But I had a thought for what might be an intriguing way to organize an intro to philosophy course: Identify assumptions made in other disciplines and use these as these content objects for the course. So I could imagine you could have a course where:
- Students read the Republic, say, and having had it pointed out to them that Plato's psychology is strongly egoistic, investigate to what degree egoism is assumed in orthodox economics or political science.
- Students read Descartes and other work on skepticism concerning knowledge of the empirical world as a way of considering whether natural science is naively empiricist.
- Students read core sources on free will and determinism and consider to what degree the governing precepts of contemporary biology (or physics, or even sociology) are deterministic.
I can see one obvious objection to this approach: It makes philosophy seem like the snarky kid in the corner with no domain of its own, whose job is to hassle other disciplines. Yet on the other hand, I could see two advantages to such an approach: First, it's an ideal way to get guest speakers into your class from other disciplines (and in my view, guest speakers are almost a welcome addition to a class). Second, it seems likely that students will continue to apply the knowledge they acquire in the class because they are likely to go on to study these other disciplines. Teaching philosophy as a 'freestanding' discipline, with its own distinctive problems, encourages students to think of philosophy as something that one does outside of thinking about other things. In contrast, this approach signals that the activity of philosophy arises along side of other intellectual pursuits and is hardly cordoned off from them.
Could such an approach work?