ASSIGNMENTS: Submit 5 Journals and 1 Paper to TurnItIn  Class ID: 28133576   Password: madness
5 journals (75%), each 500 words: on any of the topics in the syllabus, and each journal should contain and discuss at least 5 quotes from the textbook(s).
  • First, you need/create an account at Turnitin.com. (Instructional video here). 
  • See below FAQ #1: What is a journal and what is required? 
  • Each journal, at least 500 words, should contain reflective and critical commentary: the required components are listed below at FAQ. 
  • Aim to submit your journal(s) on or close to: Feb 8, Feb 22, Mar 8, Mar 22, Apr 5, Apr 19, May 3, and/or May 17, 2021.
  • I will be grading and commenting on any new submissions shortly after those dates listed above. 
  • You can expect to receive the feedback and grade on each journal in 2 weeks after submitting it.  
  • The feedback and grade will be posted directly on each submission uploaded from your TurnItIn account: look for the comments and number there.
  • There are five folders, Journal 1, Journal 2 ... in TurnItIn: simply submit each of your journals, accordingly. Just fill all five folders by May 17, 2021
  • You will not be penalized for letting go any earlier dates. The earlier you submit, the earlier you get my feedback and your grade, that's all. 
one 3,000 word paper (25%): on any topic(s) in the syllabus, in which you can expand on any of your 5 journals: due on May 17, 2021, the last day of class.
  • See below FAQ #3: What is required in a final paper?​
  • Structure: Your paper, structurally the same as the journal, will be an in-depth, critical analysis of a single chapter or multiple chapters of the textbook. If you wish, you can expand on any part of your journals. In any case, make sure all main quotes are from the textbook(s) and materials listed in the syllabus. Aim for about 15-20 direct quotes from the textbook(s) followed by your own critical reflection and conclusion.  
  • Citations: After you cover the basics as required, you can refer to any outside sources if they meaningfully contribute to the development of your core argument. Any such additions will result in some additional points earned too. Yet, the number of external quotes (quotes from outside the textbook) should be limited to 10. You will not be penalized for not using any external sources. Again, what really matters, your priority, is your closely studied reflection on the textbook. 
  • Draft Submission: You can submit a paper draft for quick feedback. ​Look for the folder and note the due date in TurnItIn. 

On the 100 point scale, each journal counts up to 15 points (15 x 5 =75 points) and the remaining 25 points are for the final paper.
If you have any alternative suggestions on your assignment plan, email me with a request and explain why you need or want a different approach. 

NOTES on the general method and evaluation criteria 
1. Writing-focused: read the textbook(s) at your own pace and focus on producing, ultimately, your final paper at the end. 
2. Feedback on your submission will be the main portal of communication between you and the instructor in this class. 
3. Upon request, a further individual guidance will be available through an occasional online meeting or ad hoc workshop: email me with a request. 
4. You are encouraged to review supplementary materials linked below (if any).
6. You are also encouraged to utilize and quote from any materials you found online as long as they are reasonably reputable sources and you reference them clearly. 
7. You are expected to work towards producing a "portfolio" of your own ideas and learning, given the wealth of information and specific prompts provided here. 

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Course Description          
An introduction to four major philosophical questions: What can I know for certain? Does God exist? How should I act toward others? What is justice? This analysis of the foundations of knowledge, religious belief, ethical theory, and social justice includes readings from Plato, Aristotle, St. Thomas, Descartes, Kant, Mill, and contemporary philosophers. 

Course Objectives           
To gain some basic understanding of philosophical ideas and methods by reading, debating and writing about some of the key texts and issues. 

Textbook(s)  
Kathleen Higgins and Robert Solomon, The Big Questions (Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2017). 10th Edition. ISBN-10: 1305955447 ​
Earlier editions are acceptable too. 

Recommended/Further Readings
​Any materials of your choosing, online or in print. 

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Contents/Sequence 

  • This asynchronous online course focuses on your individually-paced and oriented reading and writing. 
  • The textbook functions as the proxy guide in terms of both topical coverage and a set of study questions for you to choose to answer.
  • The book has 11 chapters and you choose at least 5, your own; your journal topics should come from the "opening questions" in the book, in any combination.
  • Any supplementary materials I might provide as we proceed, depending on your needs and feedback, will be posted below or on the course Blackboard. 

Good For General/Quick Introductions and Overviews: 
philosophize this!
philosophy bites
stanford encyclopedia of philosophy

Topic 01: Philosophical Questions
Topic 02: The Meaning of Life
Topic 03: God
Topic 04: The Nature of Reality
Topic 05: The Search for Truth
Topic 06: Self
Topic 07: Freedom
Topic 08: Morality and the Good Life
Topic 09: Justice and the Good Society
Topic 10: Beauty
Topic 11: Non-Western Philosophy

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FAQ

1. What Counts as a Journal? 

Study the textbook(s) carefully, especially the part/page/chapter of your choice, and write a well-condensed and composed entry containing all three elements: 
@ a succinct summary of the reading material or section of your choice 
@ a critical response to or close analysis of any crucial passage(s) which should also be clearly cited, and 
@ a conclusive elaboration of the significance of the topic and the passage(s) under discussion. 

Here are some samples: journals on "The Personal is Theoretical?" | Theoretical is Scientific? | "Naming Oppression and Position"
Also from previous classes: journals on Beauty | God/Faith/Philosophy 
These examples are simply a few illustrations. Aim for a comparable level of analytic, substantial and critical reading to earn an above-the-average grade.

Some writing tips: 
  • Try and "budget" words around each quote you intend to discuss and connect. You could start mechanically with around 70-80 words per paragraph. 
  • In this class, well-incorporated and thoughtful reflections on real life episodes as examples are more than welcome. In fact, they would be very interesting. 
  • Make sure you aim for quality, not quantity, and logical and engaging links among ideas, not just a series of fragmented thoughts merely bundled together.

1.1 What citational style should I use for the journals? 
​Any standard academic style such as APA/Chicago/MLA

1.2 Where do I submit a journal and how is it graded? 
Each journal should be submitted to Turnitin and will be graded and returned with comments within 2 weeks of submission.

1.3 Can I write multiple journals on a single figure? 
Yes. For instance, you can certainly write all of your five journals on one word or even a paragraph. What matters is the quality of your studied reflection and writing. 

1.4 Can I write more than five journals? 
No. Redirect your surplus energy to paper writing, your final paper. 

1.5 Can I rewrite my journals and resubmit them for better grades? 
OK. Up to 2 journals post-feedback. If your revision is evidently better, your final grade will be higher. I have created 2 additional folders for your optional revision. 

1.6 Can I just write down my own thoughts? Or does it have to be about what the textbook/an author says?
To clarify again, journaling here does not mean recording your own free-flowing thoughts in a loose rambling manner. It is not just to "write down my own thoughts, personal opinions or feelings." However, it does not mean, either, simply to summarize what the author/chapter/section of your choice said, although that is indeed very first step. What is required is a systematic combination of both what you have learned from the textbook and what you think about it in turn/response. 
      Journal writing in the academic context means the following, also as laid out above in a sequence: studying the textbook closely and comprehensively, and citing specific passages to a) explain and contextualize its core meaning further, b) argue for or against it or any specific parts of it through your own reasoning process with a view to 3) drawing a conclusion while showing why that analysis matters at all from a broader and wider perspective. Try to cover all those elements in sequence. So try to explain in the most specific, clearest and most precise terms what exactly you have understood, what exactly you find most illuminating, what exactly you find most agreeable or objectionable, etc., with a view to composing all that into a well-structured mini-essay. That is a journal. 
      Involved here is a fairly intensive intellectual exercise where you do have to "sweat" to try to get to the bottom of things. Each journal, when composed well, solidly, would become a mini-foundation or stepping stone for your future work.


2. What Are the Grading Criteria? 

Grading Scale 
97- A+
93- A
90- A-
87- B+
83- B
80- B-
77- C+
73- C
70- C-
67- D+
63- D
60- D-
Below 60 F (Fail)

On the 100 point scale, each journal counts up to 15 points (15 x 5 =75 points) and the remaining 25 points are for the final paper. 
  • Those regularly and actively participating in the blackboard discussion could earn an extra credit up to 10, but no one will be losing points for not participating. 
  • Grades are non-negotiable unless there is a clerical error. 

Grade A: Mastery of the issues and literature, and an ability to make some original contribution. 
Grade B: Good grasp of issues and literature, but little or no attempt at own contribution. 
Grade C: Some but uncertain grasp of the issues. 
Grade D: Failure to grasp issues but some attempt made. 
Grade F: Not even trying. 


3. What are the Basic Requirements for the Final Paper? 
  • Topic: any figure(s)/chapter(s)/topic(s) of your choice from the textbook(s): if you have any other specific suggestions, discuss them with me first for approval. 
  • Primary Source: textbooks ("required texts") and links on this syllabus page: you are required to study and cite from the primary materials.
  • Outside Sources: print or internet-based, in any combination, supplementary (not required), limited to 10; any reference, a url, a chapter, or a book, counts as 1. 
  • You will not be penalized for not using any external sources of your choice but will be penalized for not using the required primary source.
  • If your additional, supplementary sources contribute meaningfully to your overall argument, you will earn some additional points, accordingly. 
  • Bibliographic Format: any standard academic style such as APA/Chicago/MLA
  • The deadline: the last day of class: firm

3.1 So basically, the final paper is an expanded version of a journal? 
Yes, structurally, the set of requirements for the final paper is the same as that for a journal. You go deeper and further in your analysis of the set of topic(s) of your choice, and your paper should have one overriding topic around which every sub-topic is organized and systematically connected.  

3.2 Can I incorporate my own journals into my final paper by literally reusing some passages? 
Yes. Your paper could certainly expand on some of the key points in your own journals also by importing some sections, as long as your paper as a whole makes sense.

3.3 Do I have to cite from "outside sources"? 
No. You do not have to study anything else than the course material, i.e., the primary source (=the textbook and the materials shown on the class website). Studying the course material and show the full evidence of it should be your primary activity if you wish to pass this course. A final paper that does not directly engage the course material will earn a zero grade: you will not be earning that 25% set aside for the final paper. To confirm: the focus of my evaluation would be on your understanding of and analytic engagement with the course material. Make sure to cover that first. After doing that, on the secondary level, you can certainly incorporate your own findings into your final paper, if that enriches or reinforces your argument, but in any case, as specified above, the outside sources should be no more than 10. Meaningfully well-incorporated outside sources will be recognized and rewarded in the grade for the paper. 

3.4 Can I submit a draft paper for a quick comment and preliminary grade before submitting the final version?
Yes. I have created an optional "draft submission" folder in Turnitin for that purpose. The deadline for this is two weeks before the final paper deadline and I will do my best to return the feedback at least a few days before the final deadline. 

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Statement of College Policy on Plagiarism
"Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else‘s ideas, words, or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one‘s own creation. Using the ideas or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. It is the student‘s responsibility to recognize the difference between statements that are common knowledge (which do not require documentation) and restatements of the ideas of others. Paraphrase, summary, and direct quotation are acceptable forms of restatement, as long as the source is cited. Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The Library has free guides designed to help students with problems of documentation." (From the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Bulletin, p. 36)
Should plagiarism be determined, a formal disciplinary action will be taken immediately: the student in question will receive an F grade for the course.

Accommodation of Religious Observances
Upon request, academic accommodations for a religious observance are available on an individual basis; by the end of the second week, please provide me with a supplementary document that specifies and verifies your context and needs for modification. 

Accommodation of Documented Disabilities
Please contact me within the first two weeks of the semester. An appropriate, case-by-case arrangement will be made to ensure that the student in question is given an
 equal opportunity for learning. 


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PHI 231. The Big Questions
Prof. Kyoo Lee, 524 West 59th St. Rm 8.63.15, Dept. of Philosophy, John Jay College, CUNY
Office Hours: By Appointment 
kylee@jjay.cuny.edu