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Dr. Scott Campbell

Philosophy Department
Golisano Hall 499
Office Hours: Tues 11 - 12, Wed 11:30 - 12:30 and by appointment


Spring 2013
Library - Media B 
Monday/Wednesday 4:00 - 5:15

The Liberal Arts (PHL/LST 375)

Required Texts

  • Nussbaum, M. Cultivating Humanity. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy, tr. V. Watts. (London: Penguin, 1999).
  • Wagner, D.L. The Seven Liberal Arts in the Middle Ages. (Photocopy-School Bookstore).
  • Lao-tzu. Tao Te Ching: A New English Version. (Perennial Classics, 2006).
  • Vyasa. Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation. (NY: Three Rivers, 2000).
  • Dreyfus, Hubert and Sean Dorrance Kelly, All Things Shining (New York: Free Press, 2012)
  • Readings on Reserve at the Library under my name

Course Description

This class is designed to answer the following question: What is the value of a liberal arts education? From the PHL 101 course, you are already familiar with the seven liberal arts and with how logic is a liberal art. This class will expand your knowledge of the traditional liberal arts. We will study the trivium: logic, rhetoric, and grammar as well as the quadrivium: arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and harmonics.

It is important to recognize that the idea of liberal arts has changed throughout time and that the idea of liberal learning is different in other cultures. Thus, the course will be divided into three sections: 1) The Liberal Arts Today, 2) Foundations of the Liberal Arts, and 3) Liberal Learning Across Cultures. In exploring these different perspectives on the liberal arts, you will have an opportunity to take account of the role of the liberal arts in your education here at Nazareth College and the role that they play in your own life.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing this philosophy course will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an awareness of the subject matter of the liberal arts.
  2. Articulate major concepts embedded in the 7 liberal arts.
  3. Provide written evidence of their appreciation for the historical context of intellectual problems and the historical development of those problems.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of philosophical modes of inquiry, with an emphasis on the practice of dialectic.
  5. Discuss the ideas of thinkers for the historical periods under study.
  6. Explain the concept of liberal learning or knowledge for its own sake.

***Each class will consist of both lecture and discussion.  It is imperative that you come to each and every class having read and prepared the assignments.


  1. Reading, reading, and more reading.  You must keep up with the homework assignments by doing all of the reading for each class.  Philosophical texts are difficult and you may have to read them two or three times in order to understand them.  If you quickly "do the reading" just before class or late the night before, your comprehension of the material is bound to be insufficient, and your grade will certainly reflect this.
  2. Quizzes: The number of quizzes will add up to 13.  Most of these will involve the analysis and interpretation of a passage from the texts we are reading. I will grade your work based on the depth and accuracy of your analysis, how well you connect the content of the passage to larger issues in the course, and on your ability to open up interesting questions and problems.  Others will involve peer review, analysis of secondary literature, and various other kinds of assignments. The best 10 grades that you receive on these assignments will account for 15% of your final grade.  Because of the number of quizzes and the fact that only 10 of the 13 grades will be used, there will be no make-up quizzes.
  3. A written final exam.
  4. Two critical analysis papers, 3 pages each.  Paper topics will be assigned.
    *** On the days that this assignment and your critical analyses are due, they must be brought to my office.  For every day that one of these is late, your mark will decrease by a half grade.  I will, however, take into consideration "unusual circumstances" which might delay the arrival of your work.
  5. Regular attendance and class participation.  If you do not show up for class you will not hear the lectures or the discussions.  If you do not know the material covered in the lectures and the discussions, you will have a very difficult time taking quizzes and exams. 

    Moreover, regular absence from class will result in a reduction in your final grade: you are allowed two and only two unexcused absences, after which your final grade for the class will decrease by a half grade (A- to B+ to B and so on) with every subsequent absence.  Note that an excused absence means that you have some official documentation, to be judged acceptable on a case-by-case basis, explaining why it was impossible for you to be in class on the day in question.  Family emergencies and significant illnesses fall into this category. 

    If you do miss a class, it is your responsibility to get the notes for that class from another student and then to make an appointment with me if you have questions about the material that was covered on that day. It is also your responsibility to call or email me ahead of time to let me know that you will not be in class.
  6. It is expected that you will remain in the classroom for the duration of every class.
  7. Your cell phone must be turned off and out of sight during class, along with any other noisy devices.  
  8. Active participation in class: a crucial component of this course.  Philosophical ideas need to be spoken out loud.  This is because you have to put them into your own words - you have to make them your own - in order to understand them.  Therefore, every day you must come to class prepared to discuss the reading for that day both with me and with your fellow students.  If you have difficulties speaking in class, then you must plan ahead and prepare comments and questions which will facilitate your making a contribution.  If you have or anticipate trouble speaking in groups, please see me as soon as possible.
  9. Dialectical journals: One of the important dimensions of this course is that you engage the ideas in the course through writing on a regular basis.  Each week, you need to write 2-3 paragraphs about the ideas we are discussing and reading about in class.  You then need to pass those paragraphs on to one of your colleagues, who will respond to what you have written and make their own insights into the texts.   I will ask to look at these periodically throughout the semester.  This assignment will not be graded, but it must be completed.  If you do not fully complete this assignment, your final grade will decrease by a full letter grade.


  • Weekly quizzes - 15%
  • First 3-5pp. paper - 25%
  • Second 3-5pp. paper - 30%
  • Final Exam - 30%

***You can see that there is no formal percentage for class participation. Nonetheless, I will raise or lower your final course grade by as many as 5 points based on the quality and quantity of your active participation, attentiveness, and alertness in class.

***Note that a passing grade in this course is a 60, which is a D-.

***If you have a special educational need which results from a documented learning disability, please see me after class or during my office hours as soon as possible so that I will be able to assist you better.


'The appropriation or imitation of the language, ideas, and thoughts of another author, and representation of them as one's original work' (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language).  Plagiarism, in any form, is a serious offense and will not be tolerated.  For the first assignment in which plagiarism is found, the result will be a failing grade for the assignment, and Academic Advisement will be notified.  If another instance of plagiarism is found, the student will receive a failing grade in the course.

Spring Semester 2013

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