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THE PHILOSOPHY REQUIREMENT

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Displaying some careful thinking that is rarely found between the covers of the Advocate, a contributor in the December issue of that magazine discusses the Philosophy distribution requirement at Harvard. The article agrees with the criticism recently made in these columns of the Philosophy part of the Mathematics - Philosophy requirement; for it concludes that, while distribution in either Mathematics or Philosophy is highly desirable, the courses at present offered in the latter are inadequate to meet the need.

The Advocate writer develops his arguments at some length, and what he has to say forms a very pertinent consideration of the problem. To meet the distribution demands by elementary Philosophy, a man may take course A, or a year of the following half courses: 1, 1a, or B. However good or bad these courses may be, they are not suited for this purpose. Two ideal approaches to Philosophy are possible but the present courses do not measure up to standard.

It is suggested that two full year introductory courses be offered. The first would be "an historical approach to the problems of philosophy from the point of view of the men who wrote" the great philosophical works. This course would be Philosophy A revamped and open only to fairly mature undergraduates who can think abstractly and come up to the level of philosophy and not demand that the presentation be brought down to the level of their development. A second course would present the student who has no interest in philosophy with a survey of the problems with which philosophy deals, and familiarize him with the philosophic approach. This course would be Philosophy B sharply defined in purpose and extended in treatment.

In summarizing the Advocate article the CRIMSON hopes to call attention to an important piece of undergraduate criticism of the University's teaching. Philosophy A and the other introductory courses have long been a storm center. The reason for dissatisfaction is not with the men giving the lectures or with the courses themselves. It goes deeper, to the fact that the burden of teaching philosophy to students who are required to take it as the lesser of two evils is too heavy for the present courses. The Advocate contributor has not said the last word on the subject, but he at least points out that there is a problem, in the Philosophy requirement debate that goes beyond an undergraduate "gripe."

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