Philosophy (PHIL) 231

Introduction to Philosophy: West and East (Revision 2)

PHIL 231 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: PHIL 251 and PHIL 261 (PHIL 231 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for PHIL 251 or PHIL 261.)

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Philosophy Studies home page

PHIL 231 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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PHIL 231 introduces students to philosophical debate over some of the most fundamental questions humanity has encountered and continues to encounter. Through a study of some of the world's most influential thinkers—Socrates, Confucius, Chuang Tzu (Taoism) and the Buddha—we encounter debate and insights about our place in the universe, what it is to live the good life, what it is to overcome deception and falsity. “What exists?” “What can we know?” “What is the best way to lead our lives?” These questions mark three foundational areas of philosophical debate: Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics.

The course focuses on developing an ability to think critically and independently about these questions, initiating the process of making better decisions about which views are worth holding.


  • Unit 1: Introductory Concepts, Explanations, and Exercises - The Apology
  • Unit 2: The Phaedo Part I
  • Unit 3: The Phaedo Part II
  • Unit 4: Confucius and the Analects
  • Unit 5: Taoism
  • Unit 6: Buddhism


To receive credit for this course you must complete all four assignments and achieve a minimum course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1:
Descriptive exposition of a Socratic text (section)
Assignment 2:
Descriptive exposition of an Eastern text (section)
Assignment 3:
Comparative Essay
Assignment 4:
Critical Position Essay
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates (3rd ed.) (G.M.A. Grube trans.) 2000. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

Plato, The Phaedo (G.M.A. Grube trans.). 1977. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.

Confucius. (2005). The analects of Confucius (A. Waley, Trans.). Routledge. (Original work published ca. 206 BC–220 AD) (eBook)

Chuang-tzu, Basic Writings (Burton Watson, trans.). 1996 New York: Columbia U.P.

Other Materials

Readings on Buddhism are provided online and embedded in the study guide.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the PHIL 231 challenge registration, you must achieve an overall grade of at least D (50 percent).

Essay 1 Essay 2 Total
50% 50% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, April 8, 2014.

View previous syllabus