Legitimation for Intro to Philosophy

Methodology

A standard philosophy syllabus construction tactic is to assign contrasting perspectives on a topic: one for affirmative action and another against, one for skepticism and another against, and so on. The pedagogical idea is that, by presenting dueling perspectives, students can better learn how to argue.

Tradition

A standard intro to philosophy syllabus construction tactic is to assign a sample of texts from “canonical” figures, such as Plato, Descartes, Hume, etc. Not all introductory courses do this; some problem- or topics-based courses eschew historical figures altogether. And not all introductory courses focus solely on the Western canon; for example, some might mix Western canonical figures with, say, Mengzi and Xunzi. However, I imagine, almost no one would say that course that is based on, say, Plato’s Theaetetus, Descartes’s Meditations, and Hume’s Inquiry does not count as intro to philosophy.

Topic

A standard topic-based intro to philosophy syllabus construction tactic is to assign a sample of topics from recognizable philosophical subfields—a topic or two from epistemology, a topic or two from metaphysics, etc. Of course, even when one does so, it is not possible to cover all philosophical subfields. Indeed, it is not possible to cover all worthwhile topics from the subfields selected. One must pick and choose which topics to cover.

Pluralism, Practicality, Pedagogy

Let me be clear. I am not telling anyone else how they should teach intro to philosophy. The whole point of “How is This Course Intro to Philosophy?” is to advocate for pluralism regarding intro to philosophy. Some philosophers teach an entire intro just on Plato’s Republic. Some philosophers teach intro using speculative fiction. Some philosophers teach intro focusing on Smith, Hayek, Nozick, etc. None of them are disqualified as intro to philosophy, on my view, solely based on the assigned texts.

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廖顯禕

廖顯禕

Academic studying objects and spaces where cognition meets oppression. Taiwanese.