Fall 2021 - PHIL 100W E200

Knowledge and Reality (3)

Class Number: 7521

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 5:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2021
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM



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 Writing Requirement, and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.
Videos:  Why Study Philosophy? and Meet Our Professors!


  • Short essay (with revision) 20%
  • Longer Essay (with revision) 30%
  • Participation (attendance and contribution to class discussion both in terms of frequency and quality) 10%
  • Short written assignments 20%
  • Final Exam 20%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Online presence is required during scheduled lecture time.


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.



Students must have access to internet and a computer/other device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.


The Epicurus Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonials.  Trans and ed Brad Inwood and L.P. Gerson. Hackett 1994. ISBN: 978-0-87220-241-2

(Alternative, Public Domain versions of this content will be acceptable)

Plato, Five Dialogues 2nd Edition. G. M. A. Grube Trans. Hackett, 2002. ISBN: 978-0872206335

(Alternative, Public Domain versions of this content will be acceptable).

Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy. 2nd Edition. John Cottingham Trans. Ed. Cambridge UP, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-107-66573-6

Soren Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling Repetition. Ed and Trans Edward V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton UP, 1983. ISBN: 0-691-02026-4

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

New elective grade policy : P/CR/NC, pilot project for Spring/Summer/Fall 2021. List of exclusions for the new policy. Specifically for Philosophy: 

  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any requirement for a major, joint major, honours, or minor in Philosophy (with the exception of Honours tutorials).
  • Students can use a P or CR to satisfy any prerequisite requirement for any PHIL course.
  • Students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any requirement for the Ethics Certificate, or the Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate.
  • Philosophy Majors and Honours students can use a P (but not a CR) to satisfy any WQB requirement.

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.