Philosophy 255, Course Overview
WI and Diversification in Humanities

Before you enter this course, read carefully this overview, course evaluation, course assignments, course mechanics, and self-check activities.

Course Title: Cosmology: Science and the Human Prospect

Instructor: Professor Ronald C. Pine, Ph.D.

Course Credits: 3

General Education area: Diversification in Humanities

Prerequisites:  English 100 and possess basic Internet skills.  As a WI course, English 100 (C grade or higher) in the UH system or an equivalent college level composition course is an absolute prerequisite.


An interdisciplinary study of science and philosophy from a humanistic perspective. A scientific description of the Universe and its constituents, and its implications for human life will be discussed. Also, the central philosophical problems of cosmology will be discussed: The problem of understanding the world, including ourselves, and our knowledge, as part of the world.

Course Objectives and Student Learning Outcomes:  Students will demonstrate in college level writing


This course is an interdisciplinary study of science and philosophy from a humanistic perspective. Its aim is to have students appreciate the vastness of the Universe and the wonder of its parts, and the philosophical significance of this for improving the quality of human life. A theme of the joy and seemingly limitless growth potential of human intelligence will be emphasized. The goal will not be a complete understanding in detail of every scientific topic discussed. It is not intended to replace introductory courses in Astronomy, Biology, and Physics. The goal is to impart to the student a "feel" for the scientific method and an appreciation for the scientific endeavor. It will present the worldview of the modern science and discuss the implications of this view for the human prospect. It is an attempt to present the Big Picture in order that we may better understand ourselves and appreciate what is truly human and valuable.


The course is a general survey one. The method used will be to approach the study of science and the results of science from a philosophical perspective, such that the most important topics in science and many traditional topics in philosophy and intellectual history are discussed simultaneously. Accordingly, the following will be covered.

A. Science:

B. Philosophy:

Texts and Resources:

Science and the Human Prospect, by Ronald C. Pine
Lectures and Internet resources on case studies and contemporary ethical issues.

Qualified students with disabilities will receive appropriate accommodations in this course. Students with disabilities may obtain information on available services online at  Specific inquires may be made by contacting Student ACCESS at 844-2392, by e-mail at, or by simply stopping by the office located in 2/409.

Schedule: Below is the 16-week schedule.
Week       Topic (s) 
Chapter 1: The World View of Modern Science -- Curiosity and Cognitive Values: Assignment 1
Chapter 2: Scientific Method and Cognitive Values: Assignment 2
Chapter 3: Evolution and Philosophical Issues: Assignment 3
Chapter 4: The Ancient Greeks -- Cultural Roots of Science: Assignment 4
Chapter 5: The Copernican Revolution -- Cultural Roots of Science: Assignment 5
Chapter 6: Newtonianism -- Cultural Roots of Science continued: Assignment 6
Chapter 7: Our Time, Understanding the Theory of Relativity: Assignment 7
Chapter 8: Our Time, Understanding Quantum Physics: Assignment 8
Draft of Major Paper
Chapter 9: Evolution in a Darwinian Universe: Assignment 9
Chapter 10: The Human Prospect -- Meliorism and Nihilism: Assignment 10
Feedback and Final Discussion
Final Exam Preparation
Final Draft of Paper
Exam Preparation

Final Exam