Philosophy of the Human Person (0122-300-05)
Class: TR, 3:10a-4:25p, CO 322
Office: Campion D6 (Note: I moved. Now I am right next
to the Philosophy Department)
Office Hours: Thurs, 1:30-3p, but most likely I will be around also
on Tues at the same time, and also on other days. Please Check.
Office Phone: 422-6424 (422-6543 for the philosophy dept.)
If you would like to do an oral final exam (May 13-16), there is a sign-up
sheet on my office door, so please sign up. Or send me a message
and I can see what times are still available.
TOPIC #12 (Due Wed. May 15. 3-4 pages typed.)
What does Sartre mean when he says "man is nothing but what he makes of
himself?" In what way are we absolutely free, according to Sartre?
How is freedom related to responsibility? What would be Blatchford's
objection to Sartre? Which side do you agree with, and why?
Explain, and critique your opponent's view (if you agree with Sartre, explain
in what way Blatchford is wrong. If you agree with Blatchford, explain
in what way Sartre is wrong).
Topic #13 (Due Wed May 15. 3-4 pages typed.)
Create a topic similar to all of the previous ones, that would apply to
any of the reading material we have covered. For example, you might
do a comparison/contrast between the two authors from different sections
(like comparing Blatchford and a relationalist, or contrasting Sartre and
a relationalist, comparing Sartre and Peters, etc). Or, you may go
back to any of the topics you have not written on up to now (select a new
one--can't re-do a previous one). Here are the list
of previous topics.
If you have given me a paper during the first three topics (if you did
either topics 1, 2, or 3), then you have the 5th paper option, to substitute
for the lowest score for the other 4 papers. If you did not do the
first three, you do not have the 5th paper option. 4 papers total,
for 60 points total, will be counted.
For week (Week 14, April 23, 25), we began Section IV, Free Will and Determinism.
We began on St. Augustine, #21. Read also #22, Sartre, for next week
(Week 15, April 30, May 2).
Handout: Questions to Wonder About Handout
How to Write a Philosophy Paper
Please purchase the READER at the Philosophy Dept, CA D6. $13,
check to "USF," or bring exact change.
Check out these sites which may be relevant:
"Project Cyborg": (This link opens with Explorer only.) He is a professor
of cybernetics at the Univ. of Reading (UK), with a chip implanted on his
Near-term Future Timeline Predictions
Researchers Clone a Pet Cat
The Lifeboat Foundation (Will advanced
technologies in the future wipe us out?)
Possibility of Artificial Intelligence Taking Over (Real Video, about 20
Altered Babies Born
to be cloned by 2003
What do you think? Transgenic
Art and the real rabbit that "glows in the dark"
computer using leech neurons
(microprocessors with living brain tissue)
Using monkey brain to move a robotic
arm (NY Times article)
A short article (IHT) on nanotechnology
The Dangers of
New Technology, by Bill Joy (IHT)
The Robot Revolution
Is On the Way (IHT)
That Writes Music
Prerequisite: Great Philosophical Questions (Philosophy 110).
Recommended: College Writing II. Not open to non-philosophy
majors and minors.
The focus of the course is the meaning of “personhood”—what it means to
be a human being, a self, and the question involving “human nature.”
This course fulfills part of the Philosophy and Theology requirement
(Area F) of the GEC.
The unique features of this course include:
From the vast range of philosophical issues associated with this topic,
we will look into four specific approaches:
Philosophy from a global perspective: In addition to the readings
from the Western philosophical tradition, some African, Latin American,
Asian, and Native American views are included.
Option for Oral Final Exam: This is a course in which you are invited
to think critically on your own, and the process begins from the start
of the course. The readings are there for you to engage your mind
with; at the end of the course, you and I will meet individually to discuss
your own ideas about the material (see description below).
The course is designed for a “transformation” of your thinking potential.
But for this to occur, you must participate actively not only with the
course material but with your own mind and the ideas of others in class.
Section 1. Questioning Personhood in the 21st Century: We
begin our course with inquiries into some of our present/future concerns
and challenges from science and technology regarding what it means to be
human. How is technology, such as genetic engineering, robotics,
and artificial intelligence, changing our conceptions of the “human?”
What can we expect in the next 50 years?
Section 2. Classical theories: Soul, Mind, and Body: To
investigate the fundamental questions of personhood, we return to the origins.
In this section, we examine some of the theories of Plato, Aquinas, and
Descartes, in particular the problem of the “mind-body dualism.”
Section 3. Relations, Society, and the Social Aspects of the
Human Being: In this section we examine the meanings of happiness,
society and the person, as well as some of the ways in which our “selfhood”
is constituted through our social reality and connections to others and
Section 4. Free will and Determinism: Following from the previous
sections, in this section we examine the question of whether we are ultimately
“determined” by our biology, heredity, environment, beliefs, and other
conditioning factors, or whether we have “free will” to override any such
determination, and if so, to what extent. We will then return to
the beginning of the course and think about what it means to be human in
today’s context again.
There is a course READER. (Beginning Week 2.)
The reading assignments must be read before the class.
Course Requirements and Grading:
1. Four Topic Papers (take-home, 3-4 typed pages each). 15 points
each, 60 points total. On Thursdays, I will give out a topic, starting
week 3 (the first topic will be given out on Feb 7), ending with week 14
(the last topic will be given on Thursday, April 25). The weekly
topics will also be posted on my website at htttp://www.arisaka.org.
For each of the topic given, the paper is due the following Thursday (which
means you have one week to work on it. You can turn it in early).
3 point penalty for papers turned in late, by the weekend. No late
paper will be accepted beyond that Monday; if you miss the deadline, just
select another topic/week. You may not go back to the previous topic,
so try to keep up with the schedule. During the semester (week 3-week
14, minus spring break, so you have 11 topics/weeks) you may pick any weekly
topic, and you may turn in up to 5 papers, dropping the worst grade.
Space your papers so that they fit your schedule the best. Your first
paper must be turned in for either week 3, 4, or 5 (topics 1, 2, or 3).
If you miss these, you’d miss the 5th paper option.
The topic papers will have the following format: First, I will ask you
to identify an argument from the readings. Second, I will ask you
to evaluate the argument, i.e., agree or disagree and give your own explanation
and argument. Note: No points will be given for not identifying
the author’s argument, and no points if you just simply state your opinions
or beliefs without an argument. For more detail, refer to the handout
on “how to write a philosophy paper,” which will be given out the first
week (also on website). You should refer to it often during the semester.
Normally, 15 points is reserved for an “outstanding” paper. If it
is well done, you will get 12 or 13. If it is ok, meaning approximately
an equivalent of a “B” paper, you will get 10 or 11. If you receive
10’s for the first two papers, please come see me.
2. Final Essay or Oral Final Exam (20 points total). The
final paper topics will be given out by the end of Week 12. If you
take the Oral Final Exam option, then sometime during the finals week I
will meet with you individually. For both the essay and oral exam,
I will ask each of you to discuss a total of four authors taken from the
different parts of the course to explain your own theory of what it means
to be human. The detailed instruction and a sign-up sheet will be
handed out later in the semester. If choose to do an oral final
exam, instead of a full essay you will be asked to turn in an outline of
For both the topic and final papers, you may turn your paper in electronically.
Be sure to put your name on the paper itself.
3. Participation and Discussion (20 points total). Please
purchase a set of 3x5 index cards. In addition to taking attendance,
sometimes at the beginning of each class, I will ask you simple questions
about the reading material and collect a 3x5 index card with date and your
name on it. You lose a point if you turn in a blank card, or for
each unexcused absence.
100 points total. 92 or above is A. 90 and 91 are A-. 88
and 89 are B+, 82-87 is B, 80 and 81 are B-, and so on.
Week 1 (Jan 22, 24) Overview: Thought experiments and discussions, based
on the handout “Questions to Think About,” on the four sections.
Going over the “How to Write a Philosophy Paper” handout for preparation
for the topic papers.
Section 1: Questioning Personhood in the 21st Century
Week 2 (Jan 29, 31) Thought experiments continued; Film on “Measure
Week 3 (Feb 5, 7) Video on genetic engineering and reproduction
technology; Material on nanotechnology, on Turing, Joy, Searle, Dennett
(Can Computers “Think?”), and Peters
Week 4 (Feb 12, 14) Above continued
Section 2. Classical Theories: Soul, Mind, and Body
Week 5 (Feb 19,21) Plato and Aristotle
Week 6 (Feb 26, 28) Aquinas
Week 7 (Mar 5, 7) Descartes
Week 8: (Mar 12, 14) Critiques: Eve Browning Cole
Section 3. Relations, Society, and the Social Aspects of the Human Being
Week 9 (Mar 19, 21) Buber, MacIntyre, Confucianism
Week 10: Spring Break
Week 11 (April 2, 4) Hobbes, Mills, Spelman
Week 12 (April 9, 11) Above continued
Section 4. Free Will and Determinism
Week 13 (Apr 16, 18) St. Augustine, Sartre
Week 14 (Apr 23, 25) Blatchford
Week 15 (Apr 30, May 2) Compatibilism
Week 16 (May 7): Summary
Final paper is due on Thursday, May 16, 4pm.
Policy on Attendance, Turning in your papers, etc.
You are expected to attend every class, as participation is weighed heavily.
I will accept VALID excuses (medical emergency, or other events which are
totally beyond your control). It is your responsibility to contact
me if you must miss class.
Please note that “turning in the paper” means that I receive it; it
does NOT mean that you dropped it off. When in doubt, you must make
sure with me that I actually have your material. Please be sure to
keep a copy of your paper.
If you must drop the course, it is your responsibility to take care
of the paperwork and to contact me. If you stop coming and your name
appears on the roster at the end of the course, you will receive an F (not
my choice, but if your name appears on the final grading sheet, I have
to assign a grade). An “I” grade can be given only for a missed FINAL.
It must be arranged with me beforehand.
Feel free to talk to me about any concerns you may have about the course.
I am always interested in what you have to say.
Back to my main page.