Skepticism and Rationality
Spring 2017 - TL;DR: even philosophy majors say this is their least favorite philosophy class. Do not take. I read many reviews about how Hsu is hard to follow, how no one attends lecture, how TA's can grade harshly, etc. All of it is true. I did every single reading, yet could not follow Hsu's lectures at all, and would almost always end up falling asleep. Went to every single discussion (which they claim will allow them to boost your grade b/c good participation), went for help on my essays, yet still got a 77 and a 74 on both essays. Ended with a B-, no grade bump. It's ridiculous. The material is honestly not interesting, the lectures suck, discussion is pointless, and all your efforts end for naught. Do not take this class. A GE is supposed to be an interesting grade boost, and this satisfied neither.
This class destroyed my soul. The lectures are very boring. I had to scotch tape my eyeballs open to stop from falling asleep after 20 minutes. The grading is ridiculous. I could go on forever about how this class was a bad experience and made me want to drop out of college, but in short, there are other ways to fill the pre-rec requirement that it fulfills, don't take this class.
As a senior philosophy major, I took 21 for fun (yeah, I'm a bit of a loser) this past quarter with Lottenbach. It's a relatively easy class if you already know your stuff as a philosophy major (finding/formulating/analyzing arguments, writing philosophy papers and exams, philosophers, etc.), but it is a difficult class for those with little philosophy background because Lottenbach is a rather poor lecturer. Don't get me wrong, the man is a genius, but he says "uh" "right" and "so" about 237 times each per lecture which can get distracting, and, more importantly, he takes the most roundabout ways to answer the simplest of question (which my non-major friends found confusing), making it difficult to understand some of the material. I guess it also depends on your TA, go for James or Mandel, those guys rock. In addition, Lottenbach assigns rather obscure authors (Descartes was the only commonly known one we read), so if you're looking for a good introductory course so you can sound smart and talk about those philosophers all your friends know only by name, this isn't it. Lottenbach's expectations are certainly not high, but his lectures are rather boring, his answers to questions obtuse, his speech distracting, and his assignments obscure. All in all, not the most difficult class on paper, but rather hard given Lottenbach's style, especially if you aren't a major. Like I said though, he's a genius, so if you want to put up with his downsides to learn from someone who's read all the material in French, Latin, Greek, German, Italian, or English and basically seems to literally know everything, then take him, but be warned, Lottenbach's speech and way of answering questions makes things hard.
Winter 2020 - I felt like this class was actually very interesting, and if you go to lecture/watch Bruincasts and pay attention, the concepts are relatively easy to learn. Participation matters, as you usually do an “opt-in” ticket for at least 5 lectures, which you either write a question, or volunteer to have a chance to be called on randomly in lecture to answer a question. As long as you submit a ticket, you get credit. You have 3 quizzes based on readings, which are usually pretty easily graded and as long as you do the reading and go to lecture you’ll be fine.