Phil 593 – Early Analytic Philosophy

Fall 2000. Tuesdays 4:00-6:30pm in Philosophy Seminar Room (374 Bartlett)
Prof. Kevin Klement (Please call me “Kevin”.)


Syllabus

Course description:

This course is concerned with the emergence of analytic philosophy from 1879 to roughly 1925, and primarily on the works of Frege, Russell and the early Wittgenstein. The primary focus is on their theories in the areas of logic, metaphysics and the philosophy of language. Themes include the modern revolution in logic, the ontology of abstract objects, logical paradoxes, the nature of truth, the analysis of meaning and the increasing philosophical focus on language.

Contact info:

My office is 353 Bartlett Hall. My office phone is 545-5784. My office hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-3:30 and by appointment. I’m often in my office many other times. Feel free to drop by any time. You may also e-mail me at klement@philos.umass.edu or call me at home at 259-1154.

Texts:

The required texts for this course are The Frege Reader, by Gottlob Frege (edited by Beaney), The Principles of Mathematics and The Philosophy of Logical Atomism, by Bertrand Russell, and Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, by Ludwig Wittgenstein, which are available at Atticus Bookshop in downtown Amherst (and many places online), as well as a course packet available at Campus Design and Copy, in room 403 (2nd floor) of the Student Union.

Course Requirements:

Your final grade will be based on the following requirements, (1) in-class participation (15%), (2) one in-class presentation (20%), (3) weekly assignments (20%), and (4) a final term paper (45%).

Weekly Assignments: You are expected to carefully read the selected texts for each session before the seminar meeting and come prepared to discuss them. To help facilitate this, each week you are expected to write a 1-3 page essay in which you (1) briefly summarize the reading, (2) critically discuss the reading, highlighting views you found to be unclear, difficult to understand, or simply philosophically lacking, and/or discussing the views in the light of ongoing philosophical debates. These essays are due at the start of class on the day on which we will be discussing the relevant readings. You will be graded on 1-5 scale, with 1 representing a barely acceptable essay, 2 representing a deeply problematic essay, that misrepresents the views of the philosopher or philosophers in question or commits other abuses of philosophical method, 3 representing an essay that is slightly lacking in some area, but generally acceptable, 4 representing a good essay that performs the desired tasks as expected, and 5 representing an essay with substantial and original insight. (You should never expect to receive anything above 4. A student receiving a 4 on every assignment should still expect a good grade for this portion. I will only award a 5 to an essay that surpasses my expectations.) In determining your grade, I will take into account only your 10 highest scores of 12 possible essays. This means you may either drop your two lowest scores, or simply not write two essays (or combine the two options). You need not prepare an assignment for the week you will be presenting.

Presentation: Early in the semester, each student will choose (or be assigned) one week in which he or she is expected to give a (roughly) 15 minute presentation on the readings for that week, to be presented at the beginning of the seminar meeting. The presentation should (1) summarize the main points of the readings, though at his or her discretion the presenter may focus on certain issues he or she finds most interesting, (2) identify any questions or concerns the presenter has with understanding or interpreting the material, which he or she would like to discuss in class, (3) critically discuss one or more philosophical issues raised in the readings, as a starting point for seminar discussion.

Term Paper: Each student is prepared to write a 15-25 page term paper that aims to contribute something original to the discussion of any of the texts, philosophers or philosophical issues discussed in the course. The paper may be concerned either with the exegesis and interpretation of one or more of the philosophers studied, or with critical and original discussion of the philosophical issues raised by their works, or with some combination of the two. The amount of outside research done for the paper is left to your discretion. A careful look at the secondary material rarely hurts, but the your mastery of the secondary material will not loom large in my evaluation of the paper. The paper is due at the end of finals week.

See also the Reading Schedule and Course Pack Contents.

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