Introduction to College Philosophy: Great Book Socratic Seminars & Film


Socratic Seminar & Film English textbook

Introduction to College Philosophy. Part I Socratic Method defines, illustrates, and demo-nstrates how to implement Socratic Seminars. (Ch. 1-8).

Part II Overview of Great Book Socratic Seminars. What is philosophy? Why do we need philosophy? What does philosophy have to do with theology?

Part III How important is God in your life? Is evil the sole plausible argument for atheism? How do Robert Frost’s complementary poems on Job and Jonah illustrate the paradox of God’s justice and mercy?

Part IV Can we forget that we are human? Can right and wrong be a clue to the meaning of the universe? Do we all have the same uncon-ditional right to life? Why does law sometimes fail to achieve justice? Why would “no one choose to live without friends”?

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This college course, an Introduction to Philosophy, is not:

  • - a history of the great philosophers and their systems.
  • - a survey of the traditional divisions of philosophy--metaphysics, epistemology, phenomenology, ethics, politics, and aesthetics
  • But:

  • - a process of doing philosophy that takes up some of the basic questions and problems that we will all encounter in life--sooner or later.
  • - an application of the Socratic method of teaching and learning that develop habits of independent, critical, and reflective thinking.
  • - a series of Socratic seminars on the Great Books by the greatest faculty of the Western world.
  • - a process that illustrates how to pass from the world of work, need, and empirical science into “the world of all things” (beings) that Being provides

That is why this introductory course begins with the Socratic method of doing philos-ophy by defining and illustrating it to enable teachers to implement this method of learning in their classrooms. For this reason also, the course focuses not on personalities but basic questions of interpretation that cluster around four themes: (1) Is the teacher or student the primary agent in learning? (2) What is philosophy and is it necessary? (3) How important is God in your life? and (4) Can we forget that we are human?

The course is a balance of contemporary authors: Josef Pieper, Etienne Gilson, Flannery O’Connor, John Updike, Antonio Monda, Robert Frost, C. S. Lewis, and Andrew Postman and readings from the greatest faculty in the world--authors of the Great Books of the Western World: Plato, Aristotle, Heidegger, Bergson, Pascal, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Huxley, Orwell, Emerson, Melville, Kafka, and Shakespeare.

Why Great Books? Why these Great Books? Great Books, according to Matthew Arnold, are “the best that is known and thought in the world.” G. K Chesterton maintains that Great Books are always relevant because they are timeless--they can be read and reinterpreted in by each succeeding generation in light of its own experience. Great Books are those that genera-tion after generation read and reread because of their universal themes, boundless interpretations, inspired and memorable language, and timeless wisdom. In short, some books become great because they endure. And they endure because the human race endures.

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