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History of Philosophy




Admission Requirements

None. This is a compulsory course for all first-year LUC students.


This course is an historical introduction to philosophical ideas from both the East and West. The course will proceed from some of the earliest philosophical ideas in the ancient world and continue on to consider key developments in the medieval and modern periods. One of the key problematics in the kind of liberal arts and sciences program offered by LUC is that of the ways in which knowledge has been created, organized, and legitimized throughout history and across the world. To help initiate students into the process of thinking about how historical and cultural contexts have shaped what it means to be knowledgeable in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences—as well as the meaning and parameters of those categories themselves—this course considers how the shape and significance of critical ideas have changed over time and through space, and thus inspects the history of philosophy and science.

Course Objectives

This course depends heavily on group discussion of significant primary texts in the history of philosophy. Each class will begin with the instructor introducing the topics and readings for that day and offering an interpretation of the works being discussed. Students should join in the discussion at any time, asking questions, making suggestions, or making comparisons with other texts we have read. For each meeting, each student should mark out a short passage (one or two sentences) from the day’s reading that especially stood out.
Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate familiarity with, and evaluate, some major movements in the history of philosophy;

  • distinguish among key varieties and aspects of philosophical argumentation;

  • reflect on and examine both shared and diverse human experiences so that you recognize the similarities and differences across cultures as well as historical periods; and

  • comprehend the relevance of the past to your understanding of the present while coming to understand the perspective of your own cultural assumptions and values.

Mode of Instruction

Each teaching week of the course (Weeks 1 – 7, and 9 – 15) will consist of one 2-hour interactive discussion on the weekly topic, with reading and web-posts due prior to the meeting.
A BlackBoard site will support the course and provide for virtual interaction with the course material. Do check our course site regularly for up-to-date reading assignments, multi-media material, and announcements. For further details of how the course will proceed, see sections below on “Assessment” and “Weekly overview”.


Assessment: Participation and attentiveness in classroom discussions
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Ongoing

Assessment: Eight weekly 250-word web-postings
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Weeks 3 – 6, 10 – 13 (due by midnight before each class meeting via BlackBoard)

Assessment: One mid-term essay
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Week 9 (due on BlackBoard by Monday at noon)

Assessment: 24-hour take-home examination (two 800-1000 word essays)
Percentage: 30%
Deadline: Week 16 (exam script published on BlackBoard 24 hours before it is due on BlackBoard)


There is no set textbook for the course. Assigned readings will be made available on BlackBoard. While many of the primary texts are in the public domain, you may wish to purchase your own hard copies for future reference and reflection. For an introduction to philosophy, you may find the following general reference texts useful:

  • Nigel Warburton, A Little History of Philosophy (Yale University Press, 2011).

  • Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2010).

  • Joel Kupperman, Classic Asian Philosophy: A Guide to the Essential Texts (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Contact Information

Dr. Adam Buben (convener):

Weekly Overview

Week 1: Introduction to Philosophy (Presocratics)
Week 2: Plato and Socrates
Week 3: Platonic Forms
Week 4: Plato on the Soul
Week 5: Hindu Reincarnation
Week 6: Aristotle’s Four Causes
Week 7: Aristotle’s Mean
Week 8: [no classes]
Week 9: Confucian Virtues
Week 10: Epicurean & Stoic Tranquility
Week 11: Buddhist Enlightenment
Week 12: Augustine, Aquinas, and the ‘Baptizing of the Greeks’
Week 13: Descartes’ ‘I Think’
Week 14: Hume’s Skepticism
Week 15: Zen Openness
Week 16: [no classes]

Preparation for first session