(Undergrad.) Intro to Philosophy: History of Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind, part 2

Undergraduate course, University of Cincinnati, Department of Philosophy, 2018

Course offered online in Fall 2018 at University of Cincinnati, to undergraduate students of various backgrounds (philosophy majors were the minority).

Course Description

Some of what we learn in life comes through first-hand experience: this is how we know the taste of chocolate, how to ride a bicycle, and that rain is wet. But very often we learn from other people, be it friends, relatives, professors, experts, or the news. Some of what we think about the world seems to be beyond question (for example, 2+2=4), whereas other facts are subject to revision (for example, the number of planets in the solar system, or if coffee is good for your health). What is the difference between the many sources and kinds of knowledge we have? Is there a difference between what we know with our mind and what we know with our body? Should we even think of all these examples as “knowledge” or is that a special label that only some of our thoughts deserve? How does knowledge relate to truth: can we “know” something that is not true? and, on the other hand, if we have a belief that is true, does it automatically count as “knowledge”? Throughout history, philosophers have asked many questions similar to these. This course is an introduction to some of their answers. By examining profound and enduring philosophical works spanning a period of around three hundred years, from the mid-1600s through the mid-1900s, students will gain a greater understanding of the foundations of contemporary philosophical issues and will become better equipped for critical epistemic agency.

Student work

  • weekly quizzes
  • weekly short essay
  • online forum participation
  • midterm and final exam


  • Plato: excerpt from The Republic and from Meno
  • Descartes: excerpt from Meditations on First Philosophy
  • Locke: excerpt from Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • Berkeley: excerpt from Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
  • Hume: excerpt from Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  • Kant: excerpt from Critique of Pure Reason
  • Hegel: excerpt from The Phenomenology of Spirit
  • Marx and Engels: excerpt from The German Ideology
  • Husserl: excerpt from Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology
  • Heidegger: excerpt from Being and Time
  • Merleau-Ponty: excerpt from Phenomenology of Perception
  • William James: “Does `Consciousness’ Exist?” and excerpt from Pragmatism
  • John Dewey: excerpt from Democracy and Education
  • Anthony Chemero and Stephan Käufer: “Pragmatism, Phenomenology, and Extended Cognition

Sample of student comments:

  • “The videos made by the instructor himself explaining the relevant topics was most helpful to my learning.”

  • “I think that our instructor did a very good job of being present in the class, which is especially important considering it was an online course. He was always willing to answer questions, spoke to us in a respectful way, and presented the information in a way that could be easily understood, which again is important since the class was online.”

  • “I think Professor Gui did a wonderful job teaching this course. Other than having a thorough understanding of the subject and presenting in a digestible way, I really appreciated his organization and consistency throughout the course. This was my first online course and I can say it was a great experience.”

  • “He fosters an atmosphere of respect and curiosity in the virtual classroom. He encourages student participation in the discussion boards, but is clear that he expects student input on topics to be substantial and meaningful rather than just superficial comments of agreement. This is something I appreciate.”