CUL320 - Introduction to Philosophy: Thought & Intelligence

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-06-01 14:20:48.747
Last review date 2018-07-16 00:15:01.153

Subject Title
Introduction to Philosophy: Thought & Intelligence

Subject Description
This is a wide-ranging introduction to Western philosophy that will be of interest to many. We will focus on a number of traditional problems, such as the nature of knowledge, the primacy of matter versus mind, the existence of God, the nature of ethics, the freedom of the will, the mind-body problem and the related problem of life after death. The student is encouraged to explore various perspectives on each issue, to participate in classroom discussions, and to develop a tentatively critical frame of mind with regard to the issues. The goal of the course is to develop critical thinking and philosophical reasoning, not to arrive at any final conclusions(let alone any preconceived ones) on any of the ultimate questions. Much of what we will be doing deals with common religious and supernatural beliefs. The following quotation from the modern philosopher Karl Jaspers will serve as a sort of motto for the course: "[T]he essence of philosophy is not the possession of the truth, but the search for truth.  ....Philosophy means to be on the way. Its questions are more essential than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question."

Credit Status
One General Education Credit

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1. Demonstrate in discussion and written work a reasoned, informed approach towards philosophic argument.

2. Demonstrate, in classroom discussion, reading and comprehension skills in studying such philosophers as Plato, Aquinas, and David Hume.

3. Write on selected topics with clarity and coherence. Example: arguments for the existence of God and absolutism versus relativism in ethics.

4. Consistently identify positive, professional attitudes that include: a sense of responsibility in meeting assigned deadlines; initiative and self-directedness in seeking out relevant learning resources; and adhering to the accepted format in written work.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.


Topic Outline

  • The Idea of Philosophy: The Socratic Method 
  • The Nature of Knowledge: How and what can we know?
  • The Existence of God: Is proof of God's existence possible and in what terms?
  • Ethical Theories: Absolute standards of right and wrong versus Relativism
  • Free Will and Determinism: Are we puppets or agents of our own wills?
  • Body and Mind: Are we primarily mental, physical or both?
  • Life after Death: Is this life all there is?  Is there good evidence for life after death?  Is the concept meaningful?
  • Why Study Philosophy: What difference does Philosophy make to my life?

Mode of Instruction

In-class: Students attend classes on campus each week. All instruction is delivered in a face to face environment.
Teaching and Learning Methods:
To ensure that students are engaged as much as possible in the learning process, instructors can use such teaching methods as class and small group discussions, essays and research, individual and group presentations, readings, lectures, workshops, in-class exercises, and/or web-based instruction. The mode of delivery will dictate the most appropriate teaching methods available to an instructor.

Prescribed Texts
Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy, 9th ed. Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN# 9781285874319.


Reference Material

Required Supplies

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

To be successful in this course, you must complete all course work as specified and achieve an overall grade of 50% or higher. For further information on evaluation and academic standing, see a copy of the Academic Policy available at Seneca registration offices.

Term work:
All term work assignments must be completed prior to the time of the final exam or last class.  Students must contact faculty in advance of the assignment due date to discuss the possibility of an extension.  Late assignments may be subject to the awarding of a penalty resulting in a lower grade assigned. 
Make-up opportunities for assignments must also be made in advance of the scheduled due date.  If an assignment is missed due to class absence, official documentation must be submitted to the faculty member on or before the next scheduled class. Make-up opportunities may not apply to all graded assignments

Quizzes 25%
1 in-class Presentation 20%
1 major Paper & Outline 30%
1 Final Exam 25%

Student Success:
Please come prepared to participate in class. Make sure you bring your course text to each class, participate in class discussions, hand in any assigned work on time and attend each and every class. Following these suggestions will increase your chances of success.

Students should keep all assignments (including drafts and outlines) and exercises until they receive their final grade. Students may appeal any final grade in a subject or any decision by the College, following the recommendation of a Promotion Committee, with respect to the student's academic standing, continuation or status in a program, School, Faculty or the College. It is the policy of the College that a student who invokes this appeal process will be given a fair hearing.  For further information on appeals, please see Section 12 of the Academic Policy Handbook.


Approved by: Fiona Bain-greenwood