Fall 2019 - PHIL 100W E200

Knowledge and Reality (3)

Class Number: 4809

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    HCC 1425, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 8, 2019
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    HCC 2270, Vancouver



An introduction to some of the central problems of philosophy. Topics to be discussed include the different theories of reality; the nature and sources of knowledge, truth, evidence, and reason; the justification of belief and knowledge about the universe. These topics and problems will be considered as they arise in the context of issues such as: relativism versus absolutism; the existence of God; personal identity; the nature of the mind and its relation to the body; free will and determinism; the possibility of moral knowledge. Open to all students. Students with credit for PHIL 100 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.


Philosophy is often thought to be the quintessential theoretical, non-practical, discipline, pursuing questions that do not admit of easy answers, if they admit of any answers the living could acquire. For example: What is the relationship between our minds and our bodies? What is the fundamental nature of the world? Could we know this nature given the mental capacities we possess? Is there a world ‘out there’ beyond our own minds? Does my mind persist in some manner after I die? 
It is not an accident that Socrates, a founding figure of Western Philosophy, was parodied by ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes in his work “The Clouds,” in which Socrates enters the world of the play via an airborne basket—out of touch with the world below. 
However, the inciting motivation for philosophical reflection was a practical one. Such reflections were undertaken in order to achieve mental tranquility and comfort amidst our seemingly difficult, discomfiting, often unhappy lives. 
In this course we will discuss a number of philosophical works that have addressed many of the core questions motivating philosophical reflection, some of which have also offered explicit advice on how to properly orient one’s self toward the world and thereby avoid the unhappiness to which we are so prone.


PHIL 100W may be applied towards the Certificate in Liberal Arts, the Writing Requirement and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.


  • Short essay (with revision) 20%
  • Longer essay (with revision) 30%
  • Final exam 20%
  • Short written assignments 20%
  • Participation (a combination of attendance and in-class participation) 10%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of your submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testemonials.  Trans and ed Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson. Hackett 1994. 
ISBN: ISBN: 978-0872202412

Plato Five Dialogues 2nd edition G. M. A. Grube (Trans) Hackett 2002 
ISBN: ISBN: 978-0872206335

Rene Descartes John Cottingham ed Meditations on First Philosophy Cambridge UP 1996.   ISBN: 978-0521558181

Soren Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling Repetition. Ed and Trans Edward V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton UP, 1983.   ISBN: 978-0691020266

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html