Hans-Georg Gadamer at Great Falls, VA
Copyright © 1971 Gordon L. Ziniewicz

Philosophical
Journeys:
An Introduction to Philosophy


Gordon L. Ziniewicz

Topics and Readings

[Note: This page will change frequently. Links to readings will be removed, changed, or added in a timely manner and as time permits. Moreover, our pace will be unpredictable. So, who knows what we will be doing when?]

1.  Introduction and Overview.  What's It All About.  The Love of Wisdom.  Philosophy as Process and Result.  The Nature of Presuppositions. Dialogue, Dialectic, and Ethical Deliberation. Readings: (1) Wisdom and Dialectic; (2) What Is Philosophy (Quotes), (3) Dialectic (Guidelines), (4) How to Read Philosophy

2.  Introduction to Philosophy, Part II: Understanding in Context: Fundamental Attitude. Attachment and Detachment. Reading: (1) Understanding in Context, (2) Quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson, (3) Quotes from Henry David Thoreau, (4 ) On the Laws of Japanese Painting (excerpt), (5) Preface to "Thoughts in Solitude," by Thomas Merton

3.  Pre-Socratic Philosophy:  Thales, Anaximander, and Pythagoras.  Order and Harmony in Pythagoras. Heraclitus: The Art of Steering Well Through Life.  Sight and Insight.  Waking and Sleeping.  The Private and the Common. Readings: (1) Presocratic Philosophy, (See especially articles on Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras), (2) Heraclitus on the Logos (Summary), (3) Heraclitus on the Logos, (4) The Fragments of Heraclitus: A Partial Reconstruction, (5) Presocratic Summary with Texts, (6) Anaximander [Fragments]

4Plato's Socrates:  The Apology:  The Conscience of a Community.  Discussion of Socrates' Mission.  The Place of Philosophy in Human Life.  Philosophy as Criticism of Values. Readings: (1) The Apology (translated by Jowett), (2) The Apology:  The Conscience of a Community

5. Plato's Socrates:  The Crito:  Custom (Communal Way of Life) as Parent and Adversary.  Readings: (1) Plato's Socrates: The Crito: Customs (Nomoi) as Parents and Adversaries,
(2) The Jowett translation of The Crito by Plato, and (3) Summary of the Argument Against Escaping from Prison

6. Plato:  The Theory of Forms.  The Ideas as Blueprints. Readings: (1) The Ideas as Blueprints, (2) Brief Reflections on Plato

7. Plato:  Republic:  Order and Justice:  Psychology and Politics: Crafting Character, Community, and the Universe. Plato's Pragmatic Idealism.  Aristocracy and Democracy.   Readings: (1) Republic, Book VII, (2) Order and Justice: The Divided Line: The Cave Allegory,
(3) The Good as Order and Arrangement, (4)
The Soul and the City: Justice as Right Arrangement, (5) Laws X: The Individual and the Universe: The Part and the Whole

8. Aristotle:  Physics and Metaphysics.  Aristotle's Theory of Knowledge.  Aristotle's View of the Universe.  Philosophy as Science. The Four Causes or Principles (aitia). Readings:
(1) Metaphysics, Book I, Part One; (2) Physics and Metaphysics, (3) Contrasting Conceptions of Ancient (Aristotelian) and Modern Science

9. Aristotle:  Ethics. The Place of Human Beings in the Universe.  Why Philosophers Are Not Kings.  Readings: (1) Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics, (2) Moral Virtues and the Mean,
(3) Some Aristotelian-like Presuppositions

10. Epicurus:  Philosophy as Pain Avoidance:  Politics, Religion, and Other Sources of Anxiety. Justice and Life in the City.  Readings:  (1) Epicurus, Letters, Principal Doctrines, and Vatican Sayings from Epicurus.info: Epicurean Philosophy Online; (2) Epicurus: Philosophy as Pain Avoidance; (3) Outline of Epicurus: Philosophy as Pain Avoidance

11. The Stoics:  Freedom in the Walled City of the Mind:  The Woes of Attachment.  Readings: (1) The Enchiridion, or Manual, of Epictetus (Internet Classics Archive); (2) Freedom in the Walled City of the Mind, (3) Some Stoic Guidelines (Based on Epictetus)

12. The Medieval View of the World:  Sin and Salvation:  Is Society Worth Saving Anyway?
Readings: (1) Ancient and Medieval Presuppositions, (2) The Medieval View of the World: Sin and Salvation, (3) Texts from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas

13. Descartes:  Introduction.  Galileo's Problem.  Rationalism vs. Empiricism. Readings:
(1) Discourse on Method: Mind and Body, (2) Descartes: Mind and Body (Outline), (3) Discourse on Method, Parts One and Two

14. Descartes:  Science and Doubt.  Rules of the Method.  The Advantages of Anonymity.  Descartes' Moral Maxims. Readings: (1) Discourse on Method: Mind and Body,
(2) Descartes: Mind and Body (Outline),
(3)  Discourse on Method, Parts Three and Four

15.  Descartes'  Proofs for the Existence of the Soul and God.  Mind and Body.  Consciousness and Self-consciousness.  The Soul, God, and the World.  The  Implications of Descartes' "Proofs." Descartes' Mind/Body Dualism. Readings: (1) Discourse on Method, Parts Four, Five, and Six, (2) Descartes' Mind/Body Dualism

16. Hobbes:  The State of Nature:  The "Nature" of the State.  Discussion of Hobbes' View of Human Nature and the State. Readings: (1) The State of Nature:  The "Nature" of the State, (2) Texts from Hobbes' Leviathan, (3) Texts from Hobbes' De Cive

17. How Do we Know that We Know What We Know? Appearances vs. Things-in-Themselves. Readings: (1) How Do We Know that We Know What We Know, (2) Concepts of the Understanding with Table of Judgments

18. Kant: The Ethical Imperative. The Good Will and Respect for Others. The Idea of Duty. Readings: (1) The Ethical Imperative. The Good Will and Respect for Others, (2) Kant's Formalism (Diagram), (3) Conditioned and Unconditioned Acts of Will (Example)

19. Discussion of Kant: Reading: Texts from Kant: The Categorical and Practical Imperative

20. Nietzsche: The Overcoming of Western Philosophy, Morality, and Science. Return to the Greeks. Reading: The Overcoming of Western Philosophy, Morality, and Science

21. Nietzsche: The Artist as a Child at Play. Innocence and Becoming (genesis and pthora). Reading: Textual Analysis of Nietzsche's View of Heraclitus

22. Kierkegaard: Truth Is Subjectivity. Reading: Truth Is Subjectivity and Beware of the Crowd

23. Dewey: Democracy and Imagination: The Practical Idealism of John Dewey. Readings:
(1) Experience, Education, and Democracy, (2)
Experience and Nature: Individuality and Association, (3) The Common Good and the Democratic Ideal, (3) Experience, Community, and Communication, (3) Contrasting Conceptions of Ancient (Aristotelian) and Modern Science

24. Dewey: Democracy and Imagination: The Practical Idealism of John Dewey. Readings:
(1) The Ideal of Democracy; (2)
Individuality, Liberty, and Equality, (3) Fraternity, Community, and Communication

25. The Buddhist Perspective. The Life and Teaching of Gautama. The self and its problems. Nirvana. Objectivity and Compassion. Readings: (1) The Life and Message of Gautama,
(2)
What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula, pp. 1 - 20; (3) Walpola Rahula: What the Buddha Taught (Draft Outline); (4) Theravada and Mahayana

26. Buddhism (continued). Readings: (1) What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula, pp. 21 - 36; (2) 52 Mental Formations, (3) Karma

27. Buddhism (continued). Readings: (1) What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula, pp. 37 - 65, (2) Eightfold Path (Summary)

28. Confucius: Humanity, Character, and Altruism. The Family, Society, and the Universe. Readings: (1) Humanity, Character, and Altruism; (2) Some Key Confucian Terms

29. The Writings of Confucianism: Readings: (1) The Doctrine of the Mean, (2) The Great Learning

30. The Writings of Confucianism: Reading: The Analects of Confucius

31. The Writings of Confucianism: Readings: (1) The Analects of Confucius, (2) The Book of Mencius

32. Taoism: Nature and Human Action as Spontaneous Emergence. Readings: (1) Nature and Human Action as Spontaneous Emergence, (2) Daode Jing [ Book of the Tao] Translated by Charles Muller, (3) Chuang-tzu (excerpts)

33. The Book of the Tao. Analysis and Commentary, Chapters 1 - 41. Readings: (1) Daode Jing [ Book of the Tao], Translated by Charles Muller; (2) Comments on the Book of the Tao: Chapters 1 - 41

34. The Book of the Tao. Analysis and Commentary, Chapters 42 - 81. Readings: (1) Daode Jing [Book of the Tao], Translated by Charles Muller; (2) Comments on the Book of the Tao: Chapters 42 - 81

35. Taoism, Zen Buddhism, and Art. Readings: The Gateless Gate


Direct inquiries and comments to:

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 Gordon L. Ziniewicz

Please note: These philosophical commentaries, though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L. Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text. One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission of the author.