College of San Mateo


Introduction to PhilosophyCSM Logo with Link to college

David G. Danielson contact

Dave’s Home Page

Philosophy Department Web Page


Course Info




Other Resources


Grading Info

Course Description

This class is an introduction to the discipline of philosophy. We will examine theories of the Self, knowledge, ultimate reality and how these relate to several fundamental philosophical questions. We wil also discuss the relation of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

pIn addition to lectures, class time will be spent in discussions, some of which will focus on readings in the Readings in Philosophy text.


For a copy of the Syllabus click here. 9am MWF, 12pm MW, 8am TTH, 9:45am TTH

Homework Update MWF class, MW Class, TTH classes

Logic Handout

Logic Worksheet

Writing Center Workshops

ESL Workshops

Article on Writing

How to write a summary.

Grammar Help

i.e. and e.g.


Common Misspellings

Using the Apostrophe

Who and Whom




[back to the top]




  Readings in Philosophy: This will be our main text. It is in your best interest to bring it to class for each session that we are discussing a reading. We will be reading approximately one selection every week.


A podcast of Edward Craig speaking on "What is Philosophy?"

Monty Python's Argument Clinic

Samantha Bee - Rikers Island Debate

Philosopher's Mail

Reading Books vs. Online

Paulo Freire

If you need a copy of this article, read it here.

Freire Freire Handoutr

Read the following essay by John Taylor Gatto titled Against School 

Sugatra Mitra applying Freire's ideas in this TED talk         It's amazing!                    

Sir Ken Robinson: TED Talk - Schools Kill Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson Changing Education Paradigms
Mark Morford wrote an article in the S.F. Chronicle. What do you think?

Here is a review of the Rock Band: Guitar Hero III

Carol Dweck on Mindset

The movies "Freedom Writers" and "Stand and Deliver" demonstrate how Freire's ideas can be put into practice. You may also want to watch Randy Pausch's Final Lecture. It's inspiring. Here is a commencement charge he gave to graduates shortly before his death.

Here is Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement in 2005.

Taylor Mali, Slam Poet, Teacher What Teachers Make

John Legend's commencement address at University of Pennsylvannia May 2009

Multitasking Article

Frontline program on For Profit Colleges

Unleash Your Creative Genius

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Test

Pre - Socratic Philosophers

Tom Lehrer’s Periodic Table Song

Dave's notes on the Pre-Socratic Thinkers.




{How Algorithms Shape OurWorld}

How to Fall in Love with Math NYT article

Dave's notes on Heraclitus and Parmenides, the Sophists and Socrates




Video: Achilles and the Tortoise

Sandy LaFave on Open and Closed Concepts

Why Men Fail


Plato Handouts There are on line versions of the Republic. The specific parts we read are at the end of Book 6, VI, and the beginning of Book 7 VII.  We read the Divided Line and the Myth of the Cave. Here

(The location above has the entire 6th book of the Republic. We read the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 7th book. The text below is where we start reading. Read to the end of the 6th book and then start the 7th – the allegory of the cave.  
Still, I must implore you, Socrates, said Glaucon, not to turn away just as you are reaching the goal; if you will only give such an explanation of the good as you have already given of justice and temperance and the other virtues, we shall be satisfied.
Yes, my friend, and I shall be at least equally satisfied, but I cannot help fearing that I shall fall, and that my indiscreet zeal will bring ridicule upon me. No, sweet sirs, let us not at present ask what is the actual nature of the good, for to reach what is now in my thoughts would be an effort too great for me. But of the child of the good who is likest him, I would fain speak, if I could be sure that you wished to hear--otherwise, not.

In the 7th book read until you finish the following.
Observe, Glaucon, that there will be no injustice in compelling our philosophers to have a care and providence of others; we shall explain to them that in other States, men of their class are not obliged to share in the toils of politics: and this is reasonable, for they grow up at their own sweet will, and the government would rather not have them. Being self-taught, they cannot be expected to show any gratitude for a culture which they have never received. But we have brought you into the world to be rulers of the hive, kings of yourselves and of the other citizens, and have educated you far better and more perfectly than they have been educated, and you are better able to share in the double duty. Wherefore each of you, when his turn comes, must go down to the general underground abode, and get the habit of seeing in the dark. When you have acquired the habit, you will see ten thousand times better than the inhabitants of the den, and you will know what the several images are, and what they represent, because you have seen the beautiful and just and good in their truth. And thus our State which is also yours will be a reality, and not a dream only, and will be administered in a spirit unlike that of other States, in which men fight with one another about shadows only and are distracted in the struggle for power, which in their eyes is a great good. Whereas the truth is that the State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.


An animated video of Plato's cave.

The School of Athens Raphael’s Painting

Here is a podcast describing Plato's Cave

Child Prodigy Playing Piano

Here is an essay on Education and Play in Plato's writing.


Here are some links to help explain Aristotle's ideas

General Info

Aristotle's Metaphysics and Psychology

The State of Psychology - Martin Seligman

Martha Nussbaum on Aristotle Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Aristotle Handout on Virtue Ethics

Physicist Speaking at your Funeral by Aaron Freeman, first read on "All Things Considered" NPR in June 2005.

Jon Stewart interrogating Chris Matthews on the Daily Show

Lawrence Hinman, Univerity of San Diego speaking on Aristotle's Ethics

A podcast on Aristotle's concept of Happiness

David Brook's Where the Wild Things Are

Archived interview with William Irvine on Stoic Happiness

An Article on the Goodness of Human Nature

Shop Class as Soulcraft: an article worth reading.

Rene Descartes

Descartes Handout

A podcast on Descartes' Cogito argument.

A podcast on Descartes' Meditations


(Read the first and second meditation.)
Descartes's Meditation 1
Descartes's Meditation 2

A podcast on the modern Mind/Body problem by Tim Crane.

Sandy LaFave's comments on Descartes' Meditations, Substance Dualism, the fallacies of Composition and Division

David Hume

Hume Hume Handout

Background on Hume

An very interesting talk comparing the use of reason with a more emotional/psychological persepctive. Pinker and Newberger-Goldstein

The Paradox of Choice - Barry Schwartz

Alison Gopnik's article on Hume and Buddhism

Here is a cool photo of a chalk drawing.   Another

This is another.    And a side view to prove it’s flat.

On line section is HERE. Scroll down and read SECT. VI. Of Personal Identity

Here is an experiment click on the following site. Your task is to count the number of times the people pass the basketball. Come to class and give me the correct number for extra credit.  (On your honor watch the video only once.) HERE

There are a two Television programs which looked at perception and memory which are worth watching. They have multiple parts.

Karl Marx

Read this background information on Marx's ideas.

Marx Marx Handout 

Here is an online version of the reading

An excellent analysis of Marx is Here. (It contains a link to the text we read.)

Here is a podcast of Jonathan Wolff speaking on Marx's concept of Alientation.

Here is a link to the Sadler Report of 1832 which examined the working conditions for children in factories.

Jon Stewart comparing College Athletics and Workers

Advertising Films

Consuming Kids

The Persuaders

The Merchants of Cool

Advertising and the End of the World

Generation Like



Mindwalk video (If you miss the film in class, watch it here.)

Mindwalk Video Mindwalk Handout

HERE is a link to Fritjof Capra’s web page.

Leonard Shlain's Book Art and Physics (Find it here.)

Shlain lecturing on Art and Science

Tiffany Shlain's film Connected


William Ophuls

Ophuls Handout No online links to this text

This is an amazing film entitled "Home"

From tree to shining tree podcast. It tells the story of fungal networks - you'll never look at trees the same!

Two Ways of Knowing Robin Wall Kimmerer Scientific and Native American Views on the Natural World

Our Poisoned Water

Nuclear Bomb Quantity

Plastic Island in the Pacific

TED Naomi Klein: Addicted to Risk

Neil Postman interview on his book Technopoly

The Corporation, a documentary.

R.D. Laing

Laing Laing Handout

There are no online links to this text. There is a site devoted to his ideas HERE

Adam Curtis has two documentaries worth watching as background. The first is Pandora's Box episode 2 "To the Brink of Eternity" and "The Trap" part 1 explicitly discussing Laing's ideas.

The Moral Life of Babies

Zimbardo interview

Milgram experiment

Jean-Paul Sartre

Here is a link to the text we will be reading.

Existenialism is a Humanism

Simone de Beauvoir

Here is a link to the text we will be reading.

The Second Sex: Introduction

How to Attract Female Engineers

Be Like a Girl

Interview with Simone de Beauvoir 1975

The Media Has a Woman Problem NYT 4/27/14

Germaine Greer

Greer GreerHandout

Here is an online source for the reading.

Germaine Greer and Estelle Morris Interview

From Siri to Sexbots

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's ideas in his book Flow

Edward DeBono

Buffy vs. Twilight Video

Why Women Leave Science

Joss Whedon on the the word "Feminist"

40th Anniversary of The Female Eunich

Derailing for Dummies

Marian Diamond UCB Professor of Anatomy

Girls Lacking Confidence

Rachel Maddow on Sexual Harassment

Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard Handout

Here is a site to help explain Truth is Subjectivity.

And this is an article explaning Truth is Subjectivity.

Links on Kierkegaard

Eknath Easwaran's Penguin Story (click back a couple of pages to the beginning.) It captures the leap of faith concept.

Indiana Jones' Leap of Faith "The Last Crusade."

D.T. Suzuki

Suzuki Handout     Yogi Laser

The Buddha a new documentary.

Compassion Cultivation Training

More Mandala Construction

Train Your Mind; Change Your Brain Matthieu Ricard giving a Google Tech Talk

A TED talk on Games (The task is to figure out how it relates to Buddhism.)

"This is Water" David Foster Wallace's commencement address to Kenyon College.

Adyashanti Interview

Adyashanti Home Page

Ramana Maharshi Video

Circle of Iron

Peace Pilgrim Website

Peace Pilgrim in a College Classroom

Peace Pilgrim Documentary Video

A real nice analogy

[back to the top]

Required Materials

Required: Readings in Philosophy, James Ogilvy, Jerry Gill, Melvin Rader
This is our central textbook. It contains original sources without much explanation. The explanations and discussions occur in class.

Recommended: How to Get the Most out of Philosophy, James Soccio (ABE Books)
**This is a very helpful book for a first time philosophy student!**

Recommended: Looking At Philosophy, Donald Palmer, 3rd ed. (ABE Books) This is a brief, easy to read history of Western Philosophy. It will augment the lectures and readings. Not all of our readings are discussed, but students find it an invaluable resource.

You will need to choose and read one of the following. It is best to start reading soon in the semester in order to gain the maximum experience from the reading. You will be held accountable for the material in the book before the final exam.


1. Recommended: The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You, Dorothy Bryant (ABE Books)

2. Recommended: The Island Aldous Huxley(ABE Books)

3. Recommended: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig (ABE Books).

4. Recommended: Between the World and Me, Coates (ABE Books)

5. Recommended: Resilience, Greitens (ABE Books)

6. Recommended: An Unknown Woman, Alice Koller ( ABE Books)

7. Recommended: The Monk and the Philosopher, Revel and Ricard (ABE Books)

Past Books Used: If you want to choose one of these, talk with me.

a. Recommended: The Story of B, Daniel Quinn (ABE Books)
There is a website devoted to related issuesHERE

b. Recommended: Shop Class as Soulcraft, Crawford (ABE Books)

c. Recommended: Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder (ABE Books)

d. Recommended: A Language Older Than Words, Derrick Jensen(ABE Books)
Derrick Jensen has a website with more of his writing.

NEW Here is a recent article which refers to Daniel Quinn and Derek Jensen

Philosophy Journal

You will also need to keep a philosophy journal. We will be discussing this in class regularly. The 1st 10 minutes of class will be spent writing. The initial assignment can be downloaded here.Journal

There is also a website devoted to The Work of Byron Katie. It's well worth looking at for a way to avoid suffering.

  [back to the top]

Other Resources

We are lonesome animals. We spend all of our life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say-and to feel- ‘Yes, that is the way it is, or at least that is the way I feel it.’ You’re not as alone as you thought. —John Steinbeck

Movie Night Flyer

Movie Night Questions

Feb. 2nd

March 2nd

April 6th

May 4th


 Old Movie Nights

Below are some websites that may be of help during the semester. There are other sites mentioned in the Soccio text.

This is a link to a Philosophy Encyclopedia.

This is a link that has a comprehensive list of philosophy websites.

This link connects you to Philosophy Texts on the Web.

A paper on Synesthesia on the Psyche online journal of consciousness HERE

PeacePilgrim link

Here is a link to my Humanities 125 video page

A couple of good reads

Eric Schlosser on Tomato Pickers

Jon Carroll on Activism

Christmas Gift Exemption Voucher

 [back to the top]


A good reference on Plagiarism is located HERE


 [back to thetop

Philosophy Department
Date of last update 1/11/18
Direct Questions or comments about this page to
This page was developed and is maintained for the Collegeof San Mateo by the Philosophy Dept.