PHI 231: The Big Questions

"Beautiful E."
Bill Frisell

PHI 231 is the introductory course in philosophy at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  It is a survey course, and it focuses on the "big questions," which is to say that it focuses on the areas of philosophy that, traditionally speaking, have been seen as the most important: epistemology (the theory of knowledge), metaphysics (the theory of reality), and axiology (the theory of value).

This is the official course description: "This course introduces some of the big philosophical questions surrounding individuals and society.  What can I know for certain?  Who am I?  Is morality relative to culture?  Does God exist?  What is justice?  Why be good?  By way of answering these questions, students examine arguments about knowledge and belief, the nature of reality, freedom, ethics, aesthetics, personal identity and social justice."

These are the materials that we usually cover:

Plato, The Last Days of Socrates (London: Penguin Books, 2003)

René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (New York: Oxford World's Classics, 2008)

Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (New York: HarperPerennial, 2009)

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (Mineola: Dover Publications, 2007)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on Inequality (London: Penguin Books)

Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract (Ithaca: Cornell Univerity Press, 1997)

Here are some course-related media:

© Douglas Ficek