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PHIL 10 / Sections 4 & 5 / Spring 2005



Instructor: Dr. Bo Mou

Time & Place: Monday & Wednesday / Section 4: 10:30-11:45; SH239 / Section 5: 12:00 –13:15; BBC004

Office Hours: (1) Regular Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday 14:00-14:30 and 17:30 – 18:30. (2) If you are unable to make these times, we can schedule a time that is convenient for you.

Office: FO 225

Phone: (408) 924-4513



Required Textbook:

Course Reader: Introduction to Philosophy—A Comparative Approach in View of Western and Chinese Philosophy [ CR].

Course Description:

This course presents an introduction to philosophy by examining some significant philosophical issues and concerns in epistemology, metaphysics and ethics and evaluating some representative approaches in ancient and contemporary times. We take a comparative approach in view of two major philosophical traditions, Western and Chinese philosophies, instead of taking this course as merely introduction to Western (or Chinese) philosophy. The course has two objectives: (1) to develop the capacity to think critically, to look at things in a broad and dynamic way, and to apply philosophical methods to deal with philosophically important issues and other intellectual problems; (2) to appreciate various distinct philosophical insights, visions, points of views, their arguments and their historical and/or cultural contexts where they developed so as to construct one’s own philosophical world view.

Prerequisite: No.

Instruction Format: Lecture, class discussion, and small group discussion.

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance, timely and careful completion of reading-assignments prior to their lecture or discussion in class, earnest and reflective fulfillment of written assignments, and active participation in discussion are expected for the successful learning process.

1.   Writing Assignments

(1)    One critical analysis report of group discussion Results: 5%

(2)    One master-presentation writing handout: 5%

(2)    Term Paper: 20% 

2.   In-Class Examinations

(1)    First Midterm Exam: 15%

(2)    Second Midterm Exam: 15%

(3)    Final Exam: 30%

3.   Class participation: 10%


In its “GE Guidelines Spring 1998,” the SJSU Board of General Studies specifies the writing requirement for general education courses like Philosophy 10 as follows: “Letters courses will enable students to such works [significant works which illuminate enduring human concerns] by writing both research-based critical analyses and personal responses; and write clearly and effectively.”

To meet the preceding GE writing policy, each student is required to write: (i) one term paper (4-5 typewritten double-spaced pages with 1 inch margin and font size 12; about 250 words each page); (ii) one critical-analysis report on group discussion result (about 250-300 words on 1 typewritten double-space page with 1 inch margin and font size 10 or 12); (iii) one master presentation writing handout which highlights the major points of your presentation and gives brief explanation of the points and concepts involved (1 typewritten single-space page with 1 inch margin and font size 10 or 12); (iv) in-class writings for the three examinations (equivalent to 4 pages total).

For how to do philosophical writings, see Appendix (4) “Guidelines for Philosophical Writings” in the Course Reader.  Writing will be assessed for correctness, clarity and conciseness.

Out-of-Class Writing Assignments

Critical-Analysis Report on Group Discussion Result

Each of these gives your critical analysis of your group discussion result for the assigned question(s). This is not a mere record of what the participants in the group discussion said. The student needs to do the following critical analysis: (i) give a concise summary of the group discussion result (the conclusion(s) and why your group thinks so); (ii) give your own critical evaluation and comments on the group discussion result. The critical-analysis writings are due by noon (12:00) of Friday immediately after Wednesday on which the group discussion is conducted; they are expected to submit via email attachment (MS Word file) by the above due time.

Term Paper

This is the main philosophical writing of each student. The topic will be assigned three weeks before the due date. The paper should show use of library resources (e.g., books or journal articles) through making at least two citations in the text and giving their full references in endnotes. It should be around 4-5 pages. The submitted paper is due in hard copy in class-meeting time; the electronic version is not accepted.


Both midterm and final exams will combine multiple choice, short answer questions and essay questions except that students will have two hours to complete the final exam. The instructor will supply a study guide a week before each of the exams.

Late Papers and Missed Assignments

Papers that are one class session late will be demoted 5%; papers that are later will receive a 10% cut. Exceptions are made if you have a doctor’s note or if you have been given a prior extension. Students who miss a mid-term will need a serious excuse (e.g., a doctor’s note) and to schedule a make-up exam.

Academic Dishonesty: Plagiarism is wrong. Never turn in another person’s work as your own and never present material taken directly from a book, journal or the Internet without putting quote marks around it and giving an endnote crediting the author.

Class Participation

The student’s active class participation consists of the following: (i) Attending scheduled classes regularly (two bonus points will be given for perfect attendance; one bonus point will be given for only-one-class-missing attendance); (ii) Asking questions in class or volunteering answers to philosophical questions raised by classmates or instructors; (iii) Being active in group discussions; and (iv) earnestly completing in-class oral presentation of your group-discussion report amd a master in-class presentation at the "Discussion Forum" on May 11 and 16.

Help from Logic and Philosophy Lab

You are encouraged to visit the Logic and Philosophy Lab (FO 231; 924-4466) where graduate students of philosophy on duty shall be glad to help you with advice about philosophical writings (criticism and construction of arguments and explanation). You can bring in your philosophical writings for their comments before you submit them.