DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY
PHIL 110R 1M & 2M. Logic and Critical Reasoning
Prerequisite: Minimum Math Placement 22
This course is divided in two parts. The first part of the course considers important aspects of philosophical reasoning in relation to the Aristotelian tradition by way of the study of categorical logic, the analytic tradition by way of the study of prepositional/predicate logic and its different applications. Students will take exams and weekly quizzes to determine their competency during this part of the semester. The second part of the course helps students develop their critical thinking skills. Students will study an area of philosophy called the Epistemology of Ignorance. The epistemologies of ignorance ask us to think about how false knowledge is constructed. We will be reading material in this area on race theory, medical knowledge, gender theory, language, and food production. The second part of the class will be evaluated by weekly quizzes, in-class exercises and a final project. Math reasoning intensive.PHIL 200R 01 & 02. Existentialism: Meaning and Value in Human Existence
Existentialism is a school of thought that groups together a disparate set of literary and philosophical figures of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries because of its focus on the nature and meaning of human existence. Existentialist inquiry begins from the perspective of the human individual and addresses the events and values that characterize this existence. Studying the ideas of existentialist philosophers from Kierkegaard to deBeauvoir will challenge students to wonder about the meaning and purpose of human existence, to interrogate the roles of faith, beauty, freedom, and responsibility in that existence, to consider the human relationship to religion and God, to reflect upon how our relationship to death defines and shapes our lives, and wonder about how and whether we can live authentically.PHIL 200R 03. Ethics and Community
This class will take a look at ethical questions especially related to our (supposed) responsibilities to others. Thinking about the value of being part of a community, we will think carefully about the ways our relationships, both voluntary and involuntary, shape our obligations. Also, we will consider how questions of identity and agency influence our decision to engage in communal concerns and how they can affect our decision to disengage. By taking the class students should gain an understanding of some social justice issues, especially as they relate to education. This course will have an optional “service-learning” component. In addition, students will be expected to write three short critical essays, take a midterm exam and a final exam. There will also be short answer quizzes given weekly on the reading assignments.PHIL 203R 01 & 02 Mysteries of Self & Soul
In this course students will explore a range of definitions and descriptions of what we variously refer to as “the self,” “the mind,” “the soul,” “the spirit,” “the psyche,” “free will,” “personality,” “character,” etc. The two primary prompts for our considerations will be movies such as The Matrix and The Exorcist and texts from the history of philosophy and psychology, including Freud and Beauvoir. Evaluations will be based on quizzes, periodic tests, class participation, class presentations, and a final exam.
We will address questions such as the following:
1. Am I my body, or something more than but including my body, or something in but distinct from my body?
2. Can I be aware of anything except through the medium of my bodily sense organs? Can I have an “out-of-body” experience?
3. Am I the same person I was 10 years ago, even though almost every cell in my body is different? Would I be the same person if I lost an arm? If I became quadraplegic? If I were just a brain in a vat?
4. When did “I” begin existing? When I was conceived as a fertilized egg? When I became a viable fetus? When I was born? When I learned to talk? When I went through puberty?
5. Will I survive the death of my body in any meaningful sense?
6. What is the relationship between my conscious experience and the functioning of my brain? Are they the same thing? If they are different, how do they influence each other? Do they influence each other?
7. Do I constitute myself through my own choices and actions? Or am I constituted – made to be who I am – by the influences in my environment?
8. Am I free or just unaware of the many ways my will is determined by forces outside of me?
9. Do I know for sure that other selves exist? Could they all just be extremely complicated mechanisms like robots?
10. Am I just an extremely complicated mechanism?
Prerequisite: Phil 310 or permission of instructor
This course surveys modern philosophy from the late 16th century to the late 19th century, focusing on one of the central philosophical concerns of the period, namely, the human ability to attain knowledge of reality. In pursuing this issue, the relationships between faith and reason, and science and philosophy are explored. The course will particularly emphasize how the relationship between knowledge and experience shifts throughout the philosophical terrain. It will trace philosophical perspectives on topics such as knowledge of the external world, the existence of God, the nature of the human being, the relationship between the mind and the body, and free will, moving from the “rationalism” of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz to the “empiricism” of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, and to their reconciliation in Kant’s critical philosophy. Another focus will be the interrelation of knowledge and political, economic, and social structures and theories. Writing intensive.PHIL 380 1W. Plato
Prerequisite: Phil 310R or permission
This is a course on the development of Plato's dialogues. We will focus on what Plato achieved by writing dialogues rather than lectures or monologues. This is also a course on Plato's doubts about Platonism -- which we can discover only by attending carefully to Plato's use of narrative devices in his dialogues. We will read two "early dialogues" (Euthyphro and Laches), three “transitional dialogues” (Meno, Protagoras, and Gorgias), four "middle dialogues" (Republic, Phaedo, Theaetetus, and Symposium), and three "late dialogues" (Parmenides, Timaeus, and Statesman). Students will write two book reviews, three short papers on assigned topics, and a longer seminar paper for the end of the semester on the dialogue of their choice, including research in the secondary literature on their dialogue. Writing intensive.PHIL 400 1W. Senior Seminar - Advanced Research Methods in Philosophy
Prerequisite: PHIL 312 with a C- or better or permission of instructor
The goal of this course is to complete an advanced thesis in philosophy. We will work on writing time management, thesis construction, research techniques, drafting, editing, writing collaboration, paper presentation and critiquing others' work. Writing intensive.PHIL 490 1W. Independent Study
Prerequisite: Permission of instructorPHIL 491 01. Internship
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor