18422

PHIL 122

 "Why" Philosophy

Ruth Zisman

 T  Th 11:50 am-1:10 pm

OLIN 201

MBV

HUM

Why? It is one of the first questions that we learn to ask and one of the last questions we find ourselves asking. Within its utterance one can hear the perpetual human quest for knowledge, understanding, and truth, for reason, ground, and cause, for warrant and explanation. To ask "why" of the world is to refuse to take the world as a given. Indeed, to ask "why" of the world is to begin to engage in the act of philosophical thinking. The history of philosophy can be read as orbiting around a series of important "why" questions: Why being and not non-being? Why good and not evil? Why suffering? Why death? Why God? Why me? Why philosophize? In this course, we will explore these questions and the ways in which they have been articulated and answered throughout the history of Philosophy by reading major works by Plato, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Freud, and Camus. Class size: 22

 

18420

PHIL 135

 Theory of Knowledge

Susan Blake

M  W  1:30 pm-2:50 pm

OLIN 107

MBV

HUM

This course provides an introduction to the field of epistemology in its current incarnation. We begin with a Platonic dialogue to examine the origins of many of the contemporary debates, then turn to topics in the current literature, including the analysis of knowledge, a priori knowledge, immediate perceptual justification, foundationalism and coherence theories, internalism and externalism, and perhaps naturalized epistemology. The course will culminate in texts that talk back to the tradition, which may include discussions of skepticism, experimental philosophy, and our epistemic dependence on others, including how the latter goes wrong as identified by feminist epistemology and social epistemology.  Class size: 18

 

18421

PHIL 140

 Other Animals

Jay Elliott

M  W  1:30 pm-2:50 pm

OLIN 101

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Environmental & Urban Studies  We human beings have learned to think of ourselves as animals, and to think of our pets, our laboratory subjects, wild animals and those we slaughter for meat as "other animals." Yet the lives of these other animals remained profoundly mysterious to us. Can we understand their thoughts, desires and lives? What do we owe them by way of justice, love or sympathy? What should the future of our relationships with them look like? In this course, we will approach these questions through a variety of sources, including works of philosophy, poetry, fiction and history. The course is part of the Thinking Animals Initiative, an interdivisional collaboration among students and faculty to further the understanding of animals and human-animal relationships.  Class size: 22

 

18423

PHIL 153

 Introduction to Feminist Ethics

Oliver Stephano

M  W  10:10 am-11:30 am

OLIN 308

MBV

D+J

HUM

DIFF

Cross-listed: Gender and Sexuality Studies  Feminist movements  and theories suggest that difference  matters when it comes to ethical life, and that attending  to the question of a good life requires engaging with the realities of sexism and other forms of oppression. Feminist ethics thus redresses some blind spots of traditional moral theory, and develops its own positive concepts of ethical agency, moral responsibility, and how to live well.  In this introductory course we will map the unique contributions of feminist ethics, with special attention to issues of gendered embodiment, difference, sexuality, care, and power as they impact ethical theory and practice.  Class size: 18

 

18366

PHIL 2044

 History of Philosophy II

Jay Elliott

M  W  3:10 pm-4:30 pm

ASP 302

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed:   This course, the second part of a two-semester sequence, brings the history of philosophy into the present through a discussion of key figures in modern philosophy, such as Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Fanon and Beauvoir. Central topics to be discussed include: relationships between mind, body and society; the possibility of scientific and other forms of knowledge; the impact of capitalism, colonialism and feminism on philosophy; and the emergence of distinctively modern forms of philosophical writing and practice. This course is required for all philosophy majors, beginning with the class of 2020. PHIL 203 is a required prerequisite. Class size: 22

 

18425

PHIL 224

H. L. Dreyfus: Skillful Coping, Robust Realism, and the limits of the mental

James Keller

 T  Th 3:10 pm-4:30 pm

OLIN 305

MBV

HUM

Is thinking the essential feature of human life, or do we use concepts to supplement other, embodied ways of knowing? If there are both conceptual and non-conceptual ways that we make sense of reality, might we need a more robust form of realism? This course offers an introduction to contemporary philosopher Hubert L. Dreyfus, who spent more than fifty years challenging the limits of our beliefs about perception, action, and human intelligence while introducing, clarifying, and putting into conversation continental and analytical-philosophical traditions. Readings include a range of Dreyfus' works, as well as texts by early and later Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty, Taylor, Searle, Rorty, and McDowell   whose thinking Dreyfus sometimes challenged and often reconfigured into original theories of embodiment, the nature of mind, the conditions of possibility of language, and the limits of relativism.

Class size: 20

 

18427

PHIL 230

 Philosophy and the Arts

Garry Hagberg

 T  Th 3:10 pm-4:30 pm

OLIN 202

MBV

HUM

This course explores the ways that philosophers (and philosophically engaged critics) have approached issues concerning the nature and value of art.  After a discussion of Plato's influential account of representation and the place of art in society, we will turn to questions raised by painting, photography and film, and music.  From there, we will turn to broader topics that cut across various art forms: Are serious (or "high") and popular (or "low") art to be understood and evaluated differently?  How do we evaluate works of art, and why do we so often disagree on their value?  And what, if anything, do the various items and activities that we classify as "art" have in common?  Readings include Hume and Kant on taste,  Stanley Cavell on the moving image, and Theodore Adorno and Walter Benjamin on mass culture.  Class size: 22

 

18428

PHIL 237

 Symbolic Logic

Robert Martin

 T  Th 10:10 am-11:30 am

OLINLC 206

MC

MATC

Cross-listed: Mind, Brain, Behavior An introduction to logic, requiring no prior knowledge of philosophy or mathematics.  This course aims at imparting the ability to construct correct formal deductions and refutations. Our text (available on-line free of charge) covers the first order predicate calculus with identity; we will cover as much of that as feasible in one semester.  There is software for the course, called Logic 2010, developed by Robert Martin and David Kaplan at UCLA in the 1990s and subsequently rewritten for the internet, that will assist students by providing feedback on exercises. Class size: 22

 

18424

PHIL 241

 Nature, Sex and Power: new materialisms

Oliver Stephano

M  W  11:50 am-1:10 pm

OLINLC 210

MBV

D+J

HUM

Cross-listed: Gender and Sexuality Studies  Oppositions between matter and consciousness, nature and culture, and body and mind structure much of the Western philosophical tradition. Recent work in feminist philosophy, science studies, and political theory, however, offers a different picture, grouped under the heading of "new materialisms." Here, materiality itself is viewed as active and animate; matter is not only shaped by cultural practices, but actively involved in forming cultural, political, and economic realities. This class charts a course through current scholarship on materiality, with special attention paid to the operations of matter and meaning, nature and consciousness, as they bear down on questions of political agency, sexual difference, and sexuality. Readings will include work by Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Judith Butler, Mel Chen, Manuel DeLanda, Elizabeth Grosz, Donna Haraway, Vicki Kirby, and Elizabeth Wilson, among others.  Class size: 22

 

18429

PHIL 247

 Philosophy of Mind

Susan Blake

 T  Th 11:50 am-1:10 pm

OLIN 310

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Mind, Brain, Behavior  This course discusses the nature of the mind as it has been conceived from the early modern period to the present, with influences from psychology, computation, and neuroscience. In particular, we will address the characteristics of the mind and body and their relationship to each other, as they are conceived in these periods, examining the many properties that we think the mind has that we do not think are had by ordinary physical objects.  If we accept the existence of these properties, we may have to accept that the mind is not a physical object or else decide we are wrong about the properties of the mind. Our readings represent many of the "greatest hits" from this literature, but also include some philosophers representing on scientific phenomena and a bit of science as well. Class size: 22

 

18426

PHIL 254

 Popular  Sovereignty in Theory and Practice

Thomas Bartscherer

M  W  6:20 pm-7:40 pm

HEG 308

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Experimental Humanities; Human Rights, Political Studies  The principle of popular sovereignty posits that legitimate political authority rests with the people, the very people who are subject to that same authority. It is the principle underlying the idea of a government that would be "of the people, by the people, and for the people." In this course, we employ a diversity of materials and methods to interrogate this principle, examining its origins in antiquity; the philosophical arguments, both ancient and modern, that have been advanced for and against it as a governing ideal; and the relationship between this principle and the practice of representational democracy in a constitutional republic such as the United Sates. Questions we shall address include: what constitutes "a people," in what sense can it be regarded as sovereign, and how is inclusion within, or exclusion from, this group determined? In what sense has rule by the people been regarded as legitimate or good? In what sense and to what degree do institutions of representation such as legislatures embody the ideal of popular sovereignty? How is the will of the people conceptualized and expressed? What is the relationship, if any, between "public opinion" and popular sovereignty? The course will encompass both theoretical analysis and empirical research, aiming to bring diverse modes of investigation into conversation. Readings will range from canonical texts of ancient and modern philosophy (e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, the Federalists, Tocqueville) to contemporary works in history, theory, and political science (e.g., Morgan, Key, Skinner, Young, Mehta, Page & Shapiro, Igo). Several guest lecturers will visit the class over the course of the semester. Class size: 22

 

18432

PHIL 302

 Philosophy Research Seminar

Garry Hagberg

M         4:40 pm-7:00 pm

OLIN 201

MBV

HUM

An intensive advanced seminar required of all philosophy majors in their junior year. A problem in contemporary philosophy is carefully selected, exactingly defined, and thoroughly researched; an essay or article is written addressing the problem, going through numerous revisions as a result of class responses, faculty guidance, and further research; the article is formally presented to the seminar, followed by discussion and debate; and the article in its completed form is submitted to an undergraduate or professional journal of philosophy or to an undergraduate conference in philosophy. The seminar integrates the teaching and practice of writing into the study of the subject matter of the seminar. Emphasis will be placed on the art of research; the development, composition, organization, and revision of analytical prose; the use of evidence to support an argument; strategies of interpretation and analysis of texts; and the mechanics and art of style and documentation. This course is required of all junior Philosophy majors. Class size: 15

 

18862

PHIL 316

THE BAD, THE UGLY, AND THE SICK: NEGATIVE FOUNDATIONS OF ETHICS

Artemy Magun

 Th    10:10 am-12:30 pm

OLIN 202

MBV

HUM

This course will take up many of the central questions of ethics: How should we organize our lives? What rules of thumb should we apply in difficult situations? What goals should we set ourselves? Can we control our emotions, and if so, how should we do it? Is virtue possible, and how is it different from vice? But there is a special angle under which the course will address these questions, namely: what should we not do and why? How do we deal with an offense or an enemy? Is one responsible for one's own trauma? Is there such a thing as vice? The paradox of our culture is that, focused as it is on enjoyment and personal success, its political and social imaginary is filled with demonic "axes of evil" and the cultivated emotions are those of depression or anxiety. Why is this happening? Are the current cultural rituals efficient in dealing with unpleasant expectations and memories? What are the conditions of tolerance and the conditions of enmity? We will try to approach if not answer these difficult questions during the course. An interdisciplinary set of readings combines philosophy, psychology, and cultural studies. It includes such authors as St Augustine, Kant, Hegel, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Freud, Arendt, Levinas,  i ek, S. Forti, and others. Requirements include participation, an interpretive essay, and a research paper.  Class size: 15

 

18430

PHIL 335

 Spinoza's Ethics

Oliver Stephano

 T        10:10 am-12:30 pm

OLIN 202

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Jewish Studies; Religion Spinoza's notorious Ethics published posthumously and banned upon its release in 1677, methodically treats classical philosophical questions including the nature of God, human knowledge, and how one might live well. However his conclusions are far from orthodox, as he famously identifies Nature with God and reinserts humanity firmly within the laws of nature. In this seminar we will study the Ethics with special attention paid to Spinoza's ethical theory. What makes the Ethics an ethics after all, and what role do the affects, passions, and conatus  (or striving) play in this unique ethical system? To this end, we will embark on a close reading of the Ethics alongside contemporary Continental and feminist Spinoza scholarship. This course fulfills the Junior Seminar requirement. Class size: 15

 

18431

PHIL 352

 Lost in translation?  Daoism and philosophy of Language

Susan Blake

    F     1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 309

MBV

HUM

Cross-listed: Asian Studies  This course focuses on issues in philosophy of language through reflecting on the Dao De Jing and the Zhuangzi. In particular, the course tackles questions of understanding others, of theoretical concepts in different systems of thought, of whether it is possible to say something in one language that is not possible to say in another language, and of the ineffability of certain philosophical ideas. Many of these ideas will be presented both through analytic philosophy and through the reflections of those who work on Chinese thought. No knowledge of Chinese is presupposed. We may also use films or perhaps fiction to elicit the strangeness of foreign ways of thought, including "Lost in Translation" and "Arrival". This course satisfies the Philosophy Junior Seminar requirement. Class size: 15

 

18583

PHIL 361

 INTRODUCTION TO CARIBBEAN PHILOSOPHY

Ariana Stokas

 M        1:30 pm-3:50 pm

OLIN 301

MBV

D+J

HUM

This course will introduce students to the rich tradition of philosophical ideas in the Caribbean. The course will aim at doing philosophy and not only knowing philosophers. This distinction is important as areas with a legacy of epistemological colonialism, like the Caribbean, have many works that contain a substratum of philosophical ideas but have not necessarily been welcomed as canonical works of philosophy. Thus we will seek to engage in philosophy as a questioning activity that attempts to answer epistemic, aesthetic, normative and metaphysical questions. Some threads of analysis unique to this geography that this course will cover, include: the idea that philosophy is a contextual project rooted in a specific place rather than an abstract, ideal theory; the effect of colonialism on culture and education; the exploration of creolization; and the critical analysis of "modernity" as a European project. Course texts include works by Edouard Glissant, Wilson Harris, Eugenio Maria Hostos, Julia de Burgos and Franz Fanon.  Class size: 15

 

 

Cross-listed courses:

 

18177

GER 331

 Poetry and Philosophy

Thomas Wild

 T  Th 11:50 am-1:10 pm

OLIN 107

FL

FLLC

Cross-listed: Philosophy

 

18077

MATH 105

 Mathematical Perspectives   on Philosophical Paradoxes

Steven Simon

M W    11:50 am-1:10 pm

HEG 102

MC

MATC

Cross-listed: Experimental Humanities; Philosophy