A Different Kind of Introduction to Philosophy

Here is a copy of my syllabus for Introduction to Philosophy, whose goals are outlined in the overview below. Comments are welcome: gabriel.rockhill@gmail.com


Drawing on an array of texts that surpass the standard ‘Western’ canon, this course will grapple with some of the most expansive and intimidating philosophic questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the nature of reality? Who are we? What—if anything—can we know? What is philosophy itself, and how might it help to elucidate some of these questions? In each case, we will approach these issues from multiple and diverse perspectives, often reframing or displacing them in order to reveal hidden philosophic assumptions.

Rather than seeking to find definitive closure or unanimous consensus, this seminar will cultivate a process of open-ended collective inquiry in which students will be encouraged to think autonomously and challenge facile solutions. The material covered will include ancient, Christian, modern and contemporary sources, as well as texts from beyond the canonized—and largely white, male, middle-class, European—history of philosophy. This will allow us to critically reflect on the deep-seated presuppositions of particular cultural traditions, while engaging with radically different practices of philosophic interrogation. Students should come away from the course with an expanded sense of theoretical possibilities, as well as an arsenal of critical tools for developing creative and rigorous thinking.


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