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FALL 2003


Instructor: Paul Leclerc, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Department of Social Sciences
Tel.: (401) 886-4107

Office hours: T, 1-2 pm
Office: Flanagan, 1244
Office Tel.: 333-7294, ext. 1
Web site:

COURSE DESCRIPTION AND GOALS: This course is designed to introduce the student to the basic concepts, systematic problems, radical questioning, critical reasoning, and general historical evolution of Western philosophy. Students will learn and practice philosophical techniques of critical analysis and argumentation. Conceptual precision, radical questioning, reflective depth, historical sensibility, and critical reasoning skills will be emphasized and encouraged. These basic philosophical skills have a wide scope of fruitful application. These include academic, professional, and personal areas of life and practice. Consequently, course goals include:

  • Basic comprehension of the central concepts, systematic problems, and main arguments of Western philosophy
  • Acquisition of critical, reflective reasoning skills applicable to general theoretical questions and particular practical problems
  • Cultivation of an initial historical sense of the evolution of Western philosophy
  • Development of critical, reflective, and radical insight into your own fundamental philosophical orientation to life



1. Robin Waterfield, ed. The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and Sophists. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
2. Hugh Tredennick, trans. The Last Days of Socrates: Euthyphro/Apology/Crito/Phaedo. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.
3. René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies, ed. John Cottingham. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.
4. Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ. Trans. R. J. Hollingdale. New York: Viking Press, 1990.


1. Readings in the course texts and supplementary materials provided in class.

2. Brief written assignments (approximately 1-3 typed pages) based on critical study questions, reflective and interpretive exercises, and student questionnaires. Typed papers are highly recommended, yet legible handwritten papers will be accepted. There will be five (5) written assignments worth 10% of your course grade. Evaluation will be on a pass/fail basis. Standards of evaluation include:

  • Completion of assignment as directed
  • Evidence of conscientious effort
  • Length adequate to specific assignment
  • Completion by due date
  • Correct use of Standard English
Passed Points Letter Grade
5 5 A
4 4 B
3 3 C
2 2 D
1 1 F

EXAMS:  There will be two (2) exams during the semester and a final exam during exam week. Exams will consist of T/F, multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. An exam study review handout will be passed out at least one week prior to exams. The final exam will be representative rather than cumulative. Approximately 50% of the final exam will cover a representative selection of prior course material, and 50% will cover new course material. Please note exam percentages of course grade listed in the Calculation of Course Grade section below.

EXAM MAKE-UP POLICY:  Permission to be excused from a scheduled exam will be granted only for a family emergency or serious medical reason, and must be given prior to the exam. Please request permission as soon as possible in order to facilitate rescheduling plans. An unexcused absence from a scheduled exam will result in a failing grade for that exam.

Exam 1 10/1
Exam 2 11/12
Final Exam 12/16-19 (TBA)


Exam 1 25%
Exam 2 25%
Final Exam 40%
Written Assignments 10%

Lecture, class discussion, and small-group discussion. Class participation is an integral part of the course and is highly encouraged.

You are expected to attend class, be prepared to ask and answer questions, and participate in class discussions. If you miss a class for any reason you are still responsible for material covered and assignments given. You will be granted one (1) unexcused absence. Each additional absence will result in a 1/3 reduction in your course grade (for example, a B to a B-). Consistent attendance and class participation will weigh in your favor if you’re on the border between two grades.


You’re strongly encouraged to visit my LOGOS Web site for course handouts, helpful links, exam reviews, and miscellaneous philosophical materials:

As a courtesy to the professor and your peers, please shut off any electronic communication devices prior to entering the classroom.