What is Philosophy?

Spring 2021

Samuel Beckett, from Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Grove, NY, 1954, p. 13.


Course CodeLocation Times
PHIL-SHU 101OnlineMondays and Wednesdays, 1:15pm–2:30pm


NameEmailOfficeConsultation Times
Brad Weslakebrad.weslake@nyu.edu1555 Century Avenue, Room 961By appointment.


This course is a methdologically oriented introduction to philosophy through the study of selected central problems. Our approach will be historical, comparative and interdisciplinary.


The aim of this course is for students to significantly improve their capacity to:



The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:

First Paper: 20% [PDF]
Second Paper: 30% [PDF]
Third Paper: 40% [PDF]
Attendance and participation: 10%

Due dates:

First Paper: Monday 15 March
Second Paper: Monday 19 April
Third Paper: Wednesday 12 May


Attendance and Lateness

Students are required to attend all classes on time. An explanation for every absence or late attendance must be submitted in writing. Every failure to attend class on time will count against the component of the final grade awarded for attendance and participation, unless an explanation is received and approved at least one day prior to the class in question. Requests for exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis, and typically granted only when related to an illness or other unforeseeable change of circumstances. Students who have been excessively absent will be considered to have unofficially withdrawn and will be given a final grade of F.


It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin.


Meeting 1: What is Philosophy? (Monday 25 January)

Section I

Meeting 2: (Wednesday 27 January)

Meeting 3: (Monday 1 February)

Meeting 4: (Wednesday 3 February)

Meeting 5: (Monday 8 February)

Meeting 6: (Wednesday 10 February)

Spring Festival: 11–19 February

Meeting 7: (Monday 22 February)

Meeting 8: (Wednesday 24 February)

Meeting 9: (Monday 1 March)

Meeting 10: (Wednesday 3 March)

Meeting 11: (Monday 8 March)

Meeting 12: (Wednesday 10 March)

Meeting 13: (Monday 15 March)

Meeting 14: (Wednesday 17 March)

Meeting 15: (Monday 22 March)

Meeting 16: (Wednesday 24 March)

Meeting 17: (Monday 29 March)

Meeting 18: (Wednesday 31 March)

Qingming: 5–7 April

Meeting 19: (Monday 12 April)

Meeting 20: (Wednesday 14 April)

Meeting 21: (Monday 19 April)

Meeting 22: (Wednesday 21 April)

Meeting 23: (Sunday 25 April)

Meeting 24: (Monday 26 April)

Meeting 25: (Wednesday 28 April)

China Labor Day: 3 May

Meeting 26: (Wednesday 5 May)

Meeting 27: (Monday 10 May)

Meeting 28: (Wednesday 12 May)

Updated: 20 January 2021