Back to Christian Perring's Home Page
Dowling College Spring 2000
PHIL 002C Western Philosophy 2
Dr. Christian Perring
Class CRN: 20574
Time: TR 11.30 a.m. - 12.50 p.m.
Room 330 RC
Class CRN: 23802 
Time: M 530 - 810 p.m.
Room 423 RC
Office Room: 330A RC
Office Hours: M 500-530, TR 100-300 p.m. & by appointment 
Office Phone: 244-3349 
Class Web page:
(note that the "phl002" contains the letter "l", not the number "1", and zeros, not "o"s)

Course Description: This course is an interdisciplinary study of the growth of Western culture through the study of philosophical and other texts. The course covers the period from the end of the Renaissance through the contemporary period. Topics will include the rise of science and its relation to religion, the foundations of political theory, the social contract, utilitarianism and existentialism. Figures covered will include Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Adam Smith, Mill, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Virginia Woolf.

Teaching Goals: My goals are for you to learn about a number of different views of the world, and for you to see how it is possible to compare and evaluate these views. You shall learn some facts about the ideas of different thinkers, but more importantly you shall understand these ideas and shall be able to explain them clearly in both speech and writing. My tasks in teaching are to help you learn and to evaluate your progress as fairly as possible. You will find many of the texts challenging, and you will need to read them thoughtfully several times in order to understand them. If you feel in need of help with the course work, I encourage you to form study groups with your classmates or to come to me during my office hours.

Grading: There will be four tests, taken in class, worth a total of 40%. You must do a presentation, worth 10%, an 800 word paper, worth 10%, and a 1200 word expansion of your first paper, worth 20%. Attendance is worth 10% of your grade. You will lose 3% for each class hour missed without legitimate excuse; this can go into the negative.  Class participation is worth 10%.

Make-up policy for tests: You can retake ONE and only one of the first three tests during the semester.  There is a 10% penalty for retaking a test (unless you can demonstrate a legitimate reason for not being able to take it).  You must retake your test by May 1, 2000.

Presentation: You will do one presentation, either on your own or in a group of 2 or 3.  The presentation should last roughly 10 minutes per person.  By the end of the first week (February 5), you should give me your top three preferences for which presentation you would like to do.  The presentation topics are listed in the schedule below.   By the end of the second week, I will let you know which presentation you will do.  You will be assessed according to a checklist, which will include the research you did, how effectively you explained the information, and how well you managed to generate class discussion. The presentations for this class are mostly historical: your task is to explain the relevant history of the period and especially focus on the ethical views that were expressed at the time, and how the social conditions were relevant to ethical issues as we see them now.

For guidelines about my policies concerning written work, late work, make-ups, grading policy, and some terminology, see my guidelines page.
iconCourse Book:

The Modern Worldicon

The Modern World
Purchasing any books through these links will benefit the Dowling Philosophy Department
Schedule (subject to change)
Date: ..............
Work to be done (W) 
Presentation Topics
M Jan 31, TR Feb 1&3 Introduction to Modern Philosophy and Enlightenment Fill out Personal Information Sheet  Bacon: The New Scientific Method
M 7, TR 8&10 Scientific Method and God   Descartes: Discourseon Method
Pascal: Thoughts
M 14, TR 15&17 The Philosophical Basic of Knowledge   Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
R 24, T 29, M 28 Basis of Government   Hobbes: Leviathan
Locke: Of Civil Government
The English Civil War and the Bloodless Revolution; The French Revolution
RT 2 7 Mar, M 6 Social Inequality
Test 1
Rousseau: On the Origin of Inequality among Men & On Education
RT 9, 14, M 13 Democracy Paper Topics Given Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France
de Toqueville: Democracy in America
The American Revolution; the Rise in Human Rights; Censorship in the 18th century
RT 16, 21, M 20 Capitalism Smith: The Wealth of Nations The Rise of Cities in the 19th centuries; Debates about Humane Punishment in the 19th Century
RT 23, 28, M 27 Humanitarianism
Test 2
Beccaria: On Crimes and Punishments 
R 30, Apr 4, M 3 Utilitarianism First paper draft due Mill: On Liberty and Utilitarianism  19th Century Censorship; Slavery and attempted justifications of it
TR 11 13, M 10 Communism Hegel: Reason in History
Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto
The Rise of Factories in the 19th Century; The Rise of Workers' Unions; The debate in the US in the 20th century about teaching Darwin's theories in public schools.
M 17, TR 18 25 Existentialism  Test 3 Nietzsche: The Genealogy of Morals
M May 1, TR 2 4 Women's Rights Woolf: A Room of One's Own The life of women in 19th century USA and Europe; The Rise of Women's Right to Vote in 19th and 20th centuries
M 8 T 9
Test 4
M 15 Final paper due at noon .......................................................... ...........................................................................

Class Notes and Study Questions:

Work from previous semesters of this course