MENLO SCHOOL • SINCE 1915

Philosophy (1S)

Biography

The unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates)

In this course, we examine such questions as: What is the meaning of life? The purpose of life? Who decides, and how do we do so? What is the connection between my mind and body (and soul?)? What does it mean to be an “authentic” person? How do I know whether God exists? Can this be proven? What is the role of belief and faith in examining this issue? What is art? What is good art? What do I know, and how can I know it? How does language frame our reality? In what way am I truly free to choose what I do? What factors influence my choices, i.e. advertising, nature & nurture, my DNA, etc.? What is “fairness”? How can we maintain a just and fair society? What does it mean to behave ethically? In exploring these and other issues the student will learn the approach taken by some of the greatest thinkers throughout history. From a skills perspective, philosophy students should expect to develop the ability to decipher the logical structure of an argument and, in doing so, determine whether an argument is both valid and cogent as well as to understand various logical fallacies and pitfalls. In addition, students will hone their ability to write clearly and creatively, defending their own position on various abstract “big picture” issues in both written and spoken form. The Honors Student will have three additional assignments throughout each semester involving taking on three subjects of their choosing. In addition, Honors Students will be required to write longer papers than other students, including a longer research-based paper at the end of the semester and more activity on an online Discussion Forum. First Semester Philosophy is primarily focused on exploring and understanding the landscape of the philosophical ideas throughout history.

Instructor: Mr. Bowen

Note: Honors option available to juniors and seniors.

Prerequisites: Open to juniors and seniors, and sophomores if space is available.