Summer 2024 - PHIL 100W D100

Knowledge and Reality (3)

Class Number: 3546

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Tue, 12:30–2:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 13, 2024
    Tue, 7:00–10:00 p.m.



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 or PHIL 300 may not take this course for further credit. Writing/Breadth-Humanities.



There are many ways of introducing philosophy.  One of the clichés about the field is that it seeks to find the meaning of life.  Well, it turns out that, along with a lot of other questions philosophers have asked and attempted to answer, they do actually contemplate this global sort of worry. There is a good reason, then, to introduce philosophy by asking about life’s meaning.   In this course, we will look at some of the answers western philosophy has given to the question “What is the meaning or purpose of our existence?”, starting with paradigms set out in classical Greece and by some of the traditions of Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) and proceeding to several modern answers suggested in the 19th and 20th centuries.  We will also look at a few closely related “smaller” issues, such as the existence of God, the nature of happiness, the role of death in our lives, and what constitutes a person.


PHIL 100W may be applied towards the Writing Requirement and the Breadth-Humanities Requirement.

Videos: Why Study Philosophy? and Meet our professors!


  • Participation, including 7-10 short reading summaries 15%
  • First paper with revision 20%
  • Second paper with revision 30%
  • Final exam 35%


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.



All reading materials will be distributed through Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

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   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.