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Spring 2019

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.

101 - Introduction to Philosophy

101.001

Instructor: Michael Candelaria
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

This course is an introduction to philosophy.  We will survey the fundamental areas of philosophy including the following: philosophy of religion, ethics, freedom of the will, personal identity, and philosophy of mind.  Our focus will be on arguments, their analysis and evaluation. Our approach will also be a historical one. We will begin with Greek philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, then we will consider medieval philosophy, Anselm. Turning out attention to modern philosophy we will examine Descartes and Kant. We will discuss nineteenth century philosophy in Marx and Nietzsche. An examination of twentieth and twenty first century philosophy will round out the course—Heidegger, Foucault, Quine, Nelson Goodman, and others.  

101.002

Instructor: Idris Robinson
Time/s: TR 3:30-4:45

This course will address some of the major questions that have consistently reappeared throughout the history of philosophy.  How do we know what we know?  What is the nature of reality?  Is there anything beyond the physical world?  Above all, our investigations will be guided by the pressing ethical question of what is to be done?  

Considering both original texts and supplementary literature, our investigation into these age-old questions will begin at the origins of philosophy in ancient Greece.  In particular, the first half of the semester will be mainly devoted to Alain Badiou’s contemporary rendition of Plato’s Republic.  In the second half of the semester, we will attempt to move through the medieval, Renaissance, and modern periods to finally close with contemporary thinkers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein and Giorgio Agamben.

 In both class discussions and writing assignments, students will have the opportunity to try to untangle these thorny philosophical problems and critically assess some of their most widely renown theoretical responses.

101.003

Instructor: Marcel Lebow
Time/s: ARR

The discipline of philosophy is given short shrift in our culture today. Considered just haphazard opining, philosophizing is thought at best to be a statement one gives at a dinner party. One tells of "their philosophy," which inevitably amounts to a series of platitudes dressed up in long pauses and distant gazing. Otherwise, philosophy, it is said, has no place in contemporary society, and was just a series of lucky guesses and wild speculation only those in the past considered – a mere stand-in for a kind of thinking that the sciences now occupy.

Through a study of some of the classics of the Western philosophical tradition, this class aims to dispel such misconceptions and introduce one to the rigor and lasting relevance of the practice and study of philosophy. We will address questions that many of us wonder about at one time or another: Is there a god? What constitutes a good or evil act? Do we have souls? How do we know the external world exists? Does life have meaning?

What we will find is that philosophy at its finest delimits a field of investigation that, while informed by the sciences and other disciplines, can only be approached systematically through a kind of thinking unique to philosophy itself. Rather than a matter of paltry conjecture, philosophy puts limits on what we can say and think legitimately, and reveals to us certain possibilities of philosophical conclusion, separating from itself idle chatter and the remarks better left for books found in Barnes & Noble's quirky gifts section which predicate philosophy with one's favorite television show or movie.

Grades based on quizzes, exams, and online discussion.

101.004

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: ARR

***Second Half, 8-Week Online Course***

Can we know that God exists? If God exists, then why is there evil in the world?  What is the relation between mind and body?  I am not able to see or experience your thoughts, so how do I know that you have a mind?  Can science explain consciousness?  Can a computer be a mind?  What kind of thing is a person?  How am I the same person that ‘I’ was in my childhood?  (I don’t look or behave like that child.)  Does free will exist?  Is it compatible with a scientific view of the world?  Are there any grounds for morality? We’ll take this kind of topical approach to some of the most difficult and interesting questions in philosophy.

 

Required Text: Introduction to Philosophy 8/e, Perry, Bratman, and Fischer, eds. 

101.005

Instructor: Simon Walker
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

TBA

101.006

Instructor: Mariah Partida
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

In this course, we will examine a diverse array of key figures and concepts in the history of philosophy. In particular, we will address the following questions: What is the good life? What is the good death? What is knowledge? What is truth? What is love? What is justice? What is beauty? What is the nature of reality? What’s the relationship between mind and body, self and other, free will and determinism, being and time? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God? What is nihilism, and how should we understand it? What does it mean to read well? In what ways can we apply philosophy to our everyday lives? Proceeding historically, we will read and reflect on texts by major Western and non-Western thinkers including Plato, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, Confucius, René Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Linda Alcoff. In the course of the semester, students taking PHIL 101 will cultivate their own philosophical voices and their ability to critically reflect on some of the most pressing ethical/political questions of our time.

101.013

Instructor: Kelly Becker
Time/s: ARR

Can we know that God exists? If God exists, then why is there evil in the world?  What is the relation between mind and body?  I am not able to see or experience your thoughts, so how do I know that you have a mind?  Can science explain consciousness?  Can a computer be a mind?  What kind of thing is a person?  How am I the same person that ‘I’ was in my childhood?  (I don’t look or behave like that child.)  Does free will exist?  Is it compatible with a scientific view of the world?  Are there any grounds for morality? We’ll take this kind of topical approach to some of the most difficult and interesting questions in philosophy.

 

Required Text: Introduction to Philosophy 8/e, Perry, Bratman, and Fischer, eds. 

156 - Reason and Critical Thinking

156.001

Instructor: Robert McKinley
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

We encounter arguments all the time: in course readings and news articles, on social media and in everyday conversation. But how can you tell if an argument is good? When should you be persuaded? In this course, we will learn how to analyze, critique, and construct arguments. In the first half of the course, we will examine the different logical concepts and tools that are needed for analyzing and evaluating an argument. Then in the second half, we will apply these tools to a few philosophical essays in order to critically evaluate arguments "in the wild." No background in philosophy or logic is presupposed, but you should come prepared to think, talk, and write in a sophisticated, critical way.

156.002

Instructor: Cara Greene
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

Reasoning & Critical Thinking is a class that will teach you how to argue better. In this class, you will learn how to identify, dissect, and critique arguments, and finally, how to construct strong arguments within an essay format. The first half of the course will present ideas and tools that will help you identify and assess arguments, such as the ideas of induction, deduction, validity, soundness, strength, fallacy, and grammatical form, among others. During the second half of the course, we will examine essays that deconstruct concepts like nature, art, history and philosophy, and then analyze the presentation and strength of the arguments contained in these accounts. This class will be comprised of lecture, discussion, and activities. Assignments will include two short papers, two exams, and a final paper.

Required text: Hughes, Lavery and Doran, Critical Thinking, An Introduction to the Basic Skills (7th ed, Broadview Press).

156.003

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: ARR

***Second Half, 8-Week Online Course***

Most intellectual endeavors involve argumentation.  From short letters to the editor to complex philosophical essays, from simple everyday discussions to sophisticated legal debates, arguments are constantly invoked to support or criticize points of view.  The purpose of this course is to help you learn how to analyze, critique, and construct arguments.

The course material is organized into two main parts.  The first part is an introductory survey of important logical concepts and tools that are needed for analyzing arguments.  The second part is an in-depth examination of a few philosophical essays focused on a small set of closely related questions on cloning and genetic engineering.  Although no background in philosophy or logic is presupposed, this course requires a moderate degree of linguistic sophistication and a strong commitment to rational inquiry.

156.004

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.
Required texts:
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)
Elements of Style (4th Edition), by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, (Pearson) (ISBN-13: 978-0205309023 ISBN-10: 020530902X)

156.006

Instructor: Justin Pearce
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

TBA

201 - Greek Thought

201.002

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

Perhaps there never was a “Greek miracle,” as some have called it, but ancient Greek civilization certainly produced one of the most impressive periods of cultural and intellectual flourishing in human history.  During that period, cultural and political institutions -- including history, philosophy, and democracy -- were invented, and since then, these institutions have been adopted and pursued around the globe – making Greek thought not only an ancestor to Western civilizations, but to many others.

In this course, we will read classic works of Greek literature that were produced between the 8th century CE to the 2nd century CE, including The Odyssey, Oedipus Rex, and the Apology of Socrates.  We will examine different kinds of literary works produced during this period, such as an epic poem from Homer, a play by Sophocles, philosophical dialogues of Plato, and treatises of Aristotle, Epicurus, and Epictetus.  Our goal throughout will be to distill from this survey the themes and questions that characterize Greek thought. We will gain an appreciation of the lasting impact that Greek thought has on our approach to questions concerning metaphysics, ethics, and politics, but also how it can offer a powerful counter perspective to our most dearly held beliefs and assumptions.

202 - Descartes to Kant

202.001

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: Mondays 4:30-7:00

***First Half, 8-Week Course***

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 examine 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’, primarily, Locke and Hume. Their philosophies will be placed in the scientific context of the seventeenth century, and we’ll examine how the ‘empiricists’ attempted to integrate the empirical method of science into their respective approaches to knowledge and nature. At the end of the semester, we’ll take a brief look at Kant’s blending of ‘rationalism’ and ‘empiricism’, or what he terms his ‘transcendental’ treatment of the possibility of knowledge. Students enrolled in this class will be required to complete two short writing assignments and take three exams.

202.002

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

In this course we will study the early modern philosophers Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. We will read their most significant texts, analyze and evaluate their arguments. We will discuss the metaphysical constructions of the rationalist—Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz—and then turn to the empirical epistemologies of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. The capstone text of the course will be Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason where he systematically lays out a synthesis of the rationalists and the empiricists. Along the way, we will consider their impact on later philosophers and consider criticisms of Kant by these later philosophers from the nineteenth through the twenty-first century.

211 - Greek Philosophy

211.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

Philosophy in the western tradition begins with the ancient Greeks, and there is no better introduction to philosophy than to study their thought and writing.  In this course, we will attempt to develop an original path of questioning in critical dialogue with the Greeks, with the aim of locating ourselves and the problems of contemporary life more centrally within the problematics that they already pursued.   Issues to be discussed include, among others: the nature of thought, reason and the soul; the structure of time and space; language, meaning, and truth; being, change and becoming; ethics and the good; life and death.   Readings are from various Pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus.  Course requirements: weekly short reading responses, three short tests (open book, in class) and final examination). 

211.002

Instructor: Carolyn Thomas
Time/s: AAR

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 Plotinus—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 itse

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. 

244 - Introduction to Existentialism

244.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 12:00-12:50

In this course students will encounter the primary thinking of the existentialist movement. The encounter will bring us to question ourselves – our own conception of reality, the world and life — as we (think we) live and perceive life in (and as) the reality of a world we live in. An examination of some of the seminal texts and their authors (including key aspects of their historical and political lives) will introduce us to the main themes of the school. A thorough reading of their work (exegesis), scrupulous discussion (interpretation) and unreserved participation in these discussions (authenticity) will confront us with ourselves — both through the experience of existentialist thought and the thinking of the existentialist experience.
 
Existentialism is a philosophical school that has re-appropriated so-called real life issues: Birth as a naked given (thrownness), Life as an indisputable matter of overwhelming “fact” (facticity) and Death as the lifelong haunting of nothingness, the relentless imminence of despair (Angst) as an unyielding looming threat (finitude) to everyday existence are the general topoi that motivate existentialist thinking. These themes will be addressed more specifically through the examination of more specific questions: the (im)possibility of freedom, the (un)reality of (im)mortality, the condition of (in)authenticity, individuality and community, subjectivity and truth, being and nothingness, existence and essence, suicide and absurdity, boredom and anxiety, temporality and eternity, faith and decision, among many other questions.
 
Some of the authors we will consult are Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Buber, Edith Stein, Martin Heidegger, Simone Weil, Anne Frank, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Wilhelm Reich.
 
There are no prerequisites for this course. The only requirements essential to the course are genuine interest in – in the literal sense of the word inter-esse (being-with-in-between) – the exploration of texts and their authors, and the willingness to engage in (self-)critical individual and collective self-reflection.  The course is illuminating to people from all walks of life. It is enlightening also to other academic disciplines. 

245 - Professional Ethics

245.001

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)

352 - Theory of Knowledge

352.001

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

How can I know which of my beliefs are true, and which false? How can I know which appearances accurately represent reality, and which do not? It seems that we justify our beliefs by reference to other beliefs, but can we trace these chains of justification back to beliefs that are foundational (evident, self-justifying)? These seemingly simple questions open the door to one of the central areas of philosophy, epistemology. Philosophy of science (scientific methodology) is an important part of epistemology. What is the source of scientific theories? How does observable evidence confirm and disconfirm theories? When (if ever) does scientific theory become so well-confirmed that we may consider it fact? Is science purely rational, or are there inescapable irrational elements in science? In short: how much do we really know about ourselves and the world around us?

Texts: Michael Huemer, ed., Epistemology: Contemporary Readings;

Richard DeWitt, Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science (Second Edition).

356 - Symbolic Logic

356.001

Instructor: Barbara Hannan
Time/s: TR 11:00-1:00

Human beings are capable of making truth-preserving deductive inferences. Such valid deductive reasoning can be better understood by utilizing formal languages that simplify the syntax of natural language and lay bare its deep structure. In this course we will learn the basics of two such formal languages: SL (sentential or propositional logic) and PL (predicate logic). With regard to SL, we will study both semantic (truth-tables, truth-trees) and syntactical (derivation) methods for proving that sentences and arguments possess various logical properties (such as logical truth, logical falsehood, validity, etc.). With regard to PL, our attention will be confined to the natural deduction systems PD and PD+, which allow conclusions to be derived from premises by use of syntactical rules of inference and rules of replacement.

Text: Bergmann, Moor, and Nelson, The Logic Book, Sixth edition.

358 - Ethical Theory

358.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

Ethical Theory investigates core moral concepts, arguments, and thinkers. We will ask questions such as what does it mean to live a good life? What makes an action wrong? What does it mean to be a good person? This course has two main objectives. First, this course aims to familiarize you with some of the influential classics in Western moral philosophy. Second, this course aims to develop your critical thinking skills by requiring you to reflect on and evaluate philosophical texts and refine your philosophical reasoning about morality.

372 - Modern Social and Political Philosophy

372.001

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

Are you trying to make sense of our confusing—even maddening—contemporary political situation? For example, what makes a “conservative” conservative, a “liberal” liberal, a “Machiavellian” Machiavellian, a “Marxist” Marxist, a “totalitarian” totalizing, or even a “Trumpist” Trumpist? Or, how we human beings can—and should—best live together, given our human nature, needs, interdependence, and individuality? If so, modern social and political philosophy can help.

PHIL 372 aims for students to gain understanding of modern, continental European and American political philosophy and social thought, beginning with Machiavelli and continuing through Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Tocqueville, Marx, Nietzsche, Arendt, and contemporary socio-political thinkers such as Dussel and Agamben. The course also aims to give us insight into the political structures, institutions, rights, duties, and forces that underly and influence our contemporary American and global political situation. We will study and discuss such questions as: What is the ’social contract’ under which we live? What are the nature and rights of individuals? What is the nature of the state and its responsibilities to its members? Is inequality unjust--or necessary--in human society? Are force and violence ever justified? What is the political origin of punishment? What is terror? What is socio-political estrangement? What is, and should be, education? How does technology influence human society?  

Course requirements include: class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading of assigned texts, take-home short-essay exercises, occasional quizzes, and two exams. 

381 - Philosophy of Law

381.001

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

PHIL 381 is an introduction to philosophy of law and philosophical discussion about the nature, source, and authority of law. The course aims for students to gain understanding of the historical evolution of the philosophy of law and its central theories and problems. Guiding our study will be the fundamental question “what is law?” but we will also consider how legal philosophers think about the sources and authority of law; about different kinds of law; about the relationship between law and morality; about “rule of law” and its requirements; about race, gender, and law; about the nature of punishment--and more. We will read ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophical texts, legal thought, and court cases.

 Course requirements include: class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading of assigned texts, take-home short-essay exercises, occasional quizzes, and two or three exams. 

410 - Kant

410.001

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: T 4:00-6:30

Our primary goal in this class is to complete a careful reading of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (commonly referred to as the First Critique) and examine the so-called critical project that Kant sets out in this work. In the course of our examination, we’ll pay special attention to how Kant attempts both to respond to problems stemming from Humean skepticism and to accommodate key elements of Newtonian physics. We will also refer to works Kant published between 1781 and 1787 to get some handle on why Kant chose to change, add, and delete portions of the first (1781) edition Critique before the second (1787) edition appeared in print. Students enrolled in this class will be required to complete several short writing assignments as well as three longer writing assignments.

411* - Hegel

411*.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: TR 2:00-3:15

Situated at the beginning of the nineteenth century as the next towering giant of the history of philosophy after Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel has had an enormous impact on the past two centuries of philosophical reflection in the Continental European tradition (more recently, he has even begun to attract enthusiastic attention and interest from certain contemporary Anglo-American Analytic philosophers too).  Hegel’s thought is a key condition of possibility for such subsequent developments as existentialism, Marxism, phenomenology, psychoanalysis, structuralism, and deconstruction.  His revolutionary notion of “dialectics” and unprecedented manner of historicizing philosophical frameworks previously treated as ahistorical radically transform philosophy’s very conception of itself and its place in the world, with this transformation continuing to affect philosophy and other disciplines up through the present day.  This seminar will focus on Hegel’s first major work:  the 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit.

414* - Nietzsche

414*.001

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: M 4:00-6:30

This course will explore the development of Nietzsche’s thought and persona from his philosophical debut in The Birth of Tragedy (1872) to the culmination represented by his magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-85).  We will track his evolution from passionate romantic cultural revolutionary and pro-Wagner polemicist, through his traumatic break with Wagner and withdrawal into coolly-rational and skeptical aphoristic writing, to his ultimate adoption of a quasi-prophetic role with his proclamation of the death of god, the coming of the Übermensch, and the eternal recurrence.  Some topics to be covered include: the debt to Kant and Schopenhauer, the Apollonian-Dionysian duality, philosophical pessimism, the tragic view of reality, the justification of existence, aestheticism, the organic view of culture, the modern relevance of ancient Greek culture, the critique of Socrates and Plato, the nature and value of truth, the critique of science (Wissenschaft), the critique of history and historicism, views on education, perfectionism, the critique of religion and morality, views on femininity, the affirmation of life, and the literary structure of Zarathustra. Required texts (all in the Cambridge University Press editions): The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, Untimely Meditations, Human all Too Human, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  Course requirements: regular attendance and active participation; frequent one-paragraph response papers; two in-depth analytical papers consisting of a shorter essay and a longer term paper.  

441 - Philosophy of Race and Racism

441.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: MW 11:00-12:15

 This course addresses philosophical questions about race. 

* Do races exist? Is race a biological fact, a social construction, or something else? Should we eliminate the concept of race, or is it necessary for achieving social justice (given a history of massive racial injustice) and/or worth keeping because it can be used to celebrate the culture and achievements of groups of people with a distinct cultural history? 

* How does one’s race affect what one is likely to know about the social world?

* What is racial identity, and why does it matter? How does the significance of racial identity differ for members of different races? How does racial identity interact with gender, ethnicity and nationality?

* What are the central mechanisms of ongoing racial injustice? 

* What is racial justice, and how can we work to achieve it? How do one’s race and social position affect what one should do to combat racial injustice and oppression?  

We will work to build a classroom community characterized by trust, respect, and honesty. We will work to recognize the unearned privileges we may have (whether based on race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, documentation status, physical ability, or other factors).

We will begin from some assumptions, which are supported by historical, economic and sociological data: (1) there has been a great deal of racial injustice in US history (as well as in the histories of many other nations) and (2) race still plays a significant and unjust role in determining people’s life prospects in the US. This course will tend to focus on the US, though at times we will discuss the different ways that race is understood and lived in other contexts.

442 - Sem: Thoreau

442.001

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This course explores the rich and vibrant work of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). In his time, as in ours, Thoreau has been cast in dichotomies. He is criticized as a narcissist and misanthropist who cared little about his fellow humans. He is praised for this eloquence in articulating a philosophy of life as well as an exuberant relationship with nature. In this course, we will move beyond these dichotomies to explore the complex work of Thoreau-from his praise of deliberate living in Walden, to his radical experiment in his Journals in which he seeks to see nature, to his social activism expressed in his essays. We will investigate his influences, such Asian philosophy, as well as his influence on others, such as on Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

This course is interdisciplinary and reflects the comprehensiveness of Thoreau’s work. Through the lens of philosophy, we explore his philosophy as a way of life and ethical imperatives such as civil disobedience. Through the lens of sustainability, we consider ideas about simplicity, the value of other species, and the preservation of nature. Though the lens of religion, we explore the impact of Asian religions on Thoreau as well as his daily life as a spiritual practice. And through the lens of literature, we explore his experimentation as a writer.

454 - Sem: Plato, Nāgārjuna and Wittgenstein

454.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter/ Paul Livingston
Time/s: R 4:00-6:30

Metaphysics, understood as a discourse about being, implies a saying about being, and thus requires a usage of logos (as language and logic) that can uncover truth about what there is. This seeming entanglement of metaphysics, logic, and truth forces the metaphysician, the logician, or the philosopher in general to think about the specific nature of their relation, and whether there should be a priority of one of them over the others. Is it possible by means of a logically structured language to give a true description of reality, or of the overall metaphysical structure of the world?  What is the role of logical reasoning and dialectic in establishing as well as problematizing purported ontological and metaphysical truths?  Are there inherent limitations to logical reasoning about reality, and if so, how can these limits be indicated or understood discursively – without (or maybe through) contradictions?  Can a rationally structured understanding of being capture the pervasive reality of change, conditioned existence, and temporal becoming, or must any such understanding finally cede to the silence of a mystical, intuitive, or non-rational awareness of the character of being in itself?  In this seminar, we will pursue these and related questions through an interplay of texts from three historically distinct philosophical moments: the middle and later dialogues of Plato, passages from Nāgārjuna, one of the most important Buddhist philosophers, as well as from some of his commentators, and the “logical atomist” project of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.  More specifically, we shall consider how Plato’s invocation of the ontological priority of logically structured and timeless forms or ideas, Nāgārjuna’s distinction between a “conventional” or “dependent” and an “ultimate” level of truth, and Wittgenstein’s conception of a pervasive “logical form” at the unitary basis of language and the world both mirror and contest one another across widely disparate traditions and philosophical methodologies.  Through this comparative and critical investigation, we hope to cast light on the very much open question of the possibility of the project of rational metaphysics today.  

455* - Philosophy of Mind

455*.002

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.  Text: Mind and Cognition 3/e, Lycan and Prinz, eds.  Assignments TBA, but grades will likely be based on two papers (midterm and final) and short exams. 

480 - Philosophy and Literature

480.001

Instructor: Brent Kalar
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

This course will examine the existential and moral significance of nature and the natural, as they have been studied in a selection of works of philosophy and literature.  There will be attention to the relation between concepts of nature and concepts of: the cultivation of spirituality, human education and self-realization, the (re-)formation of conscience and a sense of identity, the means of negotiating violence and death, love, and sexuality.  We will also inquire into the value of the literary form for presenting existentially and morally significant reflections on the phenomenon of nature.  Required texts: Pierre Hadot, The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile: Or On Education; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature; Thoreau, Walden; Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire; George Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality; Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights; D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love.  Course requirements: regular attendance and active participation; frequent one-paragraph response papers; two in-depth analytical papers consisting of a shorter essay and a longer term paper.

486 - Derrida

486.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: W 5:30-8:00

Coursedescription:  In this graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar, we will seek to understand the philosophical significance of Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century.  In order to chart a course through Derrida’s incredibly prolific and extremely difficult body of work, the seminar will be guided by the (once but no longer terribly controversial) interpretive thesis that Derrida is best understood as a post-Heideggerian thinker: Derrida recognized Heidegger as the most important philosopher of the twentieth century and so sought to critically appropriate Heidegger’s views.  This means that Derrida developed his own views on the basis of Heidegger’s thought (as he understood it) and also criticized that thought where (in his own evolving view) it failed to fully develop its own most radical implications.  Derrida usually develops Heidegger’s thought by criticizing it (and viceversa), and we will seek to understand this often confusing intertwinement of critique and development in terms of the deconstructive methodology Derrida develops from his reading of Heidegger.  (The Derridean title of this course would thus be “Derrida on Heidegger,” where the “on” means not only “on the subject of” but also “on the basis of.”)  After some all-too-brief background on Heidegger, we will carefully read some of the many texts written by Derrida on Heidegger, texts in which Derrida critically appropriates and develops many of his own core ideas (such as deconstruction, différance, and writing under erasure) from Heidegger.  We will then read several works in which Derrida develops his Heideggerian (or post-Heideggerian) views beyond Heidegger, extending them into the domain of questions (for example, how should we understand the being of “the” animal?  Of politics?  Of death?) which Heidegger himself raised but left insufficiently thought-through and so relatively unexplored or underdeveloped (in Derrida’s view).  In this way, then, we will develop the hermeneutic hypothesis that Derridean deconstruction (following its hyper-Heideggerian logic) tries to think that which went “unthought” in Heidegger’s own thinking, thus taking Heidegger’s thought as its own “uncircumventable” point of departure, which Derrida thereby seeks to move beyond.  We will bring the course to its end by reading the brilliant final seminars Derrida gave while confronting the encroaching imminence of his own demise and rethinking (for an apparently final time) the great existential and philosophical question of the meaning of death. 

            Course requirements:  This course should not be your first exposure to continental philosophy (!); even students well-versed in continental thought should not be enrolled in this course unless they are up for the serious challenge of reading Derrida’s work, a challenge which will only reward those who can meet it with a great deal of their own time, energy, and thought.  (Derrida is probably the most difficult and, for those up for the challenge, the most insightful philosopher of the last fifty years.)  The formal requirements might begin to be listed as follows:  the self-discipline needed to complete a great deal of challenging reading; an open-minded willingness to struggle with texts that rank among the most difficult in the Western philosophical tradition (and which challenge some of the most cherished achievements of this tradition); as well as regular course preparation and attendance.  To measure your fulfillment of these requirements, grades will be based on a midterm paper and a final paper (and, if necessary—which I very much  hope it won’t be—quizzes to test preparedness) for undergraduates, or (2) and a final research paper (and perhaps an in class presentation) for graduate students.  Let me emphasize that this is an advanced course for serious students onlyAny student who misses more than two weekly seminars (without permission or formal documentation) or who comes to class more than once without the relevant books will be permanently disenrolled (as will students who demonstrate any other immature, irresponsible, and distracting behavior, such as texting or checking phones or computers during class without permission).  If you have any questions or concerns about these policies, please let me know during the first week of class. 

            Required Texts:  1).  Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity (Cambridge UP, 2011); 2). Derrida, Margins of Philosophy (U. Chicago, 1982); 3). Spurs:  Nietzsche’s Styles (U. Chicago, 1981); 4). Derrida, Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Volume II (Stanford UP 2008); 5). Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am (Fordham UP: 2008); 6), Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. 2 (Chicago UP, 2011).  (Other recommended texts by Derrida that are largely concerned with Heidegger include Of Spirit; Aporias; The Truth in Painting; The Gift of Death; Given Time; Remnants of Marx; and On the Name.) 

510 - Kant

510.001

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: T 4:00-6:30

Our primary goal in this class is to complete a careful reading of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (commonly referred to as the First Critique) and examine the so-called critical project that Kant sets out in this work.  In the course of our examination, we’ll pay special attention to how Kant attempts both to respond to problems stemming from Humean skepticism and to accommodate key elements of Newtonian physics.  We will also refer to works Kant published between 1781 and 1787 to get some handle on why Kant chose to change, add, and delete portions of the first (1781) edition Critique before the second (1787) edition appeared in print. Students enrolled in this class will be required to complete several short writing assignments as well as three longer writing assignments.

554 - Plato, Nāgārjuna and Wittgenstein

554.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston/Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: R 4:00-6:30

Metaphysics, understood as a discourse about being, implies a saying about being, and thus requires a usage of logos (as language and logic) that can uncover truth about what there is. This seeming entanglement of metaphysics, logic, and truth forces the metaphysician, the logician, or the philosopher in general to think about the specific nature of their relation, and whether there should be a priority of one of them over the others. Is it possible by means of a logically structured language to give a true description of reality, or of the overall metaphysical structure of the world?  What is the role of logical reasoning and dialectic in establishing as well as problematizing purported ontological and metaphysical truths?  Are there inherent limitations to logical reasoning about reality, and if so, how can these limits be indicated or understood discursively – without (or maybe through) contradictions?  Can a rationally structured understanding of being capture the pervasive reality of change, conditioned existence, and temporal becoming, or must any such understanding finally cede to the silence of a mystical, intuitive, or non-rational awareness of the character of being in itself?  In this seminar, we will pursue these and related questions through an interplay of texts from three historically distinct philosophical moments: the middle and later dialogues of Plato, passages from Nāgārjuna, one of the most important Buddhist philosophers, as well as from some of his commentators, and the “logical atomist” project of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.  More specifically, we shall consider how Plato’s invocation of the ontological priority of logically structured and timeless forms or ideas, Nāgārjuna’s distinction between a “conventional” or “dependent” and an “ultimate” level of truth, and Wittgenstein’s conception of a pervasive “logical form” at the unitary basis of language and the world both mirror and contest one another across widely disparate traditions and philosophical methodologies.  Through this comparative and critical investigation, we hope to cast light on the very much open question of the possibility of the project of rational metaphysics today.

586 - Derrida

586.001

Instructor: Iain Thomson
Time/s: W 5:30-8:00

Coursedescription:  In this graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar, we will seek to understand the philosophical significance of Jacques Derrida (1930–2004), one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century.  In order to chart a course through Derrida’s incredibly prolific and extremely difficult body of work, the seminar will be guided by the (once but no longer terribly controversial) interpretive thesis that Derrida is best understood as a post-Heideggerian thinker: Derrida recognized Heidegger as the most important philosopher of the twentieth century and so sought to critically appropriate Heidegger’s views.  This means that Derrida developed his own views on the basis of Heidegger’s thought (as he understood it) and also criticized that thought where (in his own evolving view) it failed to fully develop its own most radical implications.  Derrida usually develops Heidegger’s thought by criticizing it (and viceversa), and we will seek to understand this often confusing intertwinement of critique and development in terms of the deconstructive methodology Derrida develops from his reading of Heidegger.  (The Derridean title of this course would thus be “Derrida on Heidegger,” where the “on” means not only “on the subject of” but also “on the basis of.”)  After some all-too-brief background on Heidegger, we will carefully read some of the many texts written by Derrida on Heidegger, texts in which Derrida critically appropriates and develops many of his own core ideas (such as deconstruction, différance, and writing under erasure) from Heidegger.  We will then read several works in which Derrida develops his Heideggerian (or post-Heideggerian) views beyond Heidegger, extending them into the domain of questions (for example, how should we understand the being of “the” animal?  Of politics?  Of death?) which Heidegger himself raised but left insufficiently thought-through and so relatively unexplored or underdeveloped (in Derrida’s view).  In this way, then, we will develop the hermeneutic hypothesis that Derridean deconstruction (following its hyper-Heideggerian logic) tries to think that which went “unthought” in Heidegger’s own thinking, thus taking Heidegger’s thought as its own “uncircumventable” point of departure, which Derrida thereby seeks to move beyond.  We will bring the course to its end by reading the brilliant final seminars Derrida gave while confronting the encroaching imminence of his own demise and rethinking (for an apparently final time) the great existential and philosophical question of the meaning of death. 

            Course requirements:  This course should not be your first exposure to continental philosophy (!); even students well-versed in continental thought should not be enrolled in this course unless they are up for the serious challenge of reading Derrida’s work, a challenge which will only reward those who can meet it with a great deal of their own time, energy, and thought.  (Derrida is probably the most difficult and, for those up for the challenge, the most insightful philosopher of the last fifty years.)  The formal requirements might begin to be listed as follows:  the self-discipline needed to complete a great deal of challenging reading; an open-minded willingness to struggle with texts that rank among the most difficult in the Western philosophical tradition (and which challenge some of the most cherished achievements of this tradition); as well as regular course preparation and attendance.  To measure your fulfillment of these requirements, grades will be based on a midterm paper and a final paper (and, if necessary—which I very much  hope it won’t be—quizzes to test preparedness) for undergraduates, or (2) and a final research paper (and perhaps an in class presentation) for graduate students.  Let me emphasize that this is an advanced course for serious students onlyAny student who misses more than two weekly seminars (without permission or formal documentation) or who comes to class more than once without the relevant books will be permanently disenrolled (as will students who demonstrate any other immature, irresponsible, and distracting behavior, such as texting or checking phones or computers during class without permission).  If you have any questions or concerns about these policies, please let me know during the first week of class. 

            Required Texts:  1).  Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity (Cambridge UP, 2011); 2). Derrida, Margins of Philosophy (U. Chicago, 1982); 3). Spurs:  Nietzsche’s Styles (U. Chicago, 1981); 4). Derrida, Psyche: Inventions of the Other, Volume II (Stanford UP 2008); 5). Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am (Fordham UP: 2008); 6), Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Vol. 2 (Chicago UP, 2011).  (Other recommended texts by Derrida that are largely concerned with Heidegger include Of Spirit; Aporias; The Truth in Painting; The Gift of Death; Given Time; Remnants of Marx; and On the Name.)