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JTS-CGST:
MICHAELMAS 2003:

Introduction to Philosophy 





I. COURSE DESCRIPTION:

This course introduces students to key approaches, ideas, inquiries and issues of Philosophy in the context of their significance for/challenge to the project of thinking, living and serving Christ and community as informed, educated Christians. Through structured participative approaches, it will emphasise: (1) primary questions/foci/issues; (2) terms, tools and techniques used to address such issues with due regard for precision, clarity and cogency; and, (3) the use of the principle of comparative difficulties to critically reflect on pivotal elements, issues and impacts of the systems put forward by select ancient, medieval and modern/postmodern philosophers, in response to these questions. Through these explorations, the interaction of philosophy and Christian faith across time will also be explored, to discover whether biblically rooted, philosophically informed, prophetic intellectual and cultural leadership (e.g. as sketched in Acts 17:16 – 33) is possible and/or desirable. The participants will then use their findings to discuss the relevance and applicability of philosophical questions and approaches to current challenges faced by the Caribbean.

GO TO FIRST UNIT

 

II. Tentative Course Schedule

 

DATE

TOPIC

READINGS

(TBA)

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

1.       Oct. 8

Course Intro: Syllabus, overview & what is Philosophy; “parable” of the cave; compare & contrast biblical, philosophical & “man of action” approaches

 

Read the Cave and critically assess Plato’s case for philosophy as a basis for education and action

2.  Oct. 15

Discussion: Philosophy at work – logic vs. rhetoric, epistemology & ethics in action; select philosophers and their arguments.

 

 

“Cave” reports due; begin thinking about a reading review and a Term paper topic.

Oct. 20

Jamaica's National Heroes’ Day Public Holiday

3.    Oct. 22

Discussion: metaphysics, world views and the “proofs” for the existence of God; the problem of evil as an atheological “proof”

 

Term paper and reading review topics chosen

4.     Oct. 29

Quiz # 1;

Discussion: Epistemology & the rise of Science; theology, faith and philosophy

 

 

5.  Nov. 5

Discussion: Cosmology, Science, Education & major worldviews in the post-modern age

 

Reading reviews due; to be posted to course web site after markup

6.   Nov. 12

Discussion: Philosophy and the evolution of theology since C18

 

 

7.    Nov. 19

Quiz # 2;

Discussion: ethics, sustainability and development in the Caribbean

 

 

8 Nov.   26

Discussion: Philosophy and the Caribbean in C21

 

 

9.  Dec. 3

Student oral presentations of topics in papers

 

Term papers due

10.Dec.10

Possible Exam day

 

 

 

III. INSTRUCTIONAL GOAL AND OBJECTIVES:

GOAL: Through participation in this course, students should demonstrate an understanding of and confident ability to critically assess – and, where appropriate, apply --  key issues, concepts, approaches and tools of philosophy to the 21st Century Caribbean context, in light of relevance/challenges to the areas of ministry into which they are called.

OBJECTIVES: In order to fulfill this goal, students who have successfully completed the course should be able to :

1.

Identify major themes, branches[1], concerns and techniques of philosophy, comparing/contrasting them with those of theology and the empirical sciences.

 

2.

Critically but fairly assess the claims, degree of coherence and impacts of key elements and arguments of several major philosophical systems and associated worldviews. In so doing they should address:

 

§         premises, presuppositions, principles,

§         proof- and/or evidence- claims,

§         theories/models & procedures,

§         arguments, conclusions and agendas for action.

 

(Thus participants will advance their capacity as critical consumers of information, arguments, knowledge-claims and proposals/agendas.)

 

3.

Compare and contrast Philosophical and Biblical ideas, claims and agendas; through assessing/formulating biblically aware, philosophically informed analyses and/or proposals, in light of challenges facing the Caribbean.  

 

4.

Identify and critically discuss worldview assumptions and philosophical elements embedded in typical analyses, opinion pieces or proposals in the Caribbean context, presenting findings in fair-minded but critical presentations or dialogue.  

 

5.

Present such analyses and arguments through acceptable oral, multimedia or written formats as appropriate/required.

 

IV. Course Syllabus:

Go here

Grading Scale

V. Some Resources and Links


  1. Go to Links and References page, this site.

  2. Straight Thinking 101

  3. Ethics and Development: slide show, paper

  4. Plato's Allegory of The Cave online

  5. Campus Crusade's Leadership U: a good source for Christian perspectives on issues

  6. Christianity Today Online: a good general Christian perspective on issues.

  7. Online Journals of interest:
  8. Calvin's Institutes: the worldview that largely shaped the Reformation and its heritage.

  9. Rutherford's Lex, Rex: progenitor of modern Government by Rule of Law


  10. Galileo & the Church: an unusual perspective

  11. William Paley's argument on design (a sample rebuttal)

  12. Schliermacher

  13. Kierkegaard Commentary site (Kirekegaard site.)

  14. Kuyper

  15. Barth

  16. The Fundamentals

  17. Spong (responses: )

  18. Perspectives on post-modernism

  19. A C. S. Lewis site

  20. Schaeffer

  21. Plantinga

  22. Pannenberg

  23. Kuhn

  24. William Lane Craig's Online Office

  25. Feyerabend's against methods

  26. Dembski

  27. Carson

  28. Garvey

Others are to be added.



[1] That is, Metaphysics, Ethics, Logic, Epistemology, Aesthetics and extensions to “Philosophy of X,”  e.g. Religion, Education, Politics, or Science.