Philosophy

An Innovative Introduction: Fictive Narrative, Primary Texts, and Responsive Writing


Michael Boylan; Charles Johnson

First Edition • February 1, 2010 • 368 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813344485 • $55.00 USD$89.99 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813391786 • $36.99 USD$42.99 CAN

Courses:

More by these authors: ,

Order an Exam or Desk Copy


This new book features a unique, engaging approach to introduce students to philosophy. It combines traditional readings and exercises with fictive narratives starring central figures in the history of the field from Plato to Martin Luther King, Jr. The book makes innovative use of compelling short stories from two writers who have prominently combined philosophy and fiction in their work. These narratives illuminate pivotal aspects of the carefully selected classic readings that follow. This gives students two ways to understand the philosophical positions: through indirect argument in fiction and through direct, deductive presentations. Study questions and writing exercises accompany each set of readings and help students grasp the material and create their own arguments.

Michael Boylan received a Masters in English and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is professor of philosophy at Marymount University. He is the author of numerous articles and books on philosophy and literature, including The Extinction of Desire; The Good, the True, and the Beautiful; and Critical Inquiry (Westview Press).

Charles Johnson earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is the S. Wilson and Grace M. Pollock Professor of English at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is a 1998 MacArthur Fellow and the 2002 recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He received the 1990 National Book Award for his novel Middle Passage.

CONTENTS

Preface
Glossary

Part 1: Direct and Indirect Discourse in Philosophy

1. Direct and Indirect Discourse in Philosophy
Reading and Discussion Questions

2. How Can I Respond to Claims Using Direct Logical Discourse?
Reading and Discussion Questions

3. How Can I Respond to Claims Using Indirect Fictive Narrative Discourse?
Reading and Discussion Questions

Part 2: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

4. Plato
Short Story: “The Cynic,” Charles Johnson
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Plato, “The Myth of the Charioteer”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Plato, Crito
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

5. Aristotle
Short Story: “Aristotle the Outsider,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Aristotle, “The Nature of Mind”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

6. Buddha
Short Story: “Prince of the Ascetics,” Charles Johnson
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: “From the Dhmmapada”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

7. Aquinas
Short Story: “The Murder of Thomas Aquinas,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Thomas Aquinas, “On the Natural Law”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

MIDTERM PROJECT

Part 3: Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

8. Descartes
Short Story: “The Queen and the Philosopher,” Charles Johnson
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: René Descartes, “Finding a Foundation for Knowledge”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

9. Kant
Short Story: “Kant Awakened,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Gottfried Leibniz, “On Geometrical Method and the Method of Metaphysics”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Christian Wolff, “Three Types of Human Knowledge”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: David Hume “Of the Academical or Skeptical Philosophy”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Immanuel Kant, “The Possibility of Metaphysics”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

10. Marx
Short Story: “A Game of Chess in Paris,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: G.W.F. Hegel, “Preface”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: G.W.F. Hegel, “Lordship and Bondage”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: G.W.F. Hegel, “Morality and the Ethical Community”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Karl Marx, “Alienated Labor”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Karl Marx, “Private Property and Labor”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

11. Heidegger and Arendt
Short Story: “Eichmann and Heidegger in Jerusalem,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Martin Heidegger, “The Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises
Primary Text: Hannah Arendt, “An Expert on the Jewish Question”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

12. Murdoch
Short Story: “An Accidental Woman,” Michael Boylan
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Iris Murdoch, “Ludwig’s Conundrum”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

13. King
Short Story: “Dr. King’s Refrigerator,” Charles Johnson
Reading and Discussion Questions
Fictive-Narrative Philosophy Feedback
Primary Text: Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Reading and Discussion Questions
Class Exercises

FINAL PROJECT

Appendix: Some Philosophy Games
About the Authors
Credits and Acknowledgments
Index

“Boylan and Johnson return philosophy to its original home—the story. By blending narrative with other philosophical discourses, they create an approach that engages ambiguity in order to attain wisdom.” —Marc Conner, Washington and Lee University

Philosophy: An Innovative Introduction is an exciting book that promises to invigorate courses in philosophy, ethics, and the humanities. Building on the categories of direct and indirect discourse, the authors offer a robust conception of ‘fictive narrative philosophy’—one that treats seriously the power of fiction in philosophical discourse. The authors’ innovative approach pairs the philosophies of major figures such as Plato, Kant, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with short stories that engage those figures in thought-provoking ways. The result is that the philosophical tradition is brought to life for students as abstract ideas become vivid and compelling.” —Linda Furgerson Selzer, Penn State University

“This unusual introduction to philosophy has broad appeal without sacrificing intellectual rigor.” —Felicia Nimue Ackerman, Brown University

“In the acknowledgements Charles Johnson quotes Camus, ‘If you want to be a philosopher, write novels.’ While an extravagant claim, Boylan and Johnson have conceived and brought to life an ‘innovative’ new introductory philosophy text that richly demonstrates what Camus calls for. The text’s historical approach supplements the usual philosophers with multicultural, more inclusive works by Buddha, Arendt, Murdoch and M. L. King. It offers numerous helpful aids for the classroom, but most importantly it uniquely blends traditional philosophical argumentation with provocative fictive narratives (stories) that promise to engage students more fully, thus bringing philosophy alive in ways more traditional texts can only approximate.” —Richard E. Hart, Bloomfield College

Philosophy: An Innovative Introduction is a tour de force. Combining original philosophical texts with fictional narratives in the form of original stories written by the authors themselves, the elders of our collective tribal wisdom such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Buddha, Heidegger and more contemporary philosophers as Iris Murdoch and Hannah Arendt, come alive. They walk amongst us and talk to us their extraordinary thoughts in that ordinary a way that we would expect of them if we happened to meet them at our local café or tavern. In Boylan’s and Johnson’s words, the most intricate arguments of these eminent philosophers become engaging conversations in which we are invited to participate not as mere intellectual observers but as active participants. Designed not only to inform but also to stimulate our feelings and imagination, the creative imagery of the fictional stories accompanying the philosophical texts succeed in instantly transporting us to the everyday lives of these famous philosophers. We walk with Socrates as he struts around the Agora of Athens animated in the midday sun talking about justice. We wait in Kant’s living room as he changes his tie before answering the door to welcome guests to yet another of his Friday dinner soirées. Like Platonic dialogues, this wonderful and timely book works not only with words but with powerful, visceral imagery. We are after all not only accouters but largely also voyeurs. Our eyes are not only the windows to the world but also the windows to our souls. Our inner spirits need visions not merely in the logical form and structure of words but more at times in the luminous colors and lines of images that evoke the true nature of our whole being, intellect, feelings, and desires. This, Boylan’s and Johnson’s book accomplish with both grace and gusto.” —Edward Spence, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University

“A thoroughly inventive and demanding study that any student or reader should find insightful and rewarding.” —Library Journal

If you are a professor or course instructor, please use the following form to give us feedback on Philosophy: