rings, unless you have a legitimate excuse to be tardy.

  5. Keep in mind that I want all of you to do well.  I am here to help you reach your goals and your full potential as a student and as a human being.

  6. I encourage you to approach me after class so that I can give you my undivided attention.  I will always make the time to ensure your understanding of the subject material!  Please don’t hesitate to share your respectful feelings with me.  Students quickly learn that I will eagerly listen and respond to their concerns when they approach me courteously.



I am looking forward to an enlightening semester! 

Have fun and enjoy the experience!


The Philosopher’s Dilemma

Fall 2010

Ms. Caine

Throughout time, philosophers have wrestled with some of the most perplexing questions.  This simulation will allow you to ponder a smattering of those questions from the perspective of the great philosophers.   

Student Requirements:

1.                     Research your philosopher.

2.                   Prepare a statement explaining why and how your philosophic perspective has changed the world, as we know it.  Be persuasive!  Be creative! (Remember…you are the philosopher!)

3.                   In a short paper, discuss your (the selected philosopher) perspective with regard to the following life altering questions…

        Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

        What is time and how is it measured?

        If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

        Why do people who know the least know it the loudest?

        Do stairs go up or down?

        If ignorance is bliss, why aren’t more people happy?

4.                   Try to tear holes in other philosopher’s arguments as they present their cases

5.                   Reflect on the day’s discussion in your class journal.

Presentations will be held beginning on September 19th during class.  Research notes and papers are due on the same date!

Nominees for Charter Membership in the Great Depression Hall of Fame

Hannah Arendt                                                   Aristotle

Francis Bacon                                                     Simone de Beauvoir

George Berkeley                                                  Buddha

Albert Camus                                                       Confucius

Charles Darwin                                                    Rene Descartes

John Dewey                                                          Diogenes of Apollonia

Emile Durkheim                                                    Epictetus

Sigmund Freud                                                    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

David Hume                                                          Carl Jung

Immanuel Kant                                                    Soren Kierkegaard

Lao Tzu                                                                  John Locke

Niccolo Machiavelli                                             Karl Marx              

Friedrich Nietzsche                                            Plato

Pythagoras                                                          Ayn Rand

George Santayana                                             Jean-Paul Sartre

Socrates                                                               Baruch Spinoza

Mary Wollstonecraft







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