Reading List: Truth & Pity, Richard Hate, Random House, 1999; Panic & Mastery, Richard Hate, LSU Press, 2002; Avarice & Dissent, Dustcover Books, 2009; Courage, Richard Hate, 2012, (on reserve at Watkins library).
Prerequisites: PHI 100, 105, 210 or 214; HUM 106, 210 or 212; or permission of the instructor.
Tests: There will be a test at approximately the mid-term of the course. You will be required to address one of seventeen topics provided to you at the beginning of the mid-term examination period. You will not be permitted to leave the room once testing begins, nor may you leave the test until the entire testing period is over. Nor will you be permitted to use your phone, iPad, laptop, or any other electronic devices or memory aids during the test itself. You will be asked to sign a sheet stipulating that you will not divulge test questions or discuss the test makeup with anyone in or out of this class this semester or in the future.
A final exam will take place during the last week of the semester and will be similar to the mid-term, with the exception that you will be asked to address two of fourteen topics. Again, a waiver will be signed prior to your taking of the test. Each test counts for 30 percent of your semester grade.
Discussion: It is expected that you will take part in our class meetings. It is not expected that you will have something interesting and/or relevant to say at every moment; it is hoped that you will make a positive contribution to the class on several occasions during the semester. You will receive 20 percent of your semester grade based on my subjective opinion of your value to the class. (For an explanation of value, c.f. Panic & Mastery, chapters 6 and 9 passim).
Class Schedule and Topic Primer: (All scenarios should be considered before class meetings. Please make notes totalling at least one full page single space for each scenario each week. You may be asked to lead the class in the opening round of discussion. On three occasions for the semester I will ask that you turn in your scenario notes for an assignment grade. This grade will count 20 percent of your semester grade. These are unannounced events.)
Week One: Class intro. Lecture: Contemporary Morality and its Place in Current Philosophical Pedagogy. (c.f. Courage, chapter 4).
Week Two: Scenario 1–You purchase an expensive set of dishes for a close friend of the opposite sex. On your way to deliver the gift you drop the package onto a concrete floor. You hear a rattle upon retrieving the package, but finding yourself already at the door decide to give the gift anyway. Two weeks later you visit the friend for dinner and see the dishes displayed prominently, except they are a different style than the originals. Or the same style, but a different color. Or the dish at your setting has a noticeable crack. Or the crack is only noticeable when you turn the dish over when your host goes to get the margaritas. Lecture: The Watched Pot. (c.f. Avarice & Dissent, chapter 9).
Week Three: Scenario 2–You see a stranger accidentally drop a watch down the sewer. Scenario 3–At a major chain department store, you discover that all the watches are actually priced at about 90 percent off rather than the proper 20 percent. Lecture: TBA.
Week Four: Scenario 4–An opposite sex acquaintance breaks down on the highway outside of your home city at 4 o’clock in the morning. You are 30 miles away. You are 70 miles away. You are 10 miles away. You are married. You are married and have a cold. You have a cold and it is midnight. It is winter. Lecture: Raised on Television.
Week Five: Scenario 5–A tree falls on your neighbors’ house while you are on vacation. When you return you find the entire clan has taken up residence in your home. Scenario 6–A man claiming to know the cure to cancer stops you on the street and hands you a blank piece of paper and asks you to borrow your pen. He asks you for five dollars. He asks you to write it for him. He speaks no English. Scenario 7–A young child of the same sex tells you that s/he has cheated on a mathematics exam.
Week Six: Scenario 8–Three young men of foreign birth come to your door offering to do menial yard work for you in exchange for three glasses of ice water and three bologna sandwiches. They are wearing colored bandanas. They are wearing no shirts. One is under the age of ten. All three are clearly in their thirties. One of them is carrying some sort of knife in his pocket. It looks like rain. Lecture: Misery as Motivator–The 3rd World Factor.
Week Seven: Mid-Term Exam. Bring pens and blue books. See earlier note about electronic gizmos, memory enhancers, waivers, etc.
Week Eight: Scenario 9–While eating at a restaurant, you see your ex-spouse dining with a young companion of the opposite sex. While your ex-spouse excuses him/herself from the table, the dinner companion pours a vial of colored liquid on top of your ex-spouse’s salad. It is a crowded restaurant. There are five tables between you and the table in question. Your ex-spouse is highly allergic to cheese or lactose. Your dinner companion is complaining of a migraine headache and begging you to leave. Your ex-spouse’s dinner companion is an old friend of your oldest child. Your ex-spouse always called you Fatty, even in the good times. Lecture: Panic & Mastery–Coda. (c.f. Panic & Mastery, chapters 3, 6, 9, 12).
Week Nine: TBA
Week Ten: Scenario 10–Your car is stolen on the day for the final of this class. You have ten minutes to make the thirty minute walk. On your side of the street are: 1) an unchained, 12 speed, mountain bicycle; 2) a 1991 pick-up truck with the keys in the ignition and no driver; 3) a Gypsy cab. You need a B on the final to pass this class. An A. You’ve already earned a passing grade. You are my assistant and you are in possession of the final itself. You have a bad foot. It is raining. You feel like you might have undiagnosed gallbladder cancer. The bike is not a mountain bike. It’s got a banana seat, and reminds you of your youth, before all the forces in the universe conspired to fuck you. Scenario 11–A fiendish doctor gives you the option of being blind, deaf, dumb, supertall, or supershort. Lecture: Rats, Rats, and More Rats. (c.f. Courage, chapter 11).
Week Eleven: Scenario 12–You are scaling the highest mountain in the state of Montana. On a precipice where you stop to take a drink of water, you find a note on a 3 X 5 inch card. The card says: GO BACK TO YOUR WIFE. You suddenly realize that there is writing on the back of it, in tiny hand. As you flip it over to see the long, complicated message that has apparently been written by “God,” the card slips from your grasp and it slowly falls into the forest below you. You’d been thinking about your wife earlier. Your wife cheated on you with a man named Carl who owns three Pinkberrys. The card was scented. “God” was written in cursive. Typed. In Spanish. Scenario 13–You are in the forest that contains the highest mountain in Montana and a tree that you’ve used as a landmark for finding your way back to the main entrance of the campground suddenly falls. You don’t hear it.
Week Twelve: Scenario 13–You win $5000 in the lottery on the same day your parent of the opposite sex has a birthday. Your parent has always had it in for you. Your parent reminds you that you’ve never measured up. Scenario 14–A man offers to give you $5000 in cash if you will hold his trunk open while he retrieves a heavy object from his garage. He asks you to help carry the object. Inside the bag you can feel a foot. Maybe you only feel the outline of a shoe. Maybe it’s $15,000 cash, and you get half up front and half after you get back from the swamp. Lecture: The Maze of Mortality.
Week Thirteen: No class. I will be in Gstaad.
Week Fourteen: Scenario 15–A young neighbor child knocks on your door selling chances for a raffle at $1 a piece. You offer to buy one, pay the dollar, and take the ticket. A week later when the local newspaper lists the number of the winning ticket you realize that you have won. However, instead of finding just one ticket, there are actually two tickets stuck together. The winning number was the first ticket. The second. The prize is a top of the line Cadillac. A Prius. A bicycle. A large Virginia ham. Two tickets to the World Series. A box of candy. The child is in a wheelchair. The child is one of nine children. The child comes to your door and accuses you of tricking her/him. The child comes to your door with his/her parent. You never liked the child. His/her parents are stupid and get what they deserve. Lecture: Once More to the Moon. (c.f. Avarice & Dissent, chapter 12-14 passim).
Week Fifteen: Final Exam with bad-weather proviso in place.