Spring 2020 - PHIL 300 E100

Introduction to Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 9011

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 4:30 PM – 7:20 PM
    WMC 3250, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2020
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    WMC 3210, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    At least 60 units.



An introductory course specifically intended for students in other departments who have at least 60 units. This course is more advanced than 100 and 200 division courses and is of interest to students not only in the humanities, but also in the natural and social sciences. This course does not count towards the upper division requirements for a student pursuing a minor, major, or honours program in philosophy. Normally, students with credit for PHIL 100 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


Suppose that one were of a reflective disposition, and wondered exactly what one's situation is in the world—to make sense of it—to ask “What's going on?” One immediately sees that the attempt to answer such a question raises more questions. Why are we here? What sort of place is here? What sort of things are we? What is our relationship to 'here'? What then would be the best way to go about being here, or go about living? Do we have a purpose for being here? If so, what is it? And is it related to how to live best? How can we know any of this?

In this course, we will adopt the attitude of the reflective inquisitor concerned to discover the nature of our circumstances. This will be accomplished by reading and discussing the writings of a number of Philosophers in the Western Cannon, who have all tried to answer some, and sometimes all, of these questions by a process of rational reflection. To begin, we will examine what is, perhaps, the most ready to hand answer to most, if not all, of these questions. Namely, that there is a God, who has created us and this world, and has laid down a set of rules for us to follow. However, this relatively simple, and perhaps inviting solution, is much more problematic than it might first appear. This lack of an 'easy' solution will serve as the impetus, as it has in the Western Philosophical Tradition, to consider more complex and nuanced ideas in order to make sense of ourselves, and our world.


PHIL 300 may be applied towards the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.

If you are a Philosophy Major or Minor: PHIL 300 will not count towards your upper division requirements. For everyone else: PHIL 300 will count as an upper division elective. 


  • Participation (a combination of attendance and in-class participation) 25%
  • Reading Reflections (5 of 6) 50%
  • Final exam - see note below 25%


NOTE: Due to Covid-19 pandemic, final exam is switched to take-home exam. 



Plato Five Dialogues 2nd edition G. M. A. Grube (Trans) Hackett 2002   ISBN-10: 0872206335 ISBN-13: 978-0872206335

Rene Descartes John Cottingham ed Meditations on First Philosophy Cambridge UP 1996   ISBN-10: 0521558182 ISBN-13: 978-0521558181

David Hume Dialogues and History of Natural Religion J. C. A. Gaskin ed oxford paperbacks 2009   ISBN-10: 0199538328 ISBN-13: 978-0199538324

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

Frederiche Nietzsche The Gay Science Bernard Williams ed.Cambridge UP 2001   ISBN-10: 0521636450 ISBN-13: 978-0521636452

Additional readings will be made available via Canvas.

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