Inside 'Intellectual Foundations': 'Knowing, Doing, Making, Wisdom'
Exploring the Curriculum
Jun 19, 2024

Inside 'Intellectual Foundations': 'Knowing, Doing, Making, Wisdom'

Core course examines the nature of knowledge and "the Abolition of Man."

Maggie Kelly
Maggie Kelly
University of Austin

Our core course sequence, Intellectual Foundations, consists of 15 required seminar classes guiding students in modeling and solving problems, identifying the necessary conditions of human flourishing, and critically understanding modern society and Western civilization. 

This week, we’re introducing the syllabus for the required Intellectual Foundations course “Knowing, Doing, Making, Wisdom,” scheduled to launch in Fall 2024. 

“Knowing, Doing, Making, Wisdom” Course Description:

This seminar examines the nature and limits of knowledge and the relationship between knowledge and wisdom. Guiding questions include: What is knowledge? What are its sources, modes, objects, and methods? How is knowledge manifested in doing and making? How is it acquired, preserved, and transmitted? What are the limits of our knowledge? Is some knowledge ineffable? How does knowledge differ from wisdom? These questions shall be addressed through careful reading and discussion, supplemented by common Intellectual Foundations lectures.

Required Texts:

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Bartlett and Collins (University of Chicago Press) 

Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project (W. W. Norton & Co.) 

Anthony Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments (Hackett) 

Margaret Edson, Wit (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 

C. S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man ASIN: ‎B00U93AFPI

Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Allan Bloom (Basic Books) 

Plato, Symposium, trans. A. Nehamas and P. Woodruff (Hackett) 

The Epic of Gilgamesh, trans. Sophus Helle (Yale University Press) 

Course Outcome: Achieve a critical understanding of the varieties of knowledge, their interrelationship, and the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Course Objectives: 

Students will be able to:

  • Identify fundamental sources, modes, objects, methods, and ontological preconditions of knowledge
  • Recognize basic logical fallacies and employ effective strategies of argumentation 
  • Appreciate the limits of distinct kinds of knowledge and the ways intelligence and knowledge inform doing and making
  • Explain in general terms how knowledge differs from wisdom

Reflections: Once each week, students will select a passage from the day’s reading that grabs their interest, and unpack it in roughly 400-500 words. Some questions they might ponder: What is noteworthy, strange, or surprising about the passage? How does it illuminate or connect with other parts of the text? What questions or issues worthy of discussion in class are prompted by the passage?  These assignments will help students to read carefully, think deeply about the text, and develop paper topics.

Synopses: On three occasions, students will produce a synopsis or overview (from Greek sūn, “together,” and opsis, “seeing”) of a philosophical text. A good synopsis summarizes the essential ideas and arguments of the material they’ve read. They should conclude with a brief reflection. What questions and issues are raised by the text? What are their own (preliminary) thoughts about these matters?

Electronics: Students may not use laptops, iPads, cell phones, or other electronic devices during class.

Read more about Intellectual Foundations.

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