PHIL 300 Introduction to Philosophy

Spring Semester 2013 | Evening | Surrey


INSTRUCTOR: S. Pollon (email:


We, as beings of a certain kind, are confronted with a world. How are we to come to grips with it? How are we to understand our place in this world? Is this all the doing of some higher power that we call God? Does God determine what is right and what is wrong? If not, how are we to determine what is right and what is wrong? How is it that we ought to go about living our lives? How could we know? Is much, or all, of our knowledge of the world already within us when we come into this world? Is learning actually possible? Is the world an illusion? Or in part illusory? Are our senses a trustworthy source of knowledge about the world? What sorts of things are we that could have knowledge on the world? Are we eternal souls? Or some fusion of an eternal soul and a body? Or might we simply be bodies? Can any sort of certainty be achieved with respect to any of these questions?

This course will be concerned with these questions. More specifically, this course will be concerned with various answers given to some, and sometimes all, of these questions at various points in time in what is commonly called the ‘Western Philosophical Tradition’. These accounts have all, in their way, attempted to provide their answers via the application of ‘Reason’. As such, in this course, we will be examining how these philosophers have applied ‘reason’ to these issues, and what answers these applications have yielded.


  • Plato and G.M.A. Grube Five Dialogues 2nd edition
  • Descartes, R. (John Cottingham ed.) Meditations on First Philosophy, 1996
  • Locke, J (P. Phemister ed.) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 2008
  • Hume, D. (J.C.A. Gaskin ed.) Dialogues and History of Natural Religion, 2009
  • Nietzsche, F. (B. Williams ed.) The Gay Science, 2001
  • Camus, A and J. O’Brien The Myth of Sisyphus, 2006


  • Participation - 10%
  • 1 Midterm Exam - 30%
  • 1 paper - 25%
  • 1 Final exam - 35%

Prerequisites: 60 credit hours. PHIL 300 may be applied towards the Breadth/Humanities requirement and the Certificate in Liberal Arts.

Note: This is an SFU NOW course.