Fall 2022

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

1115.001

Instructor: Lisa Gerber
Time/s: ARR

**2H 8-week online**

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.  

Required Course Material: 

  • Robert C. Solomon, Introducing Philosophy 
  • Aldous Huxley, Brave New World 
  • Various essays and lectures on Learn 
  • Film: The Matrix 

1115.002

Instructor: Brian Gatsch
Time/s: ARR

For thousands of years philosophers have wrestled with some pretty big questions. What is the world made of? How do I know that I am who I think I am? What kind of life is going to bring me happiness? In this course we will explore the rich history of the philosophical tradition through historical and modern readings. We will build familiarity with the philosophical figures that have shaped the world, analyze and engage with them, and come to a better understanding of the various problems and puzzles that we often take for granted.  

Required text:  

Introduction to Philosophy.  Michael Bratman, John Martin Fischer, John Perry. New York: Oxford University Press. 2021. ISBN: 9780197543825/ 0197543820

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, quizzes, 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.

1115.004

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

The lecture course is a general introduction to the basic questions and the main themes of philosophy using both the topical and the historical approach. We begin in antiquity and end in modernity to discuss cosmology, science and theology, epistemology, ontology and metaphysics, logic and truth, ethics and morality, religion and politics, mythology and phenomenology including existentialism. Much of the literature to be discussed in class will be made available online.

The main purpose of the course is the serious engagement with the ideas promoted in the classic texts of philosophy, i.e., training in exegetical (text-based) reading and participation in group and class discussions — in brief: training in philosophy.

There are no prerequisites for this course. The only requirements essential to the course are genuine interest in the exploration of texts and their authors, and the willingness to engage in (self-)critical — individual & collective — self-reflection.

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. 

1115.006

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

In this course, students will be introduced to philosophy (i.e., “love of wisdom”) through the medium of the philosophy of religion. No prior familiarity with philosophy, religion, or the philosophy of religion will be assumed. Such a staging ground offers multiple angles of philosophical analysis: epistemology, ontology/metaphysics, ethics, logic, and so on. Students will encounter the following questions (and many more): Does God/do gods exist? Is it even possible to comprehend divine entities with our all-too-human concepts? How does God/do gods engage in revelation (if at all)? What does it mean to believe in God/gods? Drawing from different religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, will enable students to investigate and interrogate the aforementioned questions from a variety of standpoints. Students should expect to purchase a textbook containing key readings (“Readings in the Philosophy of Religion: 3rd edition” edited by Kelly James Clark); however, all other texts will be made available to students at no cost.

1115.010

Instructor: Klara Hedling
Time/s: MWF 1:00-1:50

This course takes a historical and cross-cultural approach to philosophy, which aims at presenting philosophy as a global activity and pursuit of knowledge that is reflected in human history in every corner of the world. Unlike most courses on the “Introduction to Philosophy”, which typically begin with early Greek philosophy, the pre-Socratics followed by the classical period of Plato and Aristotle, the first part of this course seeks to challenge ancient Greece as the “only” birthplace of philosophy. Although we will be concerned with the history of the Western tradition of philosophy in this course, we will also consider the rich philosophical thought of non-Western traditions, such as Indian, Chinese, Jewish and Islamic philosophies. The aim of the first part of the course is to encourage a cross-cultural conversation among global philosophies. Although the second part of this course, will be more centered on the Western canon of philosophy, I am hoping that the cross-cultural perspective gained from the first part of course, will serve as a foundation for fostering dialogues between philosophical traditions developed at different locations and stages of our human history. In this part of the course, beginning from early Medieval thought, I aim to take my students on a journey through early and late modern philosophy, where we will consider enlightenment and post-enlightenment philosophy, and engage with the critical insights gained from major philosophical traditions such as German Idealism, Marxism and Feminist philosophy. Classes will consist of lecture, discussion, and group work. Assessment will be through class participation, reading responses and papers, and presentations.

1120 - Logic, Reasoning, and Critical Thinking

1120.002

Instructor: Tal Ben Itzhak
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

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)

1120.003

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

In what we say is true about the world, reasoning plays the most crucial role. The bodies of knowledge that we as members of the university produce, value, and utilize depend for the most part on our ability to reason. In the evolution of philosophical thought in different philosophical traditions, there has been a recognition of what constitutes good reasoning and poor reasoning. This recognition evolved over millennia into a body of knowledge that we will undertake to study in this course. This undertaking will aid us in not repeating similar mistakes when we argue for a position in our respective domains and therefore be in a position to construct strong arguments. 

This course will also open a philosophical investigation into the conception of critical thinking as merely the acquisition of a skill set. We will explore alternatives offered by different philosophical views and traditions and think together about how critical thinking may contribute to enriching our lives.

There will be weekly quizzes during the first few weeks, and as we progress through the course, there will be short writing assignments and a final paper. Readings for this course will include philosophical works from Ancient Greek and Classical Indian philosophical traditions.

1120.004

Instructor: Jack Swick
Time/s: MWF 10:00-10:50

In this course we will develop skills in argumentation, critical thinking, and reasoning. The first part of the course will cover how to analyze and assess arguments by studying the elements of argumentation: deduction, induction, validity, soundness, and more. The second part of the course will focus on applying what we learned in the first part to an assortment of texts and other media. We will critically engage with materials from a variety of topics and traditions.The argumentative and analytical skills gained in this class will be highly useful for students in their future classes and beyond.Required materials: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). Due to how expensive this textbook is, I recommend renting or getting a used copy.Handouts and essays posted on Learn.

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. 

1120.008

Instructor: Nils Seiler
Time/s: ARR

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.

1120.009

Instructor: Sanghyeon Kim
Time/s: TR 11:00-12:15

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. 

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 is a study of philosophy between 1600 and 1894 in which we will examine critical texts by Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant. We will examine their theories of knowledge and being as expressed in rationalism and empiricism. We will analyze and evaluate their arguments and consider the consequences of their ideas for contemporary thought. Of special interest will be the respective ways, manners, and modalities for doing philosophy which contribute to analytic and continental philosophies.

2210.002

Instructor: Penelope Haulotte
Time/s: ARR

Early modern philosophy is typically defined as the European philosophical tradition spanning from René Descartes to Immanuel Kant. This period is defined in part by the emergence of experimental and mathematical sciences developed in part by figures such as Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Bacon and Newton. These scientific discoveries implied a revolutionary overturning of religious orthodoxy throughout Europe, which in turn called for philosophical reflection: What of old religious beliefs can be maintained in the face of the successes of the natural sciences? Is there such a thing as a soul? How is the concept of a soul related to personal identity? Is knowledge possible, and if so, what are its limitations? What is the ultimate nature of reality? Does God exist? Do I exist? These questions were raised and addressed by a series of philosophers we will examine in this course: Montaigne, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Princess Elisabeth, Amo, Spinoza, Leibniz, du Châtelet, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. Throughout our readings we will address questions related to epistemology (the study of knowledge), metaphysics (the study of ultimate reality), and philosophy of mind. While one of the goals of the course will be to respect the historical circumstances of the authors in question, another aim is to show that the concerns of this period of philosophers remains relevant today.This class is graded via weekly discussion posts, a midterm, and a final paper. Regular participation is mandatory.

The only required text is Roger Ariew and Eric Watkins (eds.), Modern Philosophy: An Anthology of Primary Sources (third edition), Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2019, ISBN-13: 978-1624668050. It is important to have the third edition. All other readings will be made available on Learn

2210.003

Instructor: Mary Domski
Time/s: AAR

INSTRUCTOR: Mary Domski

TIMES: First-half, 8-week Online MAX (Start date: Mon 22 Aug 2022; Final Exam/End Date: Tue 11 Oct 2022)

 

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

 All materials for this first-half, 8-week Online MAX course, including the required readings, will be available through Canvas. Course assignments include self-check quizzes, short writing assignments, and three exams. All assignments have firm deadlines and will be submitted through Canvas.

2220 - Greek Philosophy

2220.001

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, online) and final examination.

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.

2225 - Greek Thought

2225.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: MWF 9:00-9:50

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 as well as new kinds of knowledge – 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 a part of the global discourse on humanity.

In this course, we will read classic works of Greek literature that were produced between the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, including 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, Epictetus, and Plotinus. We will mainly proceed by topics and will adopt a double perspective: a historical perspective that aims at understanding those texts in their own terms, however different their ideas and positions might seem to us; and a critical perspective to reflect about what these texts can tell us about reality, what knowledge and truth are, what a good life is, and what thinking about politics involve. We will gain an appreciation of the lasting impact that Greek thought has on our approach to questions concerning metaphysics, ethics, and politics (and will read contemporary texts that draw on Greek philosophy), but also how it can offer a powerful counter perspective to our most dearly held beliefs and assumptions.

2240 - Introduction to Existentialism

2240.001

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

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the living tradition of existential philosophy through a careful reading of some of its most influential and important philosophical texts.  This course will focus on four of existentialism’s classic philosophical works, Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death, Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity, and Heidegger’s What Is Called Thinking?  We will also read my Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity, seeking in this way to understand the living legacy of the still unsettled and often unsettling existential tradition. 

Course Requirements:  There are no formal prerequisites, but this course will require a great deal of difficult but rewarding reading, and you will need to demonstrate your active engagement with and understanding of all the required texts.  In order to facilitate your digestion of some notoriously difficult texts and issues, regular preparation for class and attendance will be required.  To measure your fulfillment of these requirements, grades will be based on in-class pop quizzes (10%), a midterm essay (40%) and a final course essay (50%). This course is excellent preparation for advanced classes in continental philosophy and, perhaps, for existence... 

Required Texts:  1). S. Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death, A. Hannay, trans. (London and New York:  Penguin, 2004);  2). J.-P. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, S. Richmond, trans. (New York:  Atria Books, 2018); 3). S. de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, B. Frechtman, trans. (New York:  Open Road, 2018), 4).  M. Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? (New York:  Harper, 1968);and 5).  I. Thomson, Heidegger, Art, and Postmodernity (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 2011).

341 - T: Aldo Leopold and the Land Ethics

341.003

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

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) was a philosopher, forester, ecologist, and conservationist. In the Sand County Almanac, he developed the land ethic that asks us to expand our moral community to include, plants, animals, and the land. The principle of the land ethic states: “Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." This course explores his philosophy and its relevance to today’s environmental issues.  

Required Texts 

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949)  [Almanac

Susan L. Flader and J. Baird Callicott, The River of the Mother of God and Other Essays by Aldo Leopold (University of Wisconsin Press, 1991)  

Course Packet available from UNM Copy Center  

343 - Contemporary Continental Philosophy

343.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: MW 11:00-11:50

The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the main figures and movements of twentieth-century Continental philosophy (i.e., twentieth-century European philosophy situated primarily in France and Germany). Many of the philosophical approaches and orientations informing work done in various sectors of the theoretical humanities today are linked to the Continental philosophical tradition. A shared tendency generally found throughout the figures and movements of this tradition is an emphasis on such factors as history, ideology, language, and sexuality as overwhelmingly important influences shaping who we are and how we experience ourselves and the world around us. The course will begin with Edmund Husserl and end with Jacques Derrida, covering a wide range of figures in-between. The movements covered include: phenomenology, existentialism, Marxism, structuralism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, feminist theory, and deconstruction.

354 - Metaphysics

354.001

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

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of “being” or “reality” in the most general sense. Traditionally, it has been regarded as central to the discipline of philosophy, or even as philosophy itself. Further, it is notoriously challenging intellectually. Accordingly, students in this course should expect to work hard and struggle with some very difficult reading. The payoff, however, is proportionally great: a significant sharpening and deepening of the mind and a more profound understanding of its fundamental questions. This course will introduce students to the subject through a sequential examination of four key “moments” in the history of Western metaphysics. We will begin with the work that gave the subject its name, Aristotle’s Metaphysics. In this work, Aristotle establishes a “science of being qua being,” and sets the terms of the tradition in his focus on what became known as “substance.” Then we will turn to the true heart of the metaphysical tradition, Scholasticism. From the 12th to the 16th centuries, philosophers like Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and Francisco Suarez established a rich discourse of systematic metaphysics based on Aristotle. We will look at the overall structure of this discourse through a contemporary introduction to it. Next, we will turn to the arguable high point of early modern metaphysics, the system of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics. Spinoza is notable for his turning of scholastic categories into a form of monism with a strong naturalistic tendency. Finally, we will look at the recasting of the question of being qua being in the Existentialism of Martin Heidegger. Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, two short analytical-critical essays, and a writing-intensive take-home final essay exam.

358 - Ethical Theory

358.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 9:30-10:45

This philosophy course aims to provide you with a firm philosophical foundation in some of the influential classics in Western and non-Western moral philosophy.  We will read some of the classic historical texts in-depth, with a focus both on engaged interpretation and critical analysis. We will explore topics in theoretical ethics such as the nature of right and wrong; happiness and well-being; and justice and injustice. This course also aims to increase your facility with dense philosophical texts and hone your critical and creative thinking skills, particularly with regard to ethical issues.

361 - Modern Christian Thought

361.001

Instructor: Joachim Oberst
Time/s: MWF 11:00-11:50

In this course we will conduct a twofold reading of the Biblical Scriptures. We will engage, on the one hand, in a philosophical reading of the Scriptures that informs the religious philosophy of Systematic Theology. We will also engage in an exegetical reading of the Scriptures that informs the religious-philosophical praxis of church communities, the community of Christian believers who advocate their revolutionary tenets of Practical Theology in acts of faith. The course provides a rigorous examination of the famous intersections between the fields of Theology and Philosophy of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Curiosity, open-mindedness, the courage toward critical self-reflection, a willingness to engage in exegetical (text-based) reading, and readiness to engage in class discussions are informal prerequisites for this course.

The course is taught as a seminar. The focus of a seminar is class discussion where much of the learning and understanding is done. Essential to success in the classroom are mutual respect, attentiveness, openness, willingness to speak one’s mind and sentiment, and the courage to formulate questions and comments within the rules of civilized and constructive dialogue.

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 one or 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. We live under rule of law. Law orders and regulates our human conduct. Law shapes and commands our public lives, our private lives, our political lives, our social lives. Law shapes who we are allowed to be, and who we become. 

Many of us take this for granted. But how does it all work?   What really is the source of law, justice, human rights? What is law’s purpose in human society? Does law ‘create’ justice? What obligates us to obey law?--must you obey ‘unjust’ law or law contrary to your beliefs? What is punishment?--is it vengeance, healing, truly deterring? And how are we to understand error in law, such as the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that a man, Dred Scott, was property, or the ongoing claim that Roe v Wade's legalization of abortion was a mistake?

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: 1) the sources, authority, and duties of law; 2) the source of rights, such as your right to personal liberty, to individual expression, to privacy; 3) civil disobedience; 4) race and law; and 5) the justice of punishment.

Coursework will improve your reasoning and reading, your familiarity with legal concepts and terminology, and your preparation for continuing undergraduate and graduate study in many areas. Students pursuing degrees in philosophy, political science, pre-law, public policy, sociology, criminology, psychology, peace studies, and/or public administration will find the course especially helpful, but all are welcome.

Course requirements include: mandatory class attendance and participation, thoughtful reading of assigned texts, short discussion posts/response papers, occasional quizzes, and one or two take-home exams. All course texts will be provided online--no text purchase required. (Optional hard copy text purchase will be available if online readings aren't your preference.)

Prerequisite: Any 300-level course. Or permission of the instructor.

426 - Sem: Buddhist Social and Political Philosophy

426.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This seminar is an experiment in de-centering the West and Western philosophical concepts in philosophical discussions of social justice. What happens when we turn to the Buddhist philosophical traditions of South Asia to understand social injustice and the mechanisms for creating social change? What might we learn and how might our analyses of social justice change? This class will use both ancient and contemporary South Asian Buddhist texts to explore the dynamics of social oppression and the liberation from oppression. Themes will include: self, identity, and identity politics; violence and non-violence; the psychology and phenomenology of oppression and liberation; and the ethics of attention and responsiveness. We will focus particularly on issues regarding racial oppression (and Black Buddhism), gender and sexuality, and caste and class. If time permits, we will also explore Buddhist approaches to climate change and ecological crisis.

442 - Sem: Marx’s Capital, Volume One

442.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: M 4:00-6:30

The most important achievement of Karl Marx’s sizable corpus is his development of the historical materialist critique of political economy, namely, his distinctive critical analysis of capitalism as a socio-economic system. Through a combination of philosophical-theoretical and empirical-historical approaches to capitalist economics, Marx painstakingly delineates the destructive and self-destructive tendencies inherent to capitalism. This critical analysis is crystallized in the crown jewels of Marx’s oeuvre: the three volumes of Capital and Theories of Surplus-Value. However, Marx not only left much of the outlined full scope of the multi-volume project of Das Kapital unfinished when he died in 1883—during his lifetime, he managed to publish only the first volume, which appeared in 1867. But, of all Marx’s texts, Capital, Volume One undoubtedly is his single most important and influential work. In his magnum opus, Marx brings to light the fundamental underlying structures and dynamics of capitalism as centered on the economic category of “surplus-value,” itself extracted by Marx from his highly ambivalent engagements with classical economists (first and foremost, Adam Smith and David Ricardo as pioneering advocates of a “labor theory of value”). The first volume of Das Kapital also contains celebrated discussions by Marx of such topics as commodities and “commodity fetishism,” the functions of money and its roles in distinctively capitalist economic processes, the reconfigurations of laborers’ working days and lives through techno-scientific industrial modernization, and the origins of amassed stores of capital in the violence of so-called “primitive accumulation.” This seminar will involve a close reading of the entirety of Marx’s Capital, Volume One.

442 - Wittgenstein

442.001

Instructor: Paul Livingston
Time/s: TR 2:00-4:30

The thought and writing of Ludwig Wittgenstein poses deep and fundamental questions for philosophical thought about language, meaning, and the critical foundations of contemporary life and practice. In this seminar, we will consider Wittgenstein’s philosophy in both its “early” and “late” periods, following a unitary guideline of investigation into the single problematic marked in the early Wittgenstein’s terminology of “logical form” and the later idea of “forms of life”, and attempting to draw out the significance of this problematic for the deepest and most pervasive problems of collective life today. This semester, we will focus in particular on the relationship between Wittgenstein’s thinking and the projects and results of Buddhist philosophy, including especially the Madhyamaka tradition of Nāgārjuna. To what extent and in what way do Wittgenstein’s early and later investigations into language, logic, and forms of life parallel or resemble Buddhist analysis of the world of appearances and the reality that underlies them? To what extent do Wittgenstein’s arguments about subjectivity and language parallel or resemble Buddhist critical discussions of the self or ego within the horizon of the Buddhist “no-self” doctrine? In what ways do Wittgenstein’s early and late methods suggest a critical reflection on the possibility and limits of taking philosophical “views” of reality at all? Finally, what are some of the practical and ethical implications of Wittgenstein’s methods of philosophy for the possibility of attaining clarity or enlightenment about the forms of life and the world (as, for instance, producing insight, recollection, therapy, or liberation?)

We will read several of Wittgenstein’s texts and writings, including the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the Philosophical Investigations, and transitional works, alongside relevant works by Buddhist philosophers (especially Nāgārjuna). Time permitting, we may also examine some related contemporary interpretations of Wittgenstein by recent “analytic” authors such as Kripke, Cavell, Conant, and Diamond

457 - Sem: Spinoza's Ethics

457.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: W 4:00-6:30

Spinoza promises in his Ethics to lead us to beatitude, to the supreme wellbeing, and that his propositions will take us to it “as if by the hand.” In this course, we will take Spinoza at his word by undertaking a close and patient reading of his Ethics, proposition by proposition, from beginning to end. The Ethics is Spinoza’s most comprehensive work that will give students a broad understanding of his philosophy. It presents a self-sufficient system providing a metaphysics and an ethics, an epistemology, theological and soteriological claims, a psychology and a physics, and even some aspects of a politics. More specifically, Spinoza’s Ethics addresses fundamental questions such as: are we free or can we be free? Does God exist and what is his nature? What is the human mind and how does it function? Can we understand and treat our emotions? What is knowledge? How can we deal with suffering? Should we think about death? Throughout his carefully crafted propositions, Spinoza sketches the possibility of a philosopher-sage who can navigate the difficulties of existence and still participate in human activities, from political engagement to watching shows at the theater. This is the philosophical richness this course will strive to investigate and assess.

Students will focus on reading the text of the Ethics, but they will also familiarize themselves with contemporary scholarship on Spinoza. There will be differentiating expectations and assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. In general, students can expect to make class presentations, write short response papers, and a final paper.

469 - Sem: French Phenomenology: The Theological Turn

469.001

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

This course aims to provide advanced philosophy students with a grounding in a major movement in contemporary continental philosophy. Phenomenology has, since its inception in the work of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), attempted to do justice to the first-person experience. Experience was to be described by the phenomenologist exactly as “intended” in the act of consciousness, “bracketing” the question of the metaphysical existence of the phenomenal object. This meticulous attention to first-person experience was designed to foreground, not the subject as it perceives itself in reflection (as in the constructivism and idealism of the Neo-Kantians), but rather the “thing itself,” as it originally “gives” itself in immediate consciousness. While Husserl hoped to use phenomenology as a rigorous method to set philosophy at last upon the sure path of a science, the most influential of his successors saw in phenomenology a means of acknowledging and recovering aspects of the plentitude of being that are overlooked, ignored, or systematically denied in the abstractive and reductionist methods of the modern sciences. In particular, inspired by Husserl’s great student Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the first generation of French phenomenologists, including such luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), sought to recover through phenomenology the concrete, embodied, existential, and historical situation of the human being. In its “first wave,” French phenomenology was characterized by an intense ethical and political concern, but one with a strongly atheistic tenor. That all began to change with the succeeding second and third generations of French phenomenologists. The leading figures in the later French phenomenological tradition, such as Michel Henry (1922-2002), Jean-Luc Marion (b. 1946), Jean-Louis Chrétien (1952-2019), Jean-Yves Lacoste (b. 1953), and Emmanuel Falque (b. 1963) pursued phenomenology in a manner that unabashedly showed an interest in issues, concepts, and questions from the Western theological (especially Christian) tradition. As with their predecessors, these philosophers started from the concrete, lived experience of the existing human being. However, unlike them, the younger phenomenologists in France were prepared to acknowledge and recover the religious dimension of this experience, as it gave itself “originally” in consciousness. Religion reemerged within (they held) a properly phenomenological practice, one that set aside questions of personal faith or metaphysical speculation in favor of the meticulous description of concrete, lived religious experience. Specific phenomena with a religious coloring or flavor, such as “the gift,” charity, the “parousia” (or “coming”), the truth and the life, the “call” and “response,” liturgy and prayer, suffering and resurrection came to the fore in their work. The result of this “theological turn” was arguably the richest and most productive strain of phenomenological research in the last several decades. In this course, we will examine representative texts from this movement within a seminar setting. While there are no specific prerequisites, students are encouraged to have a basic familiarity with twentieth-century continental philosophy before starting the class. Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, a short analytical-critical essay, and a longer independent research project.

486 - Sem: Early Heidegger

486.001

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

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is widely considered one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century.  This seminar will focus on his most famous and influential work, Being and Time (1927).  Here in his early magnum opus, Heidegger develops and deploys a phenomenological method in order to help us understand the ontological structure underlying intelligibility.  The result is a revolutionary reconceptualization of existence, selfhood, and being, one which challenges—and seeks to replace—central presuppositions philosophers have inherited from the tradition of Western metaphysics (especially in its “modern” age).  After reading and discussing the entire work, we will conclude the course by seeking to understand why Being and Time remained permanently unfinished and why Heidegger’s philosophical views began to shift profoundly soon afterward. 

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 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, 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, and Being and Time is the very best place to begin. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, some background in philosophy, or consent of instructor (which will depend on your willingness to observe the following requirements).  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 book with you to class.  If it becomes necessary to enforce attendance or preparation (which I hope it won’t), that will be done with brief in-class quizzes on the reading assigned for that day’s class.   Grades will be based on any such quizzes (for a maximum of 10% of your grade), with the rest of your grade split between two high-quality philosophy papers or, for graduate students, one polished research paper. 

Required text:  1. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York:  Harper, 2008).  Recommended Texts:  1. Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of the University (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); 2.  M. Wrathall, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Being and Time (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013); 3. Braver, ed., Division III of Heidegger's Being and Time: The Unanswered Question of Being (Cambridge, MA:  MIT, 2015);  4). Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1993 [1927]); and 5).  Heidegger, Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit, J. Stambaugh, trans. (Albany:  SUNY, 1996 [we will be using the Macquarrie and Robinson translation in class, but it can often help to have another translation to compare, plus the Stambaugh translation has some of Heidegger’s later marginalia inserted as footnotes]).  Recommended readings are optional for undergraduates but highly recommended for graduate students interested in pursuing further work in the area (and an ideal place for anyone to look for further clarification or a more detailed treatment of a topic).

526 - Sem: Buddhist Social and Political Philosophy

526.001

Instructor: Emily McRae
Time/s: TR 12:30-1:45

This seminar is an experiment in de-centering the West and Western philosophical concepts in philosophical discussions of social justice. What happens when we turn to the Buddhist philosophical traditions of South Asia to understand social injustice and the mechanisms for creating social change? What might we learn and how might our analyses of social justice change? This class will use both ancient and contemporary South Asian Buddhist texts to explore the dynamics of social oppression and the liberation from oppression. Themes will include: self, identity, and identity politics; violence and non-violence; the psychology and phenomenology of oppression and liberation; and the ethics of attention and responsiveness. We will focus particularly on issues regarding racial oppression (and Black Buddhism), gender and sexuality, and caste and class. If time permits, we will also explore Buddhist approaches to climate change and ecological crisis.

542 - Sem: Marx’s Capital, Volume One

542.001

Instructor: Adrian Johnston
Time/s: M 4:00-6:30

The most important achievement of Karl Marx’s sizable corpus is his development of the historical materialist critique of political economy, namely, his distinctive critical analysis of capitalism as a socio-economic system. Through a combination of philosophical-theoretical and empirical-historical approaches to capitalist economics, Marx painstakingly delineates the destructive and self-destructive tendencies inherent to capitalism. This critical analysis is crystallized in the crown jewels of Marx’s oeuvre: the three volumes of Capital and Theories of Surplus-Value. However, Marx not only left much of the outlined full scope of the multi-volume project of Das Kapital unfinished when he died in 1883—during his lifetime, he managed to publish only the first volume, which appeared in 1867. But, of all Marx’s texts, Capital, Volume One undoubtedly is his single most important and influential work. In his magnum opus, Marx brings to light the fundamental underlying structures and dynamics of capitalism as centered on the economic category of “surplus-value,” itself extracted by Marx from his highly ambivalent engagements with classical economists (first and foremost, Adam Smith and David Ricardo as pioneering advocates of a “labor theory of value”). The first volume of Das Kapital also contains celebrated discussions by Marx of such topics as commodities and “commodity fetishism,” the functions of money and its roles in distinctively capitalist economic processes, the reconfigurations of laborers’ working days and lives through techno-scientific industrial modernization, and the origins of amassed stores of capital in the violence of so-called “primitive accumulation.” This seminar will involve a close reading of the entirety of Marx’s Capital, Volume One.

557 - Sem: Spinoza's Ethics

557.001

Instructor: Pierre-Julien Harter
Time/s: W 4:00-6:30

Spinoza promises in his Ethics to lead us to beatitude, to the supreme wellbeing, and that his propositions will take us to it “as if by the hand.” In this course, we will take Spinoza at his word by undertaking a close and patient reading of his Ethics, proposition by proposition, from beginning to end. The Ethics is Spinoza’s most comprehensive work that will give students a broad understanding of his philosophy. It presents a self-sufficient system providing a metaphysics and an ethics, an epistemology, theological and soteriological claims, a psychology and a physics, and even some aspects of a politics. More specifically, Spinoza’s Ethics addresses fundamental questions such as: are we free or can we be free? Does God exist and what is his nature? What is the human mind and how does it function? Can we understand and treat our emotions? What is knowledge? How can we deal with suffering? Should we think about death? Throughout his carefully crafted propositions, Spinoza sketches the possibility of a philosopher-sage who can navigate the difficulties of existence and still participate in human activities, from political engagement to watching shows at the theater. This is the philosophical richness this course will strive to investigate and assess.

Students will focus on reading the text of the Ethics, but they will also familiarize themselves with contemporary scholarship on Spinoza. There will be differentiating expectations and assignments for undergraduate and graduate students. In general, students can expect to make class presentations, write short response papers, and a final paper.

569 - French Phenomenology: The Theological Turn

569.001

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

This course aims to provide advanced philosophy students with a grounding in a major movement in contemporary continental philosophy. Phenomenology has, since its inception in the work of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), attempted to do justice to the first-person experience. Experience was to be described by the phenomenologist exactly as “intended” in the act of consciousness, “bracketing” the question of the metaphysical existence of the phenomenal object. This meticulous attention to first-person experience was designed to foreground, not the subject as it perceives itself in reflection (as in the constructivism and idealism of the Neo-Kantians), but rather the “thing itself,” as it originally “gives” itself in immediate consciousness. While Husserl hoped to use phenomenology as a rigorous method to set philosophy at last upon the sure path of a science, the most influential of his successors saw in phenomenology a means of acknowledging and recovering aspects of the plentitude of being that are overlooked, ignored, or systematically denied in the abstractive and reductionist methods of the modern sciences. In particular, inspired by Husserl’s great student Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the first generation of French phenomenologists, including such luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), sought to recover through phenomenology the concrete, embodied, existential, and historical situation of the human being. In its “first wave,” French phenomenology was characterized by an intense ethical and political concern, but one with a strongly atheistic tenor. That all began to change with the succeeding second and third generations of French phenomenologists. The leading figures in the later French phenomenological tradition, such as Michel Henry (1922-2002), Jean-Luc Marion (b. 1946), Jean-Louis Chrétien (1952-2019), Jean-Yves Lacoste (b. 1953), and Emmanuel Falque (b. 1963) pursued phenomenology in a manner that unabashedly showed an interest in issues, concepts, and questions from the Western theological (especially Christian) tradition. As with their predecessors, these philosophers started from the concrete, lived experience of the existing human being. However, unlike them, the younger phenomenologists in France were prepared to acknowledge and recover the religious dimension of this experience, as it gave itself “originally” in consciousness. Religion reemerged within (they held) a properly phenomenological practice, one that set aside questions of personal faith or metaphysical speculation in favor of the meticulous description of concrete, lived religious experience. Specific phenomena with a religious coloring or flavor, such as “the gift,” charity, the “parousia” (or “coming”), the truth and the life, the “call” and “response,” liturgy and prayer, suffering and resurrection came to the fore in their work. The result of this “theological turn” was arguably the richest and most productive strain of phenomenological research in the last several decades. In this course, we will examine representative texts from this movement within a seminar setting. While there are no specific prerequisites, students are encouraged to have a basic familiarity with twentieth-century continental philosophy before starting the class. Grades will be based upon attendance and participation, a short analytical-critical essay, and a longer independent research project.

586 - Sem: Early Heidegger

586.001

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

Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is widely considered one of the most original and important philosophers of the 20th century.  This seminar will focus on his most famous and influential work, Being and Time (1927).  Here in his early magnum opus, Heidegger develops and deploys a phenomenological method in order to help us understand the ontological structure underlying intelligibility.  The result is a revolutionary reconceptualization of existence, selfhood, and being, one which challenges—and seeks to replace—central presuppositions philosophers have inherited from the tradition of Western metaphysics (especially in its “modern” age).  After reading and discussing the entire work, we will conclude the course by seeking to understand why Being and Time remained permanently unfinished and why Heidegger’s philosophical views began to shift profoundly soon afterward. 

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 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, 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, and Being and Time is the very best place to begin. 

Prerequisites:  Graduate standing, some background in philosophy, or consent of instructor (which will depend on your willingness to observe the following requirements).  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 book with you to class.  If it becomes necessary to enforce attendance or preparation (which I hope it won’t), that will be done with brief in-class quizzes on the reading assigned for that day’s class.   Grades will be based on any such quizzes (for a maximum of 10% of your grade), with the rest of your grade split between two high-quality philosophy papers or, for graduate students, one polished research paper. 

Required text:  1. Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (New York:  Harper, 2008).  Recommended Texts:  1. Thomson, Heidegger on Ontotheology:  Technology and the Politics of the University (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); 2.  M. Wrathall, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Being and Time (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013); 3. Braver, ed., Division III of Heidegger's Being and Time: The Unanswered Question of Being (Cambridge, MA:  MIT, 2015);  4). Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1993 [1927]); and 5).  Heidegger, Being and Time: A Translation of Sein und Zeit, J. Stambaugh, trans. (Albany:  SUNY, 1996 [we will be using the Macquarrie and Robinson translation in class, but it can often help to have another translation to compare, plus the Stambaugh translation has some of Heidegger’s later marginalia inserted as footnotes]).  Recommended readings are optional for undergraduates but highly recommended for graduate students interested in pursuing further work in the area (and an ideal place for anyone to look for further clarification or a more detailed treatment of a topic).