Fall 2021

NOTE: This data is offered for your convenience only. The schedule data is updated regularly and may not reflect recent changes to the Schedule of Classes. For full, up-to-date course information please visit the Office of the Registrar's website. Thank you.

1115 - Introduction to Philosophy

1115.002

Instructor: Cara Greene
Time/s: ARR

Philosophy comes from the Greek word philosophia, which means, “love of wisdom.” Accordingly, philosophy is a diverse field of study that explores and celebrates different ways of thinking about things like knowledge, ethics, logic, aesthetics, religion, and politics, among many others. Yet, you cannot have “love of wisdom” without having a lover of wisdom, or a thing that loves wisdom. Who is this “thing” that is capable of finding, acquiring, and loving wisdom? In this Introduction to Philosophy class, you will encounter a broad range of philosophical perspectives on the topic of human subjectivity. We will confront and attempt to answer questions like: What is the difference between the soul and the body? Is the soul composed of parts, or is the soul a unified thing? What divides the human from the natural world? What is the relationship between an individual and collective society? To tackle these questions, we will begin in the ancient world, reading selections from Plato, Aristotle and Nagasena. Next, we will move to the modern era, reading selections from Descartes, Spinoza and Hume. Finally, we will transition to the 19th and 20th centuries, reading selections from Hegel, Marx, Freud and Fanon.  Course assignments will consist of readings, reading responses, a midterm exam, 2 short papers, and 1 final paper.

My office hours will be by appointment.

1115.003

Instructor: Robert McKinley
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

Philosophy is often said to begin from a sense of wonder or amazement that leads us to ask questions about the world and ourselves. But it doesn't end there, since philosophers then try to articulate and defend reasonable answers to these questions in critical dialogue with others. While most of us feel this wonder or ask these questions spontaneously, few take the time and effort to work out the answers for ourselves in an intellectually satisfying way. This class will give you practice with just that.  We will take an historical approach, following the broad trajectory of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to 20th century thinkers, with some consideration of the Indian philosophical tradition as well. Our questions will be largely metaphysical (what is the nature of reality? what is the nature of myself?) and ethical (what kinds of things are worth pursuing in life? how should I act?). Assessment will be through class participation, reading responses, and papers. Students should come away from this course with a general understanding of (some of) the history of philosophy and enhanced skills for reading and evaluating philosophical texts as well as composing philosophical arguments of their own.

1115.005

Instructor: Justin Pearce
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

Most, if not all of us, have spent time in our lives asking philosophical questions: Are you and I seeing the same blue when we look at the sky? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a good person? While many people view these philosophical questions as just pointless musings which don't really have any answer beyond one's opinion, in this course, we will take seriously the idea that philosophy relies on rigorous, well-reasoned arguments. The goal of this course is not to answer all our philosophical questions once and for all. The goal is simply to engage with some of the important philosophers of the past in order to determine what philosophy is, how we do it, and why we ought to do it at all. We're all born as philosophers who repeatedly ask our parents "Why?" over and over until we are met with the frustrated "Because I said so!" Throughout the rest of our lives, we are often told by other authorities "this is simply the way things have to be" or "it's just common sense." Our goal is to revive that child-like wonder and questioning - philosophy is about giving actual reasons where others simply want to appeal to authority or say "it's just obvious."

We will begin with ancient philosophy and continue all the way to the 21st century, picking out a variety of important texts throughout history. All readings will be available on Learn. Grades will primarily be determined by argumentative papers and reading responses.

1115.010

Instructor: Zaccharia Turnbull
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

This course will introduce students to western philosophy and its tradition. The course material will be organised and taught principally upon a chronological principle, however we will cover a good spread of both 'analytic' and 'Continental' authors in an effort to capture common themes and problems across the two traditions. The main means of assessment for the course will be i) argumentative essays that should show close and controlled engagement with the assigned texts, ii) active participation in class discussions, which is for philosophy and philosophical education a critical - not optional - aspect of the discipline. To this end, I aim to make our third session each week mostly a discussion class. Authors to be studied may include, but may not be limited to, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Mill, Russell, Heidegger, Quine, and Foucault.

1115.605

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

This course is an exploration of some of the basic questions in philosophy such as what is reality, what is self, what is the connection between mind and body, whether are we free, and what is the nature of right and wrong.

1120 - Logic, Reasoning, and Critical Thinking

1120.002

Instructor: Jason Barton
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

Ultimately, philosophy is concerned with argumentation. In this course, we will investigate what properties, qualities, and conditions make an argument acceptable, persuasive, and interesting. The first part of the course will be more theoretical in the sense that we will analyze the foundational elements of argumentation (argument construction, types of reasoning, fallacies, and so on). The second part of the course will be more practical in the sense that we will apply the argumentative concepts from the first part of the course to philosophical and political texts. None of the texts from the second part of the course will need to be purchased by students. This list of texts includes Harry Frankfurt’s The Reasons of Love, Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Antichrist: A Criticism of Christianity, and Richard Taylor’s “The Meaning of Life.” We will also apply our argumentative concepts to timely political texts.

1120.003

Instructor: Kedar Patwary
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

TBD

1120.004

Instructor: Klara Hedling
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

1120 Logic, Reasoning and Critical Thinking is a course that will teach the skills of writing, argumentation, argument analysis, reasoning and critical thinking. The first half of the course will cover how to identify and assess arguments, by introducing students to deduction, induction, validity, soundness, strength, and fallacy, among others. The second half of the course will apply the skills learned in the first part of the course through critical engagement with selected texts. We will explore various philosophical topics such as the problems of knowledge, personal identity, free will, mind and body relation et cetera. Classes will consist of lecture, discussion and group work. Assignments will include readings, exams, presentations, a short paper and a final paper.

1120.006

Instructor: Capucine Mercier
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This class will help you develop your ability to identify and criticize unsound arguments, to understand and criticize sound arguments and to create your own solid arguments. More generally, it will develop your skills in writing, argumentation, reasoning, and critical thinking.

We will study different types of arguments (deductive, inductive and moral arguments) as well as the elements of meaning and language that convey those arguments. We will also consider what constitutes a flawed argument, or logical fallacy. Throughout the class, we will practice our skills at spotting and analyzing arguments by reading texts on philosophical and ethical themes including feminism, death, epistemology, the nature of morality, animal rights and environmental ethics.

The logical and analytical tools acquired in this class will be highly useful to students in their future coursework by enabling them to read and analyze material efficiently and to write strong and well-structured papers. 

Required text: Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Edition), by William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, Katheryn Doran (Broadview Press). (ISBN-13: 978-1554811977 ISBN-10: 155481197X)

1120.007

Instructor: Nils Seiler
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

In Logic, Reason, and Critical Thinking you will learn the tools you need to make and defend strong arguments and those you need to analyze the arguments of others. By focusing on the components of strong arguments as well as some of the common fallacious methods of argumentation, this course will help you improve your own argumentative skills, especially in writing, and your skills in critical thinking. The first half of this course will help you develop the techniques required for making and analyzing arguments, while the second half of the course will give you experience in analyzing arguments in action. Although topics for the class are varied, you can expect to discuss current topics such as politics, law, social issues, and more.

1120.008

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

How can you tell if an argument makes sense? What separates a good argument from a bad one? In this online course, students will learn the skills necessary to construct, analyze, and critically assess arguments.  Beginning with the basic principles of reason and logic, students will acquire the abilities necessary to extract arguments from philosophical texts, evaluate the strength of these arguments, and craft written responses to them.  We will also be analyzing classic philosophical texts that have profoundly influenced the structure and development of Western civilization.

1120.009

Instructor: Tal Ben Itzhak
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This class aims at developing your skills in writing, argumentation, argument analysis, reasoning, and critical thinking. We will study the structures of argumentative texts and of different types of arguments (deduction and induction, descriptive vs normative arguments, etc.) as well as the elements of meaning and language that convey those arguments. We will also consider what constitutes a flawed argument, or logical fallacy. Throughout the class, we will practice our skills at spotting and analyzing arguments by reading texts on philosophical and ethical themes. Students will also practice their own argumentative skills by writing short essays in response to some of these texts. The logical and analytical tools acquired in this class will be highly useful to students in their future coursework by enabling them to read and analyze material efficiently and to write strong and well-structured papers. 

Required text: Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th Edition), by William Hughes, Jonathan Lavery, Katheryn Doran (Broadview Press). (ISBN-13: 978-1554811977 ISBN-10: 155481197X)

2140 - Professional Ethics

2140.005

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

This online course focuses on some of the ethical issues that arise in the context of professional life.  Beginning with an overview of three major ethical theories, we will consider how these theories, which traditionally concern personal morality, apply to life in a professional setting.  We will also examine the roles and obligations associated with professional life. What is the relationship between personal and professional codes of conduct? What distinguishes professions from other occupations?  Through the lens of various professions, we will look at issues such as lying and truth-telling, whistleblowing, confidentiality, and the obligations of professionals toward the public.  Using a combination of readings, case studies, and online discussion groups, we will explore these ideas in a philosophical manner, looking to understand the ethical principles at work.  This course will give students a solid introduction to ethical reasoning and will help to develop the tools necessary to apply ethical principles to real-world settings. 

Required text: 

Ethics Across the Professions: A Reader for Professional Ethics, 2nd ed, Clancy Martin, Wayne Vaught, and Robert C. Solomon, editors. OUP. (ISBN-13: 978-0190298708/ISBN-10: 0190298707)

2210 - Early Modern Philosophy

2210.001

Instructor: Michael Candelaria
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

This course on Early Modern Philosophy introduces the students to the major thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the leading lights of rationalism and empiricism. We begin with a study of Descartes' Meditations of First Philosophy, then turn to Spinoza's Ethics, and end the rationalists with Leibniz' Monadology. Next we give our attention to the British Empiricists: John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. The capstone of our course is Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason that synthesizes transcendental idealism with empirical realism. 

2210.002

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: ARR

The philosophies that emerged during the early modern period can be seen as a response to a two-fold challenge: 1) the skeptical challenge to human knowledge and 2) the challenge to find a scientific method appropriate for study of the natural world. 

We’ll begin the course by considering the growing popularity of skepticism in the wake of the Protestant Reformation and focus in particular on the skeptical arguments forwarded in Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond.  This background will set the stage for our examination of the anti-skeptical arguments of ‘rationalists’ such as Descartes and Leibniz. 


The second half of the course will be dedicated to the ‘empiricists’ such as Locke and Hume. Their philosophies will be placed in the scientific context of the seventeenth century, and we’ll examine how they attempted to integrate the empirical method of science into their respective approaches to knowledge and nature.

2220 - Greek Philosophy

2220.001

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

This course will be an introduction to the foundational texts of ancient Western philosophy.  Its aim will be to provide the student with a solid background, not only for future work in philosophy, but also for understanding Western civilization.  We will begin with a study of the fascinating, but fragmentary, philosophical ideas left to us from the first Western philosophers, traditionally known as the “Pre-Socratics.”   Following this introduction to the philosophical context in which they practiced, the bulk of the course will be devoted to a detailed examination of the three classical Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.  We will study the distinctively Socratic approach to philosophy, as well as Socrates’ own defense of his way of life (as reported by Plato).  We will then turn to the centerpiece of the course, the philosophy of Plato. Plato’s philosophy hinges on his Theory of the Forms, as this is laid out in such works as the Meno,Phaedo, Symposium, and Republic.  All of these key dialogues will be examined in detail.  Along the way, we will study Plato’s immensely influential views on piety, knowledge, virtue, the soul, love, beauty, goodness, justice, and happiness.  Finally, the course will culminate in a systematic exposition of the thought of Aristotle – arguably the pinnacle of ancient thought (and, some would argue, of philosophy as a whole).  We will examine Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s theory of the Forms, and his alternative ontology of substance, as well as his views on natural change, the ultimate causes of things, the soul, and the human good.  Required Text (Available in UNM Bookstore): S. Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, and C.D.C. Reeve (eds.), Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, Fifth Edition (Hackett).  Assignments: 20% answers to discussion questions/ participation in discussions; 40% analytical-critical essays; 40% take-home, writing-intensive final exam. 

2220.002

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: ARR

This completely online course is an introduction to the ancient Greek beginnings of philosophy in the western tradition. We’ll read the ancient Greek philosophers themselves—several Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and several Stoics—and engage their fundamental questions and concerns, which today can still touch and interest every person. These questions include: What are nature and reality? What is a good life? What are being, becoming, and change? What are reason, language, truth, and knowing? What are love and friendship? What is education? And, what is philosophy itself?

Required weekly work includes readings, written discussion posts, and reading quizzes. Additional required semester work includes a midterm exam and a final exam. Coursework is due at the end of each week, at midnight on Sunday nights. You must have reliable Internet access, but no other special equipment is required.

2240 - Introduction to Existentialism

2240.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

In this course students will encounter the primary thought of the existentialist movement. The (existential) encounter will bring us to question not only the thinking of existentialist thought, but via this thinking also ourselves: our own conception of reality (of the world and ourselves). An examination of some of the seminal texts and their authors (including key aspects of their personal life and political history) will introduce us to the themes of existentialism. A thorough reading of their work (exegesis), followed by scrupulous discussion (interpretation) and unreserved participation (authenticity) will confront us with ourselves — both through the experience of existentialist thought and the thinking of the existentialist experience. Existentialist Thought is not understood without the existentialist experience. The course aims at being an event (Ereignis).

Some of the authors we will consult from the religious (Christian) and atheist (secular) tradition are Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Buber, Edith Stein, Martin Heidegger, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Frantz Fanon, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry & Wilhelm Reich.

There are no prerequisites for this course. The only requirements essential to the course are genuine interest – in the literal sense of the word “inter-esse” (being-with/in/between) – in the exploration of texts and their authors, and the willingness to engage in (self-) critical — individual and collective — self-reflection. In addition to offering stimulation for intellectual development and personal enrichment through the philological treatment of texts, the course will prepare students to participate in other courses in philosophy and the humanities at large. The course is illuminating to people from all walks of life and thus enlightening also to other academic disciplines.

343 - Contemporary Continental Philosophy

343.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

In this introductory survey course, we will seek together to understand the most important philosophical developments in Continental philosophy since World War II.  Our sole course text will be the newly published Cambridge History of Philosophy: 1945–2015 (full information below), which brings together leading experts from the diverse traditions of Western philosophy in a common quest to examine, illuminate, and explain those insights and movements that most profoundly shaped philosophy in the English-speaking world over the last 75 years.  The class will begin by briefly examining ‘Continental’ philosophy and its historical differences from mainstream ‘analytic’ philosophy.  We will then dive right into a semester-long examination the most important advances and transformations that shaped ‘Continental’ philosophy during this tumultuous and fascinating historical period, developments that continue to shape the field today.  

Course Requirements:  This course will require a good deal of sometimes challenging reading.  To facilitate your understanding of these works, attendance is required.  (If class attendance needs to be enforced, that will be done with brief in-class quizzes on the reading assigned for that class.)  Final course grades will be based on any such quizzes and (more significantly) on two short but carefully composed and highly polished papers—which will be due in class near the middle and end of the semester, on dates specified on the syllabus (or one final research paper, for any graduate students taking the course for credit). 

Required Text:  1).  Kelly Becker and Iain Thomson, eds., The Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1945–2015 (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 53 chapters, 888 pages, published in November 2019, subsequently abbreviated as “CHP”).  This sole required course text is currently available in an inexpensive .pdf version on Amazon.com:   https://amzn.to/3c3wOlg (but it can also be purchased from the UNM bookstore, borrowed from the library, etc.).  (Use of devices to access the text in class will therefore be fine, so long as those devices are not used for any other purpose.) 

350 - Philosophy of Science

350.001

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: ARR

**THIS IS AN 8-WEEK COURSE THAT BEGINS MONDAY 18 OCTOBER 2021**

The history of science appears to indicate that the best scientific theories of an era are prone to be replaced by a new theory. In astronomy, for example, an earth-centered model of the universe was later replaced by a sun-centered model, and in physics, Newton's absolute account of motion was later replaced by Einstein's relativistic account. Based on this evidence, one might even claim that science cannot provide us a true account of nature, because what history seems to indicate is that any scientific truth today could become a falsehood tomorrow. 

But perhaps this isn’t the correct lesson to draw from the historical evidence.Perhaps there is a way that we can save the truth and objectivity that is typically associated with science from the apparently negative lessons of history. In this class we will examine different philosophical answers to this question, and also discuss the ways in which the history of science has influenced philosophical accounts of what scientific practice involves. 

Our survey of the history of science will begin with the Copernican and Newtonian Revolutions of the Seventeenth Century and end with the theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics that were developed in the Twentieth Century.  These revolutionary moments in the physical sciences will serve as the basis for our examination of the nature of scientific practice, and also guide our study of some philosophical debates surrounding the notions of scientific explanation, truth, and objectivity.

352 - Theory of Knowledge

352.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

The theory of knowledge or epistemology asks questions such as, What is knowledge? Is it possible to know anything? If so, then are there nevertheless certain limits to what we are able to know? Do we have any good reasons for thinking that our beliefs about the world are true or at least approximately true? We will explore these questions through the study of works from the history of philosophy and contemporary texts. Emphasis will be placed on the comprehension and analysis of the readings and critical reflection on the theories and arguments presented therein. Required texts: Ernest Sosa and Jaegwon Kim, Epistemology: An Anthology (Wiley), Plato’s Theaetetus (Hackett). Other readings will be posted on Learn. Assignments: two in-class essay exams and a comprehensive final exam.

356 - Symbolic Logic

356.001

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: ARR

One great thing about the human mind is its ability to draw inferences.  Better still is to do this well.  In this course, you will learn two new languages developed to clarify the notion of logical entailment, which will help you understand the nature of valid inference.  The course is good preparation for further work in logic or mathematics, but you can also take the tools you will acquire into any academic or professional discipline that requires clarity of thought.  No prerequisites.  Grades based on quizzes, homework, and exams.  Text: Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson, The Logic Book 6/e (McGraw-Hill).  Consider renting the book.  It’s one of the best available, but the most recent addition has a significant number of typos and is quite expensive.

363 - Environmental Ethics

363.001

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This course explores some of the main issues in environmental ethics.  We will be looking at our relation with non-human nature and evaluating the underlying values of this relationship including aesthetic, intrinsic, utilitarian, ecological, and personal value. We explore how these values and an understanding of ecology shape our discussion of environmental issues such as climate change, species extinction, ecological restoration, and wilderness.

371 - Classical Social and Political Philosophy

371.001

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

Social and political philosophy isn’t about the wranglings of politicians and government—it’s about the purpose and meaning of human existence. What's the full meaning of human dignity and happiness?  What values and priorities do we want for our communities? Is human flourishing a matter of conquering nature itself, or a matter of learning to understand and enhance nature, including our own? What should be the obligation of the community to the individual, and the individual to the community? What is good leadership? In good societies, what are the roles of love and friendship, contemplation and activism, justice and divinity? Can we be both patriots of our homeland and cosmopolitans, citizens of the world beyond our home borders?   

These are questions of classical social and political philosophy--the philosophy of ancient, medieval, and early modern thinkers—and, particularly, thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, and Machiavelli.  This course takes as a basic premise that although these thinkers are older and pre-modern, they have much to teach us about the ills and crises and puzzles that beset contemporary individual and community life. 

Course requirements include: mandatory class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading of assigned texts, short discussion posts/response papers, occasional quizzes, and two take-home exams.

381 - Philosophy of Law

381.001

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

The question “what is law?” concerns everyone, even if they don’t know it. We live under rule of law, government makes and enforces laws, judges apply law, and the law orders and regulates our human conduct. Most of us take this for granted. But how does it all work? Who or what really is source and authority of law?  Is law’s purpose to punish ‘injustice,’ to ‘create’ justice, or something else? What is law’s influence in our moral life? Are you morally obligated to obey ‘unjust’ law? What is the purpose of punishment? 

PHIL 381 is an introduction to philosophy of law, to the practice of law, and to discussion of jurisprudence, American constitutional law, and social justice. Guiding our study will be the fundamental question “what is law?” but we will also consider how philosophers think about specific problems in law, including the following:  1) the sources, authority, and duties of law;  2) rights, such as your ‘right to personal liberty' and a 'right to privacy’;  3) contemporary problems of race and law; and 4) the nature of punishment.

Coursework will improve your legal reasoning, your critical reading of argument, your familiarity with legal concepts and terminology, and your preparation for further study of law, policy, social/criminal justice, politics, and philosophy.

Course requirements include: mandatory class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading of assigned texts, short discussion posts/response papers, occasional quizzes, and two take-home exams. 

442 - Sem: Nietzsche vs. Christianity

442.002

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: T 2:00-4:30

Friedrich Nietzsche is the one of the most famous and influential figures in the modern era of Western philosophy.  One simply cannot appreciate much of the continental philosophy of the past century and a half without a solid grasp of Nietzsche’s writings.  Much of the greatest literature in the same period presupposes an acquaintance with his thought.  He is a ubiquitous general cultural presence as well, cropping up frequently in popular discussions of religion and morality, as well as in art, movies, TV, and pop music.  It is arguable that Nietzsche’s most lasting and influential legacy was his critique of Christianity.  In fact, Nietzsche’s three most systematic works were systematic attacks on Christianity.   In this course, we will give a close study of all three of these works: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Genealogy of Morals, and The Antichrist.  Our examinations will give attention to the intersecting philosophical argumentation and rhetorical-literary strategies that he uses in order to undermine Christianity in these works.  However, we will also spend significant time examining the texts of the Bible that form the basis for Christianity, in order to be better situated to judge for ourselves the cogency of Nietzsche’s critiques.  No prior knowledge of Christianity will be presupposed, for a basic knowledge of Christianity will be provided by the course itself for students who lack this.  Students who already have some background in Christianity will have the opportunity to review key texts of the Bible with fresh eyes in a novel context and from a unique perspective.  Some questions we will consider include: What is the essence of Christianity?  How did Nietzsche define his own philosophy in opposition to Christianity?  Is (the Christian) God dead?  What is the cultural situation of Western civilization in the wake of the cultural event known as the “Death of God?”  How did Christianity originate, and what was its spiritual and psychological effect on the West?  Are we now in a post-Christian age?  If so, what does that mean?  Does the end of Christianity mean the opening up of tremendous new opportunities, or is it merely the beginning of a descent into cultural chaos and nihilism?  Upon completion of this course, students should come away with a solid understanding of Nietzsche’s philosophy, as well as a unique perspective on the essence of Christianity.  Accordingly, this course will be excellent preparation for further work in philosophy, theology, religious studies, or any area of modern and/or postmodern cultural study.  Required Texts: 1.  The Bible (any edition, of the student’s choice); 2.  The Portable Nietzsche (ed. Walter Kaufman); 3.  Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals/ Ecce Homo (ed. Walter Kaufmann).  (Only the Nietzsche texts will be ordered for the course in the UNM Bookstore.)  Assignments will include mandatory discussion participation, short essays, and a longer written assignment.

442 - Sem: Buber's Mystic Philosophy

442.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: W 4:00-6:30

Today the mystic philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965) has been largely forgotten despite the spiritual wealth that forms his religious, political and philosophical thought. Informed by the richness of his Jewish tradition, both mystic-orthodox and worldly-political, his thinking is too intricate to be easily pinned down to particular religious, political or philosophical positions. Buber defies intellectual-academic categorization and rejects the quick application of generalizing labels, such as “philosopher” and “theologian”.

An instinctive loyalty to authentic uniqueness liberates Buber toward a spiritual creativity that is difficult to be co-opted by religious-political and philosophical forces. Consequently, like many philosophers, Buber is not uncontroversial. His writing and thinking are filled with paradoxes, seeming contradictions, and enigmaties (onto-poetic enigmatic renditions). Thus, he rejects the 3rd-person monotheistic idolatrized god, and instead adopts a 2nd-person god of relation. He assumes Israeli citizenship despite his severe criticism of its Jewish nationalism. His intricate wording of the German language into puzzling verbalisms defies precise translation. Questions arise when trying to understand Buber. Was Buber a believer or an atheist? What is faith to him? To what extent is Buber’s cultural Zionism also nationalism? Does his so-called “Hebrew humanism” universalize the religious-divine to the philosophical inclusion of the other as an equal? How can one best grasp his philosophy if Buber does not provide a system of thought or a systematic terminology?

His most famous philosophical work I and Thou will provide answers to lead us deeper into his dialogical principle alongside other mystic-philosophical essays. Before this can be done we will have to do the groundwork of recognizing Buber’s anti-modernism rooted not only in the Jewish tradition of Hasidism, but also firmly situated within the existentialist tradition of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, who both influenced him immensely.

Finally, our exegetical work will allow us to see a peculiar linguistic-intellectual affinity between Buber’s writing and thinking and that of Martin Heidegger, which will entice and invite us to explore the relationship between the two. Hence, it is our task to struggle with Buber through his thinking and come to terms with the mysticism that (in)forms his philosophy. The seminar aims at being an “encounter” (Begegnung) with Buber in the hope of foregoing the likelihood of any “Vergegnung”, i.e. the dissonance of any dis-encounter, that is, an antagonistic mis-meeting often caused by intellectual-political and religious-philosophical hybris.

Consequently, the seminar is open to students of other academic and professional disciplines.

 

455 - Philosophy of Mind

455.001

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: ARR

Have you ever heard the expression, “It’s mind over matter”?  Is it meant to imply that the mind is not a material thing?  Descartes famously argued that matter and mind are distinct substances—the mind being neither material nor spatial.  But surely your mind, through thinking, causes your body to do things, like eat food because you desire it, avoid dark alleys because you’re afraid, or shake someone’s hand because you believe that it will seal the agreement.  How could a nonmaterial thing cause a bodily entity to do anything at all?  This sort of question will launch us into an exploration of the mind—what it is (maybe it just is the brain, but be warned, solutions to genuine philosophical problems don’t come that easy!), what kinds of states it has and events it undergoes, how it relates to (the rest of) one’s body and to other material bodies, whether a computer could have or be one, and whether consciousness can be understood in material terms.  Readings: TBA (I’m trying to find .pdf’s and perhaps a couple webpages to avoid a textbook.)  Grades based on three papers (two short (4-6pp.) and one medium (6-8pp.)), discussion, and several short quizzes.

486 - Sem: Later Heidegger

486.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 5:30-6:45

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is widely recognized as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, yet many of the views at the heart of his “later” work remain shrouded in confusion and controversy.  Focusing on a few of the works Heidegger composed after Being and Time (1927), this seminar will seek to clarify, explain, and critique Heidegger’s views on the significance of art, poetry, and language; his understanding of metaphysics as ontotheology; his reading of Nietzsche and linked critique of technology as nihilism; his criticisms of modernity and late-modernity and complementary vision of postmodernity; and, of course, we will address the issue of when exactly Heidegger’s “later” work begins and how best to characterize its most distinctive philosophical features. 

This course is good (indeed, indispensable) preparation for understanding much subsequent work in continental philosophy and the other theoretical humanities, which often take Heidegger’s insights as their own point of philosophical departure.  For example, Heidegger’s later work decisively shaped the concepts and concerns of such major continental thinkers as Agamben, Arendt, Badiou, Baudrillard, Blanchot, Butler, Cavell, Deleuze, Derrida, Dreyfus, Foucault, Gadamer, Irigaray, Lacan, Levinas, Marcuse, Rancière, Rorty, Taylor, Vattimo, and Žižek—and this remains the case even where these thinkers approach Heidegger’s thought quite critically (as they all do, in their own distinctive and interesting ways).  One thus needs to understand Heidegger in order to see where these thinkers are coming from, even if his is a thinking they seek (more and less successfully) to move beyond. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, background in continental philosophy, or consent of instructor.  Course Requirements:  This course will require a good deal of difficult and challenging reading.  As this is a class in the art of slow reading, you will be required to do the reading ahead of time and bring the appropriate books to every class.  (If it becomes necessary to enforce attendance, which I hope it won’t, that will be done with brief in-class quizzes on the reading assigned for that class.)   Grades will be based on any quizzes and on two high-quality philosophy papers or, for graduate students, one polished research paper.  Required texts:  1).  Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track “OBT”; 2).  Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity “HAP”.  Graduate students (or others) who would like recommended further readings on these or other topics should contact me.

526 - Sem: Vedanta

526.001

Instructor: John Taber
Time/s: M 4:00-6:30

Based on the mystical-philosophical texts of the Veda (the Hindu scriptures) known as the Upaniṣads (“Secret Teachings”), Advaita Vedānta philosophy is one of the great monistic systems of world philosophy. Its main teaching is that everything is Brahman, the primordial One that the Upaniṣads identify as the origin of the universe. In fact, Brahman, which has the nature of Being, Consciousness, and Bliss, itself appears as the universe due to an illusion. Everything now really is just Brahman, which is perfectly One. All diversity, difference, and change – the modalities of the phenomenal experience – are unreal. All beings that inhabit the world are, in essence, Brahman, including individual selves. The objective of Advaita Vedānta philosophy is to realize that you are Brahman, which (allegedly) effects a sweeping existential transformation. This is what, according to the Hindu presuppositions of the system, removes one from the cycle of rebirth (saṃsāra), hence all suffering, which is the announced purpose of other Hindu philosophical systems.

            After a brief survey of the Upaniṣads we will read key passages from the writings of Śaṅkara (ca. 700 C.E.), who is considered the founder of the system and one of the greatest figures in the history of Indian philosophy. If time permits we will also read excepts from the incisive critique of Advaita Vedānta by a representative of one of the rival schools of Vedānta philosophy (there were several), Rāmānuja (11th c.), whom many consider Śaṅkara’s philosophical equal. The debate between Advaita Vedānta and Viśiṣtādvaita Vedānta (“the Vedānta of qualified non-duality,” which understands Brahman not as an impersonal Absolute but as God), which dominated Indian philosophy after the demise of Buddhism in the eleventh century, is one of the richest and most brilliant sustained intellectual controversies of world history. The basic positions taken in this debate, essentially, monism vs. theism, map onto other religio-philosophical traditions, especially Christianity and Islam.

            Course requirement: to be determined in consultation with class participants at the beginning of the term.

            Readings: Patrick Olivelle, Upaniṣads (Oxford). Selections from Śaṅkara’s works will be posted individually on Learn on a weekly basis.

542 - Sem: Nietzsche vs. Christianity

542.002

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: T 2:00-4:30

Friedrich Nietzsche is the one of the most famous and influential figures in the modern era of Western philosophy.  One simply cannot appreciate much of the continental philosophy of the past century and a half without a solid grasp of Nietzsche’s writings.  Much of the greatest literature in the same period presupposes an acquaintance with his thought.  He is a ubiquitous general cultural presence as well, cropping up frequently in popular discussions of religion and morality, as well as in art, movies, TV, and pop music.  It is arguable that Nietzsche’s most lasting and influential legacy was his critique of Christianity.  In fact, Nietzsche’s three most systematic works were systematic attacks on Christianity.   In this course, we will give a close study of all three of these works: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Genealogy of Morals, and The Antichrist.  Our examinations will give attention to the intersecting philosophical argumentation and rhetorical-literary strategies that he uses in order to undermine Christianity in these works.  However, we will also spend significant time examining the texts of the Bible that form the basis for Christianity, in order to be better situated to judge for ourselves the cogency of Nietzsche’s critiques.  No prior knowledge of Christianity will be presupposed, for a basic knowledge of Christianity will be provided by the course itself for students who lack this.  Students who already have some background in Christianity will have the opportunity to review key texts of the Bible with fresh eyes in a novel context and from a unique perspective.  Some questions we will consider include: What is the essence of Christianity?  How did Nietzsche define his own philosophy in opposition to Christianity?  Is (the Christian) God dead?  What is the cultural situation of Western civilization in the wake of the cultural event known as the “Death of God?”  How did Christianity originate, and what was its spiritual and psychological effect on the West?  Are we now in a post-Christian age?  If so, what does that mean?  Does the end of Christianity mean the opening up of tremendous new opportunities, or is it merely the beginning of a descent into cultural chaos and nihilism?  Upon completion of this course, students should come away with a solid understanding of Nietzsche’s philosophy, as well as a unique perspective on the essence of Christianity.  Accordingly, this course will be excellent preparation for further work in philosophy, theology, religious studies, or any area of modern and/or postmodern cultural study.  Required Texts: 1.  The Bible (any edition, of the student’s choice); 2.  The Portable Nietzsche (ed. Walter Kaufman); 3.  Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals/ Ecce Homo (ed. Walter Kaufmann).  (Only the Nietzsche texts will be ordered for the course in the UNM Bookstore.)  Assignments will include mandatory discussion participation, short essays, and a longer written assignment.

586 - Sem: Later Heidegger

586.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: TR 5:30-6:45

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is widely recognized as one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, yet many of the views at the heart of his “later” work remain shrouded in confusion and controversy.  Focusing on a few of the works Heidegger composed after Being and Time (1927), this seminar will seek to clarify, explain, and critique Heidegger’s views on the significance of art, poetry, and language; his understanding of metaphysics as ontotheology; his reading of Nietzsche and linked critique of technology as nihilism; his criticisms of modernity and late-modernity and complementary vision of postmodernity; and, of course, we will address the issue of when exactly Heidegger’s “later” work begins and how best to characterize its most distinctive philosophical features. 

This course is good (indeed, indispensable) preparation for understanding much subsequent work in continental philosophy and the other theoretical humanities, which often take Heidegger’s insights as their own point of philosophical departure.  For example, Heidegger’s later work decisively shaped the concepts and concerns of such major continental thinkers as Agamben, Arendt, Badiou, Baudrillard, Blanchot, Butler, Cavell, Deleuze, Derrida, Dreyfus, Foucault, Gadamer, Irigaray, Lacan, Levinas, Marcuse, Rancière, Rorty, Taylor, Vattimo, and Žižek—and this remains the case even where these thinkers approach Heidegger’s thought quite critically (as they all do, in their own distinctive and interesting ways).  One thus needs to understand Heidegger in order to see where these thinkers are coming from, even if his is a thinking they seek (more and less successfully) to move beyond. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, background in continental philosophy, or consent of instructor.  Course Requirements:  This course will require a good deal of difficult and challenging reading.  As this is a class in the art of slow reading, you will be required to do the reading ahead of time and bring the appropriate books to every class.  (If it becomes necessary to enforce attendance, which I hope it won’t, that will be done with brief in-class quizzes on the reading assigned for that class.)   Grades will be based on any quizzes and on two high-quality philosophy papers or, for graduate students, one polished research paper.  Required texts:  1).  Heidegger, Off the Beaten Track “OBT”; 2).  Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity “HAP”.  Graduate students (or others) who would like recommended further readings on these or other topics should contact me.