Honors Introduction to Philosophy: Appearance, Reality and Hyperreality

The following is an interactive syllabus for Derek Stanovsky's Honors Introduction to Philosophy course taught at Appalachian State University for the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the University Honors Program.

Interactive Syllabus Course Requirements Resources and Links
Spring 1999, 11:00-11:50 MWF, I. G. Greer 118

Course Description:

Philosophy concerns itself with fundamental questions about ourselves and our world, such as: What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? What is the nature of reality? Is knowledge possible? This course provides an introduction to Western philosophy from ancient to modern and postmodern times through examinations of some of the major works that have provided influential and provocative answers to these questions including works by Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Baudrillard. The honors section of this course will emphasize questions concerning the distinction between appearance and reality and the ways philosophers have approached these questions from the shadows of Plato's cave to postmodern discussions of hyperreality and virtual reality. To facilitate this project, the class will make extensive use of an on-line, interactive syllabus along with other electronic philosophy resources and texts. By the end of the semester I hope we will be able to discuss some of the changes these new technologies have introduced into both the appearance and reality of the practice of philosophy as philosophy itself has changed from public dialogues to private meditations to virtual e-texts.


Along with a variety of electronic texts we will also be using the following books:

Course Requirements:

The most important requirements for this course are regular class attendance, participation, and preparation. You should come prepared to ask and answer questions and to discuss the readings each day. The formal grading requirements are as follows:

Class Participation, Two Papers, Two Exams, Final Symposium, each counting one-sixth of your final grade.

The class participation portion of your grade will be based on regular class attendance and participation as well as on periodic homeworks and in-class individual and small group assignments. In addition, you will be expected to participate actively in on-line discussions via e-mail. Two absences are allowed during the semester, each additional absence will lower your class participation grade by one letter grade. More than six absences and/or failure to complete any of the written assignments detailed below are grounds for failing this course.

There will be two 3-5 page papers. Late papers will be docked one-third of a letter grade for each day late. More information on these assignments will be made available later in the semester. This is a "W" designator writing course.

There will be two in-class essay exams during the semester. Make-up exams are not normally given. Exceptions may be made for genuine medical emergencies or other similarly serious personal difficulties, although in such cases the format of the exam may be changed.

There will be a final symposium during the regularly scheduled final exam period for this course where groups will present original projects. More information on this assigment will be made available later in the semester.

With regard to papers and all other assignments for this course, you are expected to know and follow the current ASU code of academic integrity.

Return to top of page

Resources and Links:

Remember, in addition to these web based resources there is another wonderful resource called the library. Use it. The brand new ten volume Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, edited by Edward Craig, is a helpful place to start and is available in the reference section of the Belk Library (B51 .R68 1998). Another helpful reference tool is the Philosopher's Index, also available in the reference section of Belk (B1 .P47). A guide to using the Philosopher's Index can be found here. Other helpful resources include:

Return to top of page

Interactive Syllabus:

M 1/11 Web Scaveger Hunt. E-mail me your answers to the following questions:

  1. What is your name and e-mail address?
  2. When is the first paper due for this class?
  3. What time does the Belk library close on Sundays?
  4. In approximately what year was the philosopher Heraclitus born?
  5. If you were to cite this web page in a bibliography, what would be the correct MLA format?
  6. What was the name of Plato's younger sister?
W 1/13 From Hesiod to Thales. F 1/15 Heraclitus. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY

W 1/20 Parmenides.

F 1/22 Zeno and Melissos. M 1/25 Socrates and Plato. W 1/27 Read Book VII of Plato's Republic, The Allegory of the Cave. An illustration of the cave can be found here.

F 1/29 Read Plato's Apology. Read this brief discussion of money in ancient Greece from Kelley Ross.

M 2/1 The Ancient Skeptics.

W 2/3 Read Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book I, Chapters I-XIII.

F 2/5 Class presentations on the Ten Modes. Read the appropriate sections from Chapter XIV.

M 2/8 Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book I, Chapters XVIII-XXIX and Chapter XXXIII.

W 2/10 Discussion.


M 2/15 René Descartes.

W 2/17 Homework: Are you dreaming now? How do you know? E-mail me your answer.

F 2/19 Second Meditation.

M 2/22 Third Meditation.

W 2/24 Fourth Meditation.

F 2/26 TBA


M 3/8 Fifth Meditation.

W 3/10 Sixth Meditation and the Synopisis.

F 3/12 Discussion / Review.


W 3/17 Friedrich Nietzsche.

F 3/19 Twilight of the Idols, Preface and The Problem of Socrates.

M 3/22 Twilight of the Idols, "Reason" in Philosophy and How the "Real World" Finally Became a Myth.

W 3/24 The Gay Science, sections 116-125, including "The Madman."

F 3/26 The Gay Science, sections 329-342, including "The Greatest Burden."

M 3/29 Discussion.



M 4/5 Ludwig Wittgenstein.

W 4/7 Philosophical Investigations, Part I, §65-123.

F 4/9 Philosophical Investigations, Part I, §143-155.

M 4/12 Philosophical Investigations, Part I, §243-341.

W 4/14 Derek Jarman, Wittgenstein: The Movie. Information on the film can be found at the Internet Movie Database.

F 4/16 Jarman concluded.

M 4/19 Discussion.

W 4/21 Review.


M 4/26 Jean Baudrillard.

W 4/28 Simulations, pp. 38-79.

F 4/30 Simulations, pp. 83- 102.

M 5/3 Simulations, pp. 103-159.

W 5/5 Discussion / Group Work.

Final Symposium During Regularly Scheduled Final Exam Period.

Return to top of page