Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Courses

All courses are 3 credits unless noted otherwise.

PHIL 160. Reality & Illusion

In this course, students will engage in a journey of inquiry into how we can think about the relation between existence and knowledge. Disagreements about what counts as ‘real' can have serious implications for the way we live. Some think the senses best inform us about what is real; others claim it is reason that does this; still others propose our knowledge of reality derives from divine revelation or religious belief; and some see reality as a product of a malleable social agreement. Together, members of the class will address competing notions of reality, illusion, truth, evidence, opinion, fact, and fiction. Are communities reliable guides to what is real, or should thinkers who wish to know what is real strike out on their own? Can we ever really know? If so, how can we acquire knowledge? Can fictional works tell or reveal truth? Can truth give rise to fiction? The course will not provide answers to this set of questions, but will introduce students to a series of conceptual approaches to conceiving the nature of reality and accounting for our access to or participation in it.

PHIL 170. Who I Am

Through an engagement with philosophers writing and thinking from different perspectives, this course addresses theories of identity, self, and soul; immortality and death; narrative and dialogue; relations among selves, others, and communities; and issues of ethical, social, and political responsibility. Some of the questions it asks include: Am I still the same ‘me' I was 10 years ago or is there a ‘me' at all? What does it mean to be a self and is that what we actually are? What kinds of accounts or narratives can express personal or private experiences? How do we understand about the viewpoints of another self or a stranger? What are the relationships between identity and memory, personhood and religious belief, individuality and community? How does my sense of self impact my relations with others or with God? What does it mean to achieve personal fulfillment? Are my goals driven by others' expectations or community values? The course will not provide answers to this set of questions, but will introduce students to a series of conceptual approaches to thinking through the nature of the self.

PHIL 180. Democracy & Justice

What is democracy? Originally it meant ‘rule of the people', but who are the people and what does it mean to rule? Through an engagement with philosophers writing and thinking from a variety of perspectives, this course considers concepts of democracy and justice, how they may be threatened, and in what senses they may be worth defending. Some of the questions it asks include: Are ‘the people' individuals or a community? Do equality and freedom complement or oppose each other? May a majority do whatever it decides is best or must it respect individual rights? In what sense may rights or obligations follow from concepts of justice, and what are political rights or obligations in the first place? In what sense do social exclusion and oppression (racism, sexism, religious persecution, etc.) impact democracy? Is democracy itself just or does justice demand something more? The course will not provide answers to this set of questions, but will introduce students to a series of conceptual approaches to thinking through the world we inhabit together.

PHIL 190. Global Thought

This course takes a comparative and cross-cultural approach to global philosophies, with each section treating philosophical texts and perspectives from at least two distinctive thought traditions, including Indian philosophies, Chinese philosophies, Mediterranean philosophies, Africana philosophies, Native American philosophies, Japanese philosophies, Islamic philosophies, European philosophies, or Latin American philosophies (no section will engage only European and Mediterranean thought). Some of the questions it treats include: What do philosophers from different cultures have to say about the nature of reality, the self, the divine, goodness, and justice? Are there questions or universal truths shared across philosophical cultures or does each culture respond to its own particular questions and have its own distinctive philosophy? Is it even possible to engage a worldview different from our own? The course will not provide answers to this set of questions, but instead introduces students to a series of conceptual and comparative approaches to a multiplicity of global thought traditions.

PHIL 106. Logic

Analysis of the requirements for valid reasoning, logical fallacies, types of definitions, and important informal aspects of arguments in ordinary discourse will be studied, in addition to the formal logic of inferences involving simple and compound statements. This course is taught at least once a year.

PHIL 116. Environmental Ethics

This course examines several facets of the ethical demands that the environment, particularly now in the 21st century, places on us. Do we have a right to use non renewable sources of energy when renewable sources are available? As regards our relation to the environment, what are our responsibilities to future generations? Can an individual be faulted for misuse of resources, or are these uses determined only and sufficiently by market forces? Several key texts in environmental ethics will be examined to help address these questions.

PHIL 151. Philosophical Ethics

The fundamental question of ethics is: How ought we live? This course provides a survey of and engagement with classical and contemporary theoretical frameworks for asking and answering this question. It may also consider the relation between ethics and morality, differences between ethical reasoning and the articulation of belief, the nature of free will and the responsibility it may imply, as well as practical applications of ethical theory.

PHIL 200. Introduction to Phenomenology

This course touches on the works of several contemporary phenomenologists, such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. We look to how phenomenology has been taken up in other areas of contemporary philosophy as well as the historical roots of this movement. Also offered at the 300- and 400-levels.

PHIL 201. Race Matters: Philosophy and Literary Perspectives

Open to both philosophy and non-philosophy majors at all levels, this course raises significant and fascinating contemporary philosophical questions about the nature of race and racism: What does it mean to be “white”? What does it mean to be “black”? Is race a social construction? What is the meaning of racism and does it still exist? How does racism inform the works of many European philosophers? These questions and more are explored in the works of contemporary philosophers and literary figures.

PHIL 203. Philosophy of Religion

This course will ask such intellectual questions as, Does God exist? How can we think of God if God is ineffable? Is God a person? How can God be good if there is so much evil in the world? It will also include a comparative religion approach trying to identify the characteristics of religion and what all the great religions have in common. We will also discuss religious experience, the religious impulse, the authenticity of the religious dimension of human life.

PHIL 204. Philosophy and Literature

In this course, we read works of literature for philosophical insights, paired with philosophical texts about literature in general, and about themes in particular literary texts. For this semester's selection of readings, please see this semester's syllabus and/or contact the instructor of the course.

PHIL 205. Plato

This course will survey the dialogues of Plato, attending primarily to their philosophical argumentation, but also to their dramatic composition and historical context.

PHIL 206. Philosophy and Film

This course considers the art of cinema from a philosophical perspective. We will study aspects of film art such as montage and close-up, flashback and point of view, representational and abstract images, and audio-visual parallels and special effects compositing. We investigate these both for their aesthetic meaning, and as philosophical concepts that tell us about the nature of mind, knowledge, and reality.

PHIL 207. Philosophy of Animals

This course examines the moral status of non-human animals in the western philosophical tradition. We will read such philosophers as Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, Bentham, and Singer. The course also looks at the mercy perspective developed by Primatt and Scully.

PHIL 208W. Existentialism

We will work our way through a family of thinkers often labeled existentialists, such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus. Our study will be guided by means of a few shared themes: freedom, anguish, responsibility and meaning.

PHIL 209. African Philosophy

Philosophy began in Africa, with ancient Egyptian concepts of justice and soul, and relations between humans and gods. More recently, colonial and post-colonial African philosophers deal with reason and culture, time and destiny, witchcraft and aesthetics, religion and modernism, ethics and community, politics and the philosophy of history, independence and freedom. This seminar will engage both the history African thought, its postcolonial present, and its influence on schools of contemporary African-American thought, including aesthetic, political, literary, and philosophical schools such as Afropessimism, necropolitics, and Afrofuturism.

PHIL 210. Marx

This course is a close reading of several primary works of Marx and his followers.

PHIL 211. Environmental Philosophy

This course offers a critical examination of a variety of current ways of thinking about the environment, aimed at developing a satisfactory philosophical approach. Regardless of how we have lived on the earth, how ought we to live? How should we go about deciding that question? Specific issues to be addressed include: Do things other than human beings have value in themselves, or only because humans value them? Do non-organic entities (water, rock 'landscapes') possess value? If so, what sort? How should we construe the relationship between economics and the environment? What is the nature of 'Nature'? What, if any, political or cultural factors underlie environmental exploitation? What are some alternative visions of how humans can or should relate to their environments?

PHIL 212. Political Philosophy

This course explores philosophical approaches to fundamental questions about politics and the political. Topics may include the origin of the state, justice, freedom, war, and revolution. Readings may be chosen from works by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel, and Marx.

PHIL 214. Philosophy of Sex

This course provides an introduction to basic themes and texts, both traditional and contemporary, concerning the relation between sex and love. It also examines some issues of sexual ethics.

PHIL 216W. Social Justice

The course contains arguments encouraging non-violent, rational change through legislation. It aims at equipping citizens in a globalizing society to think critically for themselves about specific, timely issues. These include racial justice, economic justice, universal health care, and gender equality. As a service-learning course, students work with preselected community agencies related to social justice issues studied in the course.

PHIL 218W. African American Philosophy

This course examines the works of past and contemporary African American philosophers and other Black thinkers of the Diaspora in an effort to understand the philosophical significance of the Black experience.

PHIL 219. Christian Philosophy

This course studies the meaning of the Incarnation of Christ and other basic Christian symbols. It analyzes these in relation to the nature of religious knowledge, the problem of evil in biblical experience, and phenomenology of the holy.

PHIL 220. Philosophy of Death and Living

This course provides an introduction to traditional and contemporary themes and texts related to this topic. In asking how human beings can be happy in the face of death, it emphasizes the art of living.

PHIL 221. Epistemology

This course discusses the theory of knowledge, suitable objects of knowledge, and how we go about gaining knowledge and possible limits of knowledge.

PHIL 222. Problems in Feminism

In this course we address a variety of problems in feminist philosophy, from ethics, to politics, to metaphysics and ontology. A main focus will be to examine not only how feminism challenges certain presumptions in tradition disciplines but also some of the discussions arising within the different areas of feminism itself.

PHIL 226. Critical Race

This course explores the meaning of race, its historical emergence, and its current maintenance through power structures, normative and epistemological assumptions. The "critical" in Critical Race theory denotes the importance of resisting the calcification of race categories.

PHIL 228. Buddhist Philosophy

Indian and Tibetan Buddhism — are these religions or philosophies? What is Enlightenment? What is the Middle Way? Who was Siddhartha? What is the Buddhist critique of “Spiritual Materialism”? Is there any way to link these ideas to Western religious and philosophical traditions? We’ll answer these questions by looking at: 1) the history of Buddhism in India and its later adoption by the Tibetans in the Middle Ages (how the rich Tibetan tradition of scholarship and rituals develops and transforms the original Indian tradition); 2) the central tenets and philosophical ideas in the main branches of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (including 21st century): 3) the amazingly varied and richly imaginative Indian and Tibetan Buddhist art from a variety of periods; 4) how all of this relates to Western philosophical and religious traditions. Prerequisite: Basic Philosophical Questions

PHIL 231. History of Political Philosophy

This course engages core texts, ideas, and arguments from the history of political philosophy, running from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century.

PHIL 232. Philosophy of Sex and Love

This course explores sex, sexuality, and the relationship between sex and love in terms of intimacy. We will be examining philosophical texts both from the ancient and the contemporary time periods. Questions for discussion will include: How should we define love? Is there a necessary connection between love and sex? What are the ethics associated with sex and love? What is the relation between sex, love, and perversion? These and many other questions will be considered throughout the course.

PHIL 236. Environmental Ethics

This course examines the various theoretical frameworks that address our moral obligations to the natural environment. We will discuss the Judeo-Christian perspectives, the land ethic, deep ecology, ecological feminism, social ecology and non-western perspectives. The course includes a community-engaged teaching component.

PHIL 237. Yoga Philosophy and Practice

Is the practice of yoga a form of philosophy? How do Western and Eastern traditions understand and make use of the mind and the body? We will investigate these questions by looking at classical yoga texts and contemporary philosophy of the body, dividing our time equally between classroom discussion and studio practice. No previous experience with yoga necessary.

PHIL 238W. Exploring Social Justice

This course philosophically explores the nature and current state of core areas of social justice: class, race, immigration, healthcare, the global environment, and gender. At the center of our exploration will be an examination of how the value of human dignity can inform approaches to these issues.

PHIL 239. Black Mirror and Philosophy

This course will use texts from the history of Western philosophy, and some from recent philosophical authors, to understand the deep and timely series, Black Mirror. It will also use episodes of this series to illustrate and interrogate the philosophical texts. Students will thus learn some of the most interesting and influential philosophical ideas ever conceived, but also how these ideas are as important now as when they were first written. Black Mirror presents a dark image of our own times, and philosophy is as urgent a tool for living in them as it always has been. Also offered at the 400-level.

PHIL 240. Evolutionary Philosophy

Humans are animals that have evolved. This has been known for nearly two centuries, but it has barely yet made a difference to philosophical thinking about human life. This course will explore how we should think differently in light of this knowledge. In its first half, we will examine Darwin and Nietzsche, whose accounts of life are in many ways similar but diverge over whether there is a life-force at work in the world or the world is merely matter operating according to laws. In its second half, we will look at recent efforts (particularly in evolutionary psychology) to incorporate their insights into a scientifically credible and philosophically useful account of human life. Topics of special interest will include: power, status, mating, gender, emotions, and reason.

PHIL 250. Ethics and Technology

This course explores ethical issues surrounding the use and development of technology in daily life, such as data privacy, the influence of social media on well-being, biases in search engines, technology's role in perfecting human nature, the ethics of genetic modification, and other topics.

PHIL 251. Ethical Theory

This course builds on the foundations established in BRDG 105 introduction to Ethical Reasoning (or other introductory-level ethics courses), critically engaging its theoretical frameworks at a deeper level. The course involves careful readings of classical and contemporary work in ethical theory engaging several of the following theoretical frameworks: of meta-ethics, virtue theory, utilitarianism, deontology, contractarianism, social justice theory, and feminist ethics.

PHIL 252. Health Care Ethics

Ethical questions that arise in medical care and research will be examined. Topics might include: doctor/patient relations, informed consent, euthanasia, the definitions of health, person, and death.

PHIL 253. Native American Philosophy

This course will examine the philosophy of the Lakota Tradition. This is the tradition of Black Elk, Big Foot and those who lost their lives at Wounded Knee in 1890. The course will examine Black Elk Speaks and the Sacred Pipe.

PHIL 255. Philosophy of Technology

This course examines philosophically how our lives are shaped by technology and the relation of technology to science, art, and politics.

PHIL 256. Philosophy of Emotion

This course will question the traditional view and place of emotions. We will examine both historical and contemporary writings on the emotions and will consider how philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, have portrayed the relationship between emotion and reason, knowledge, morality, gender, embodiment and law.

PHIL 257. America and Antiquity

This course begins with the Constitution of the USA, and the thinking of the founders who wrote it (especially the Federalist Papers). It then shows their debt to ancient Greek and Roman authors (Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, and Tacitus, among others). One goal is therefore to appreciate the intellectual history that influenced the founders, but another is to understand and assess the philosophical principles they sought to enshrine.

PHIL 258W. History & Philosophy of Science

This writing-intensive course examines conceptual models for contemporary and historical approaches to the production of scientific knowledge and experimental engagement with the natural world. In many sections, its emphasis will be on the considering the development of models for thinking about human body, examining some historical roots of fundamental concepts in the medical tradition, and interpreting significant shifts in approaches the concept of health. Some sections will focus on other themes in the history of science. Its goal is to provide a space for students and practitioners of the sciences to reflect historically and philosophically on their own disciplines as well as one in which students in other fields can consider the history of scientific knowledge and practice.

PHIL 259. Philosophy and Star Trek

The five Star Trek television series focus on issues and topics that are extremely philosophically interesting. In this course, we will investigate several of those issues in detail. Each week, we will watch an episode of Star Trek from one of the five TV series, and will read contemporary or historical philosophical texts that discuss the issues raised by those episodes. The course will focus primarily on topics in moral philosophy or ethics, including social and political philosophy (although we will also discuss various issues in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and other areas). Science fiction has the unique ability to highlight the moral, social, and political issues we often take for granted - as those issues are presented in a highly fictionalized and futuristic context, we may come to appreciate analogous, morally important aspects of our own society to which we are currently blind. Thus, through the stories and ethical dilemmas presented in Star Trek and related philosophical writings, this course aims to help students gain a deeper understanding of their own world.

PHIL 260W. Philosophy of Law

This course includes a study of major legal traditions. Other topics for discussion might be: justice, ethics and law, legal reasoning, and philosophical issues involved in evidence and procedure.

PHIL 261. Introduction to Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

This course provides an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art oriented by questions about the relationship between sensation, thought, and judgement, as well as image, sound, and concept. The philosophical texts, works of art, and other aesthetic phenomena to be studied will be both historical and contemporary and will include a variety of media (image, sound, performance, etc.). Students will be asked to write about work at local museums, galleries, and other venues.

PHIL 269. Special Topics

This course will be many different topics about different philosophers.

PHIL 270. American Philosophy

This course engages great texts in the American philosophical traditions of transcendentalism (Emerson, Thoreau), pragmatism (Peirce, James, Dewey, Rorty), and philosophy of freedom (Douglas, Chopin, DuBois, West). The aim is to understand critically and sympathetically the philosophical nature of what it means to be American.

PHIL 280. Asian Thought

How do meditative practices transform our way of thinking, seeing, and living? Why is our waking life comparable to a dream? What causes competing political forces to harmonize with each other? We will look at how these themes--meditation, unreality, and power politics--are addressed in the major philosophical traditions of India and China: Vedanta, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.

PHIL 285. Introduction to Feminist Philosophy

This course examines the way in which issues of gender and sexual differences reshape our understanding of selfhood and personal identity, and thereby have an impact on traditional philosophical views of political and ethical relationships, or the nature and scope of knowledge, and of the relationship between power and language.

PHIL 286. Philosophy of Nature

A consideration of the mind’s access to the natural world, the relation between philosophy and natural science, change and its causes, chance and the principle of simplicity, the relation of the artificial to the natural, and problems about motion and time.

PHIL 299. Love and Friendship

A philosophical consideration of love and friendship: the nature of love, its causes, its effects, its many manifestations, the mutual love found in friendship, the kinds of friendship, and the importance of friendship in human life.

PHIL 300W. Ancient Philosophy

This course spans the beginning of philosophy in Greece, from the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus, with readings taken primarily from Plato and Aristotle.

PHIL 301W. Medieval Philosophy

A sampling of Christian and Islamic thought from late antiquity through the thirteenth century, with emphasis on the continuity, the development, and the fruitful interplay of the Platonic and the Aristotelian traditions. We will weigh the difficulty of assimilating this complex pagan heritage within the context of revealed religion and consider how medieval thinkers worked toward a solution in connection with such themes as knowledge, God's existence, the problem of evil, the relation between divine and natural causes, and the soul.

PHIL 302W. Early Modern Philosophy

A study in the major issues in modern philosophy from the end of the Renaissance, through the mid-18th century. Readings may include Montaigne, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Pascal, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and others.

PHIL 304W. Later Modern Philosophy

A study of the period of philosophy initiated by Kant, this course deals with some of the crucial thinkers of the late 18th and 19th centuries such as Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Marx, Mill, and Nietzsche.

PHIL 305W. Contemporary Philosophy

This course concentrates on philosophy from 1900 to the present and covers the methods of selected 20th century and 21st century movements, such as phenomenology, hermeneutics and deconstruction.

PHIL 307W. Philosophy of Science

This course is a study of the most central theoretical issues in the philosophy of science, including the following: Does it matter for scientific practice whether science's objects (such as atoms) are real or not? Do scientific instruments, such as microscopes, prevent scientists from ever seeing their objects as they really are? Is there such a thing as 'how things really are' in science? That is, can there be scientific truth? How does science evolve? Does gender affect scientific practice?

PHIL 308W. Existentialism

We will work our way through a family of thinkers often labeled existentialists, such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Camus. Our study will be guided by means of a few shared themes: freedom, anguish, responsibility and meaning.

PHIL 310W. Zen Philosophy

Can reading a book be a meditative experience? Do words help or hinder us in our search for enlightenment? We will explore a Zen approach to these questions by working through the koans of the Blue Cliff Record, along with readings from the history of Buddhism that flesh out the philosophy they both attack and defend.

PHIL 312W. Philosophy of the Body

How can we carry out a philosophical analysis of the body? In other words, how can different embodies experiences, including those based on gender, enter into philosophy? How does the meaning ascribed to the body affect the subjectivity of those who are embodies in different ways? Readings will include at least some of the following: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Irigarary, Butler, Bordo, and Iris Young.

PHIL 314. Philosophy of Aging

This course will examine aging in terms of its meaning, the experience of aging, and ethics of aging. The course will examine retirement, healthcare, and the trans-humanist project of extending life expectancy. We will also address the major theories of aging and the distinction between geriatrics and gerontology.

PHIL 315W. Thomas Aquinas

An introduction to the philosophical thought of St. Thomas, focusing on such topics as God, nature, knowledge, language, the problem of evil, and the relation between faith and reason.

PHIL 317. Internship

This course corresponds to a 1 to 3 credit internship directed by a faculty member from the Department of Philosophy. Contact the department for more information regarding internship opportunities and registration.

PHIL 318. Philosophy of the Human Person

“Our life is divided,” wrote Plotinus, “and we have many lives.” In what sense are we one? How are body and soul related? How do our many powers and possibilities interact? We will reflect on these and other questions with the help of classic texts in philosophical anthropology.

PHIL 319W. Metaphysics

This course examines attempts to understand what kinds of things there are in the world through the question of Being and related concepts of existence, thing, property, event, matter, mind, space, time, and causality. The course will also examine critiques of classical metaphysics in the modern and postmodern thought, as well as attempts at post-metaphysical thinking.

PHIL 321. Original Philosophizing

Each student in this course will choose a philosophical problem they find intriguing and important, and will write an original paper solving it. The class will have a workshop format. Together, we will go through the steps that original philosophers go through: choosing and clarifying a topic, developing deep and precise definitions, brainstorming alternative solutions, researching existing papers on the topic, working out arguments and counter-arguments, synthesizing perspectives whenever possible, organizing ideas into a coherent essay, and writing it out clearly in a way that will interest readers.

PHIL 322W. Philosophical Roots of Psychology

Rationalism, empiricism, phenomenology, and genealogy / psychoanalysis are four important approaches to understanding the psyche. We will examine each of these approaches, considering their philosophical roots first and then their psychological incarnations. Once we grasp the philosophical roots of these approaches, we will be in a better position to understand and evaluate their psychological counterparts.

PHIL 323W. Aristotle

A survey if Aristotle’s major writings, from his logical and epistemological works through his physics and metaphysics, psychology and ethics, then finally his politics and poetics. Students will acquire not just an understanding of Aristotle’s particular philosophical concepts and arguments, but also an appreciation of his whole philosophical system.

PHIL 324. Epistemology

This course discusses the theory of knowledge, suitable objects of knowledge, how we go about gaining knowledge and the possible limits of knowledge.

PHIL 325W. Concentrated Philosophical Readings

Offers the opportunity for students and faculty to conduct in-depth study of a topic not covered, or covered only briefly, in other departmental courses. Special permission required. This course is also offered at the 400-level.

PHIL 326. Special Topics

This course will be many different topics about different philosophers.

PHIL 328W. Introduction to Phenomenology

This course touches on the works of several contemporary phenomenologists, such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. We look to how phenomenology has been taken up in other areas of contemporary philosophy as well as the historical roots of this movement. Also offered at the 200- and 400-levels.

PHIL 329. Green Metaphysics

This course brings together traditional metaphysics and environmental philosophy. The expression "green metaphysics" was coined by Hegel scholar Nigel Tubbs and argues for the necessary combination of Liberal Arts education with environmental philosophy.

PHIL 332W. Aesthetics

This course is a study of beauty and how art works are assessed.

PHIL 333. Institutional Narratives of (Trans) Gender

What are the narratives we tell about our gender? What are the narratives that various institutions-medical, psychological, psychiatric, and other specialists-tell about our gender? How do those narratives get used to form ideas about what is "normal" or "acceptable? And what is the effect of these narratives on a global scale? In this class, we will strive to address all of these questions as well as examine our own presumptions about our gender, class, race and other identities-and how these presumptions affect how we see and treat others.

PHIL 334. 20th Century French Philosophy

Inseparable from its entanglements with epistemology, literature and literary theory, psychology, politics, science, and art, twentieth century French and Francophone philosophy is one of the most intriguing milieus for contemporary thought. With an emphasis on careful engagement with primary texts, this course will probe questions, problems, and concepts drawn from this tradition. Movements studied may include Bergsonism, French epistemology and philosophy of science, Francophone adaptations and extensions of existentialism and phenomenology, the Situationists, French feminist philosophy, French and Francophone anticolonial and decolonial political philosophy, psychoanalysis, structuralist Marxism, poststructuralism, deconstruction, and actor-network theory.

PHIL 335. Christian Philosophy

This course studies the meaning of the Incarnation of Christ and other basic Christian symbols. It analyzes these in relation to the nature of religious knowledge, the problem of evil in biblical experience, and phenomenology of the holy.

PHIL 337W. Modern Jewish Philosophy

This course is an introduction to modern Jewish philosophy through a study of philosophers who struggled to understand the relationship between their Judaism and philosophy. Is it possible to philosophize from within Judaism, or is there an irresolvable tension between the claims of philosophy to be universal and leading a committed Jewish life (however one understands this)? Does Jewish philosophy lead us to re-think the universality of philosophy, or to think universality otherwise? How have Jewish philosophers understood revelation? Is revelation compatible with reason, and if so, what might this mean for reason? We will engage with these and other questions by reading key works of Baruch Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas.

PHIL 349W. Analytic Philosophy

Analytic Philosophy is sometimes considered to be technocratic and unexciting. In this course, however, we will uncover its gripping discussions and discuss the reasons behind its methods.

PHIL 351W. Nietzsche and Freud

A survey of the major writings of Nietzsche and Freud, showing their remarkable similarity, and thus demonstrating the porous border between philosophy and psychology. Topics discussed include: human nature and motivation, consciousness and unconsciousness, reason and emotion, narcissism and love, guilt and morality, artistic creation and religious belief, freedom and the best life.

PHIL 352W. Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy

This course investigates Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy in light of what we can call the age of diversity and its attempt to reconcile unity and difference. We will read texts by Derrida, Rawls, Rancière, Agamben, Foucault, Butler, Badiou, and other contemporary social-political thinkers.

PHIL 353W. Nietzsche

This course surveys Nietzsche's thought, with samples from all his major works. Topics considered will include: Greek tragedy, philosophy, and their legacy for Western philosophy; the existence, endurance, and purpose of things in the world, as well as the world itself; human consciousness, rationality, and language; human individuality, selfhood, and self-knowledge; free-will and determinism; love, resentment, and other emotions; science and truth, religion and morality, meaning and nihilism; time and eternity; Jews and Germans, slaves and masters, war and democracy, women and marriage.

PHIL 366W. de Beauvoir and Cixous

This course looks at texts from both of these philosophers. We examine their contribution to philosophy, feminist philosophy, and feminism in general.

PHIL 391. Internship

This course corresponds to a 1 to 3 credit internship directed by a faculty member from the Department of Philosophy. Contact the department for more information regarding internship opportunities and registration.

PHIL 399 Darwin and Philosophy

This course will begin with Darwin's two revolutionary books, On the Origin of the Species and The Descent of Man, in order to appreciate the basics of his evolutionary theory and to begin thinking about its implications for human life and philosophy. The course will then turn to recent attempts to update and apply this theory -- by Dawkins, Dennett, Buss, and Stewart-Williams. Using the Darwinian approach, the course will ask, and in some cases answer, questions such as who we humans are, what we want, whether we can know, and how we should live.

PHIL 400W. Plato’s Later Dialogues

One or several of the prominent “later” Platonic dialogues will be examined. The dialogue will be considered in terms of its setting and argumentation. It will be considered how the dialogue fits with other dialogues.

PHIL 401W. Plato’s Early Dialogues

Plato's dialogues are often divided into early, middle, and late. This course investigates Socrates' conversational style, attitude, philosophical positions (if any), and interactions with various interlocutors in several of his early-period dialogues, which typically includes the Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, Charmides, and Laches.

PHIL 402W Zen Philosophy

Can reading a book be a meditative experience? Do words help or hinder us in our search for enlightenment? We will explore a Zen approach to these questions by working through the koans of the Blue Cliff Record, along with readings from the history of Buddhism that flesh out the philosophy they both attack and defend.

PHIL 404W. Plato’s Republic

This dialogue is central in Plato's corpus and touches on most of his themes. The course gives a close reading to the dialogue tracing its account of justice in connection with the soul and the city.

PHIL 406W. Aristotle: Politics

This key part of Aristotle’s practical science will be studied in detail. How the various parts of the text fit together will be considered and the extent to which Aristotle manages to achieve a science that goes beyond his own time and the Greek polis.

PHIL 407W. Aristotle: Metaphysics

This course considers how Aristotle develops his first philosophy. The unity of the text is a major concern and also the coherence of the position developed. In addition there is interest in the viability of the Aristotelian approach to being as being.

PHIL 408W. Confucianism: Philosophy of Change

The Confucians regarded the Book of Changes as a central text. We will look at basic texts from the Confucian tradition, and then pursue a close reading of a Confucian commentary on the Book of Changes. Our goal is not only to understand Confucian thought, but also to understand change.

PHIL 409W. Aristotle: De Anima

This course traces Aristotle’s account of the soul and its various capacities. The credibility of Aristotle’s “philosophy of mind” has been challenged. To what extent does he manage to develop viable positions?

PHIL 410W. Plato’s Middle Dialogues

The course treats those dialogues that set out the theory of forms in glowing imagery. How do the forms fit within these dialogues and how coherent is their entrance into the central questions of these dialogues.

PHIL 411W. - Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

This course is a close reading of the entirety of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Topics to be considered include: the nature of happiness (eudaimonia), intellectual virtue (e.g., practical wisdom, understanding), virtues of character (e.g., justice, courage), responsibility, moral luck, friendship, the contemplative life, and pleasure. More broadly, the course considers whether ethics can be a practical science and whether virtue is an appropriate standard for measuring the goodness of human life and action.

PHIL 412W. Aristotle: Physics

This course provides a close reading of the treatise that begins Aristotle’s natural science. Here he deals with what nature is, whether it works for an end, what are motion, place, void, time, and so on. He also argues for a first mover.

PHIL 414W. German Idealism

This course will be an in-depth study of selections from the major works of the most significant figures of German Idealism, including but are not limited to Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel.

PHIL 415W. Plotinus

An introduction to the philosophical thought of Plotinus through his own writings, especially those on the relation between faith and reason, existence and attributes of God, knowledge, and language.

PHIL 416W. Aristotle’s Politics and Rhetoric

The Rhetoric tackles the question whether there can be an art of reined speaking. Though it seems part of productive science, in many places it links with practical science. The course also treats Aristotle’s philosophical approach to politics.

PHIL 417W. Seminar: Descartes/Spinoza/Leibniz

This seminar engages the tradition of Continental Rationalism, with specific attention to the writings of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Rather than narrowly focusing on their contributions to epistemology, the course connects seventeenth century theory of knowledge to metaphysics, ethical and political thought, and early modern science.

PHIL 418W. Art and Truth

This seminar studies the post-Platonic Western aesthetic tradition centering on the theme of art and truth initially raised by Plato.

PHIL 419W. Metaphysics

Attempts to understand what kinds of things there are in the world through, in classical metaphysics, the question of Being and related concepts of existence, thing, property, event, matter, mind, space, time, and causality. Included is also a critique of classical metaphysics in the modern and post modern eras and attempts at post-metaphysical thinking.

PHIL 420. The Philosophy of Saint Augustine

This course covers the early works of Augustine, focusing on his appropriation of Platonic and Stoic sources. We will also look at his later reinterpretation of his early life works like the Confessions.

PHIL 421W. Epicureans, Stoics, Skeptics

This course focuses on Hellenistic philosophy, which emerged primarily in ancient Greece and Rome after the death of Aristotle. Authors from each of the three major Hellenistic schools - Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism - will be read, including but not limited to Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Sextus Empiricus. The course chiefly concerns the therapeutic role of philosophy in the good life, but also considers some issues in metaphysics and epistemology.

PHL 421. Aquinas - God & Being

This course is an introduction Thomas Aquinas' philosophical theology through a close reading of his Summa contra gentiles. We will give special attention to the historical context of the work to shed light on Thomas' intention in writing the text and the role he assigns to philosophy of nature.

PHIL 423W. Aristotle

This course offers a survey of Aristotle’s philosophy through selections of all his major works.

PHL 424W. Medieval Women Philosophers

Unable to write in the style of scholars and priests, women in the Middle Ages produced a discourse that ran both side-by-side and counter to the mainstream of medieval philosophy. We will read some of the most influential of the protagonists in this alternative Middle Ages: Heloise of Argenteuil, Hildegard of Bingen, Herrad of Hohenburg, and Hadewijch of Antwerp. Also offered at the 300-level.

PHIL 425W. Concentrated Readings in Philosophy

This course offers the opportunity for student to conduct in-depth research under the direction of a faculty member. Departmental permission is required.

PHIL 426W. Phenomenology and Epistemology

This course examines the overlap and the divergence of epistemology and phenomenology. What is the interplay of appearance and knowledge? What methods are available to us for knowledge?

PHIL 427W. St. Thomas Aquinas — The Soul

An introduction to Thomas Aquinas' philosophical psychology through a close reading of the Treatise on Man in his Summa theologiae, complemented by excerpts from his commentary on Aristotle's On the Soul. Along the way, we will consider his theory of knowledge and the views of his near contemporaries, with whom he is in a dialogue.

PHIL 428W. Is God Illusion?: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard

This course engages Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals and Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, encouraging a dialogue between atheistic and theistic existentialism.

PHIL 429W. Freud and Psychoanalysis

The first half of this course surveys the major writings of Freud, critically examining his technique of psychoanalysis as well as his theories of human cognition, affection, and motivation. What, if anything, is a good life according to Freud? The second half of this course surveys recent psychoanalytic contributions, considering the ways in which practitioners since Freud have deepened their understanding of both these topics and their own technique. Is psychoanalysis an ethics?

PHL 429. Spinoza

This course examines the work of the early modern Dutch Jewish philosopher, Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza's two funademntal philosophical positions are summed up in his slogans ‘God, that is, nature' and ‘right, that is, power'. He is a central figure in the history of metaphysics and political philosophy, defending monism, materialism, and immanent causation. He is also a crucial touchstone for twentieth-century radical political thought, affect theory, and the contemporary reinvigoration of materialist metaphysics.

PHIL 430W. Critique of Pure Reason

This course is a close reading and conceptual analysis of Immanuel Kant’s The Critique of Pure Reason.

PHIL 431W. Heidegger

This course touches on several of Heidegger’s works with an eye toward how they were taken up by other philosophers in contemporary philosophy. In addition, we look to Heidegger’s own analyses of certain works in the history of philosophy.

PHIL 432W. Kant's Critique of Judgment

This course is a careful analysis of the Kant's theory of aesthetics in his third and last Critique, in relation to his critical philosophy.

PHIL 433W. Hegel - Phenomenology of Spirit

This course will be a careful, critical reading of as much of Hegel's 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit possible. We will also discuss Hegel's place in the German philosophical tradition and his influence on later thinkers.

PHIL 435W. Philosophy of Emotion

This course will question the traditional view and place of emotions. We will examine both historical and contemporary writings on the emotions and will consider how philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, feminists, and legal theorists, have portrayed the relationship between emotion and reason, knowledge, morality, gender, embodiment, and law.

PHL 436. Selfhood

This course invites each student to ask two questions: "Who am I?" and "What am I?" It then surveys a number of answers to those two questions, drawing upon philosophies from antiquity to the present, in order to help students answer them both for themselves.

PHIL 437W. Modern Jewish Philosophy

This course is an introduction to modern Jewish philosophy through a study of philosophers who struggled to understand the relationship between their Judaism and philosophy. Is it possible to philosophize from within Judaism, or is there an irresolvable tension between the claims of philosophy to be universal and leading a committed Jewish life (however one understands this)? Does Jewish philosophy lead us to re-think the universality of philosophy, or to think universality otherwise? How have Jewish philosophers understood revelation? Is revelation compatible with reason, and if so, what might this mean for reason? We will engage with these and other questions by reading key works of Baruch Spinoza, Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas.

PHIL 438W. Kant’s Moral Theory

This course will be a close reading of a selection of Kant's major works on morality: Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Critique of Practical Reason, and Metaphysics of Morals. These texts and their arguments will be discussed in the context of Kant's critical philosophy.

PHL 439. Black Mirror and Philosophy

This course will use texts from the history of Western philosophy, and some from recent philosophical authors, to understand the deep and timely series, Black Mirror. It will also use episodes of this series to illustrate and interrogate the philosophical texts. Students will thus learn some of the most interesting and influential philosophical ideas ever conceived, but also how these ideas are as important now as when they were first written. Black Mirror presents a dark image of our own times, and philosophy is as urgent a tool for living in them as it always has been. Also offered at the 200-level.

PHIL 440W. Heidegger’s Later Philosophy

This course focuses on Heidegger’s later works, after his “turn.” We touch on several of these later texts, addressing them in themselves and in how they identify a shift from Heidegger’s earlier works.

PHIL 442W. Foundations of Moral Philosophy

Many contemporary currents of thinking like to undermine the very foundations of moral philosophy. Fortunately, the foundations of moral philosophy are not found in books of theories but in the performance of individuals, asking questions about moral values, evaluating people, policies, actions, rules, and, coming to conclusions about right and wrong. This course focuses on moral values, how we know them, and consequently is a value ethics.

PHIL 443W. Hegel’s Logic

In the ontology of his Logic, Hegel shows the dialectically necessary development of every moment of Being, from its most abstract conceptualization (Pure Being) to its most determinate concretion. At the heart of this movement is the 'notion' or the 'concept'. Among the many ideas we will discuss as we read through this book are the dialectical unities of: being and nothing; unity and multiplicity; finite and infinite; identity and difference; thought and being; existence and essence; substance and subject.

PHIL 444W. Nietzsche

This course examines the writings and key insights of the influential nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

PHIL 448W. Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) lived in catastrophic times, and wrote about them with precision. He followed the consequences of his thinking, even when this meant abandoning the pretension that thought is adequate to grasp reality without remainder. We will read a selection of Walter Benjamin's texts (in translation), focusing on his early aesthetics and criticism of art, his theory of experience, ideas and language, and his understanding of historical time.

PHIL 449W. African American Philosophy

This course examines the works of past and contemporary African American philosophers and other Black thinkers of Diaspora in an effort to understand the philosophical significance of the Black experience.

PHIL 450W. Islamic Philosophy

An introduction to major philosophers from the classical period of Islamic thought through their own writings. Among the thinkers whose works we will sample are Alkindi, Alfarabi, Avicenna, Algazel, and Averroes. We will give special attention, as did they, to the relation between philosophy and prophecy and that between philosophy and theology, to divine and natural causality, and to the nature and destiny of the soul.

PHIL 451W. Nietzsche and Freud

A survey of the major writings of Nietzsche and Freud, showing their remarkable similarity, and thus demonstrating the porous border between philosophy and psychology. Topics discussed include: human nature and motivation, consciousness and unconsciousness, reason and emotion, narcissism and love, guilt and morality, artistic creation and religious belief, freedom and the best life.

PHL 452 Contemporary Social & Political Philosophy

How to accommodate the seemingly conflicting notions of unity and diversity is a core problem in contemporary social and political thought. To approach this issue, this seminar critically engages the work of John Rawls, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière and related political thinkers.

PHIL 453W. Husserl: Inner Time Consciousness

This course includes careful readings from Husserl’s texts on inner time-consciousness: Part B of On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time, analysis of Active and Passive Syntheses, and possibly some manuscripts (untranslated). A prior understanding of the basics of Husserl’s phenomenology and method (the basic premises gained from a reading of Ideas I) will be extremely helpful to participants, and a basic understanding of German will also be a plus.

PHIL 454W. Philosophy of Time

This course addresses some of the more influential philosophical analyses of time and temporality in the history of philosophy, including those from  Aristotle's Physics and Augustine's Confessions. We may also look at more contemporary philosophers, such as Husserl and Heidegger.

PHL 455W Hermeneutics

This course examines the philosophy of interpretation in twentieth century continental philosophy through an engagement with the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur.

PHIL 456. Foucault

This course investigates the philosophy of Michel Foucault, in particular his notions of archaeological structure, genealogical critique, power, subjectivity and ethics.

PHIL 458W. Plato’s Phaedo

This course is a close examination of Plato’s dialogue on the self and immortality of the soul.

PHIL 459. Plato’s Timaeus and Cratylus

This course examines the metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology of two of Plato's so-called 'late period' dialogues. This course focuses on the nature of reality, belief, and error; the differences among types of knowledge; cosmology and divine craftmanship; and the role of physiology in the human good.

PHIL 460W. Introduction to Phenomenology

This course touches on the works of several contemporary phenomenologists, such as Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. We look to how phenomenology has been taken up in other areas of contemporary philosophy as well as the historical roots of this movement.

PHIL 462W. Adorno

Theodor Adorno, a member of the Frankfurt school of critical theory, wrote voluminously on a number of topics, such as music, literature, history, morality, culture, and dialectics. This course provides a survey of his most important works, with particular emphasis on Dialectic of Enlightenment, Minimal Moralia, and Negative Dialectics. Some investigation of his writings are music and will also be offered.

PHIL 466W. de Beauvoir and Cixous

This course looks at texts from both of these philosophers, both in comparison with one another and as philosophical works in themselves. We examine their contribution to philosophy, feminist philosophy, and feminism in general.

PHIL 467W. Race Matters / Philosophy and Literature Perspective

This course “asks are we a post-racial society,” while theorizing the meaning of the concept of race/racism and seeking clarification of the meaning of race through various works of literature (fiction, autobiography, etc.)

PHIL 468. Honors Thesis

This is a course for independent honors thesis research on an approved topic pursued under the guidance of a faculty member. Available only to students who have been admitted to the Philosophy Honors Program.

PHIL 469W. Critical Race Theory

This course explores the meaning of race, its historical emergence, and its current maintenance through power structures, normative and epistemological assumptions. The “critical” in Critical Race theory denotes the importance of resisting the calcification of race categories.

PHIL 471W. Ricœur, Symbolism of Evil

Ricoeur wrote extensively on the philosophy of religion as hermeneutics. This course takes up arguably his most important work, examining the problem of evil by studying the symbolism of four kinds of mythology: Babylonian, Greek Tragic, Biblical, and Orphic. Special emphasis will be placed on a close textual reading of the argument.

PHIL 472W. Heidegger’s Being and Time

This course will focus on a careful reading of both divisions of Heidegger's Being and Time. The goals of the course are to gain a good comprehension of this early work by Heidegger, to be able to treat it on an expository as well as on a critical level, to understand the context of this work in relation to ontology, and to build the beginnings of a conversation with Heideggerian philosophy and with existentialism.

PHIL 474W. Sartre: Being and Nothingness

This course will focus on a careful reading of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. We will read much of this text closely, concentrating on Sartre’s methodology, goals, and philosophical accomplishments. The goals of the course will be to gain a fairly detailed understanding of this work in itself, to consider it with regard to its philosophical roots, and to address the influence it has had on important projects that followed it.

PHIL 475W. The Later Heidegger

This course focuses on Heidegger’s later works, after his “turn.” We look at these texts philosophically as well as beyond the realm of philosophy.

PHIL 476W. Husserl

This course touches on several works by Husserl, looking at the phenomenological method for itself, as well as how it is applied in such areas as the body, time-consciousness, logical meaning constitution, and inter-subjectivity.

PHIL 478W. Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Art, Religion, and Philosophy

This course examines the ways Hegel defines the absolute, reading and discussing the culminating moments of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Philosophy of Right, the encyclopedia Philosophy of Spirit, and Science of Logic. Questions for the course include: what is absolute knowing and how is it different from absolute spirit? Are art, religion and philosophy equivalent in value? What is the difference between the logical idea and the absolute in its other forms? What is the status of the state, for Hegel? What are the ramifications of these absolutes for the Hegelian person?

PHIL 479W. Kierkegaard's Critique of Hegel

This lecture and discussion course on Kierkegaard's existentialism studies writings from his various periods, with special attention to the Concluding Unscientific Postscript in relation to Hegel's Science of Logic. It criticizes claims some make that Hegel's philosophy is indifferent to human existential concerns and that Kierkegaard's position is entirely anti-Hegelian. On the contrary, the lectures show some elements of Kierkegaard's critique of Hegel are derived from the Science of Logic. Other philosophers in addition to Hegel enter the dialogue with Kierkegaard, for instance, his arguments about God in relation to Kant's critical philosophy.

PHIL 482W. Deleuze

This seminar explores questions and problems raised by the innovative work of French philosophy Gilles Deleuze.

PHIL 484W. Derrida

This is a course on Jacques Derrida's theory of language, meaning, and signifiers, concentrating on his great early works of the 1960's. Derrida has had an enormous influence on the philosophy of language, on political philosophy, and on the interpretation of the history of metaphysics. The issues around language and signifiers are connected to Derrida's other topics of writing, difference, presence, and deconstruction. His invention of "deconstruction" has often been misunderstood, but it is extremely interesting, important, and useful for anyone interested in meaning. Derrida's writing is difficult, and his ideas are highly controversial, but studying Derrida is essential for anyone who wants to understand and do philosophy in a contemporary way. We will study Derrida's texts closely (sympathetically as well as critically), and consider his work in relation to philosophy, linguistics, and semiotics (the theory of signs) of the period. The most important thing that students will take from this course is a range of options for thinking about how "signifiers" work.

PHIL 485. Gender, Nature, Being

Is gender natural or not? This is a recent debate among feminists (e.g., Grosz vs. Butler), even more recently enhanced by contributions from transgender theorists (Halberstam), but it has an ancient lineage, beginning with Plato, who used it not only to argue that women should become philosopher-queens, but also to introduce his doctrines of nature and being. This course begins and ends with the recent feminist debate, but tries to clarify it through an intervening survey of differing accounts: Greeks (Plato vs. Aristotle), Catholics (Aquinas & George), evolutionary biologists (Darwin & Roughgarden), philosophers of science (Dupre and Rosenberg), and philosophers of selfhood (Nietzsche & Foucault). The goal will be to answer the question, but more importantly to see how much is at stake whichever answer one chooses.

PHIL 487W. Plato’s Parmenides and Phaedrus

This course is a close study of two of Plato’s most important dialogues. The Parmenides raises difficulties about the theory of forms and the Phaedrus deals with direction of the soul.

PHIL 488W. Critical Whiteness Studies

This course explores what it means to be white, white privilege, white domination, white invisibility, and whiteness as normative. We explore the important works by critical whiteness theorists and how they have come to think about whiteness and how they have proposed ways of challenging its social, political, and epistemological hegemonic status.

PHL 489. Marion & Phenomenology

Jean-Luc Marion has moved phenomenology in new directions with his development of the notion of saturated phenomenon. Criticizing the grounding of phenomenology in objects (Husserl) and Being (Heidegger), and building from insights of Derrida and Merleau-Ponty, he posits the principle that "the more reduction, the more givenness." On this basis he does a phenomenology of "being given" that is far more receptive to what is nonintuitive, in excess of conceptuality, and theological. The course will explore the genesis of saturated phenomenon, the problem of epistemology that it engenders, and how it has been taken up by theologians both positively (Henri, Mackinlay, Chrétian) and critically (Janicaud).

PHIL 490W. Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics takes as its foundation Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which emphasizes the role of character and excellence in our moral assessments. This course considers the directions in which contemporary virtue ethicists have taken Aristotle's character-based ethics as they have attempted to situate his notions of virtue, character, and happiness in a contemporary context and thereby to create an alternative to non-character based ethical systems such as Kantianism and Utilitarianism. The course will focus on the following questions: On what do contemporary virtue ethicists base the virtues (e.g., on some notion of human well-being; on the care of others; on our intuitions)? Which virtues are interesting and important? Are some virtues gender-specific? Practice-specific? How grounded in Aristotelian moral theory is contemporary virtue ethics? What are the major contemporary critiques of virtue ethics? Readings include works by Aristotle, Alasdair MacIntyre, Iris Murdoch, Susan Wolf, G.E.M. Anscombe, Susan Okin, Philippa Foot, Thomas Nagel, and others.

PHIL 491. Plato and Nietzsche

Each week juxtaposing a Platonic dialogue with excerpts from Nietzsche's books, this course examines and evaluates the obvious differences between them: on questions of metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, and aesthetics. But it also considers their remarkable similarities: their philosophical art, their aristocratic politics, and their salvific aspirations, among others. One central concern will be the relationship between love and time; another, the difference between reincarnation and eternal return.

PHIL 492W. The Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir

This course attempts to elucidate the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir, which might be called a situated phenomenological existentialism, by a careful analysis of selected essays, novels, and autobiographical accounts. The class concentrates on the Ethics of Ambiguity, the Second Sex, and She Came to Stay.

PHIL 493W. Marx and Critical Theory

This course surveys both the early and the late writings of Karl Marx, and the subsequent influence they had on the development of economic, political, and philosophical thinking in many corners of the world. Particular emphasis will be on the impact it had on the so called Frankfurt School of Critical Theory in Germany. An analysis of the texts Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Jurgen Habermas will be included.

PHIL 495W. Phenomenology of Race

In this course we will examine the lived experience of race in relationship to key phenomenological concepts (embodiment, intersubjectivity, lived space, Erlebnis, etc.). Our objective is to work through what a phenomenology of race looks like by deploying important concepts from Fanon, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sara Ahmed, et al.

PHIL 496. Special Topics

Courses on many different topics, texts, and philosophers will be offered under this number.

PHIL 497. Badiou's Being and Event

Badiou's Being and Event emphasizes the concept of multiplicity to argue that "events" - whether emerging from philosophy, politics, poetry, mathematics, or love - surpass "Being". Being and Event expresses this ontology through a unique approach to the logic of set theory (no background in mathematics or set theory logic is required - Badiou explains the basic ideas).

PHIL 498W. Philosophy of God

This course introduces students to selected traditional and contemporary texts and basic themes in types of religious experience, such as Babylonian, Greek, and Judeo-Christian. It delineates such questions as: What is the Holy? What is the status of arguments for the existence of God? Why is there human suffering if God is good and all-powerful?

PHL 499. Philosophy Capstone

Enrollment in this zero-credit course fulfills the Bridges capstone requirement for Philosophy majors and requires co-registration in a 400-level Philosophy seminar during the same semester. Philosophy capstone students pursue one of four guided research modules to write for the co-registered seminar. Details about these modules (primary textual research, concept-application research, historical/contextual research, or secondary literature-guided research) are available on the Philosophy Department website. If departmental permission has been granted to enroll in a 500-level seminar, it may be also used as the co-registration (Concentrated Readings courses, courses below the 400 level, and courses coded for another department may not be used as the co-registration for the Philosophy Capstone).

Graduate Courses

PHIL 500. Plato's Later Dialogues

Plato's dialogues usually considered "late" are the Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus, and Laws. This course will offer a close examination of some of these dialogues, It will be considered how these dialogues fit with the other dialogues of Plato.

PHIL 501. Plato's Early Dialogues

Plato's dialogues are often divided into early, middle, and late. This course investigates Socrates' conversational style, attitude, philosophical positions (if any), and interactions with various interlocutors in several of his early-period dialogues, which typically includes the Apology, Euthyphro, Crito, Charmides, and Laches.

PHIL 502. Philosophy of Music

This course focuses primarily upon the music of Debussy, examining Debussy's revolutionary developments in harmony, orchestration, and (especially) form. In-class lectures and discussions will investigate the ways that Debussy's music relates to artistic works of his contemporaries, particularly Monet, Cézanne, Mallarmé, and Proust. Readings and papers will center upon the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, whose "Eye and Mind," "Indirect Language and the Voices of Silence," and The Visible and the Invisible will be used to engage these artistic works.

PHIL 503. Aristotle's Natural Philosophy

This course provides a close reading of the Physics and other works following it. Aristotle's most basic notions pertaining to the realm of natural beings are traced, such as change, place, time, and causes of motion.

PHIL 504. Plato's Republic

This dialogue is central in Plato's corpus and touches on most of his themes. The course gives a close reading to the dialogue, tracing its account of justice in connection with the soul and the city.

PHIL 505. Freud and Psychoanalysis

The first half of this course surveys the major writings of Freud, critically examining his technique of psychoanalysis as well as his theories of human cognition, affection, and motivation. What, if anything, is a good life according to Freud? The second half of this course surveys recent psychoanalytic contributions, considering the ways in which practitioners since Freud have deepened their understanding of both these topics and their own technique. Is psychoanalysis an ethics?

PHIL 506. Aristotle: Politics

The course considers how this complex treatment of political topics pertains to antiquity and the present.

PHIL 507. Aristotle: Metaphysics

An investigation into the science of being as being. How there can be such a science, what its subject matter is, and what Aristotle discloses about it are the main issues of this course.

PHIL 509. Aristotle: Organon

A close reading of Aristotle's works on logic.

PHIL 510. Plato's Middle Dialogues

An examination of Plato's Meno, Phaedo, Phaedrus, and Cratylus. The aim of the middle dialogues is the central question of this course.

PHIL 511. Aristotle'e Nicomachean Ethics

This course is a close reading of the entirety of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Topics to be considered include: the nature of happiness (eudaimonia), intellectual virtue (e.g., practical wisdom, understanding), virtues of character (e.g., justice, courage), responsibility, moral luck, friendship, the contemplative life, and pleasure. More broadly, the course considers whether ethics can be a practical science and whether virtue is an appropriate standard for measuring the goodness of human life and action.

PHIL 512. Aristotle's Physics

The Physics is arguably the central world of the Aristotelian corpus. The course explores the central issues in this work.

PHL 513. Schelling

This seminar will explore the work of the nineteenth-century German philosopher F.W.J. Schelling. Topics to be discussed may involve Schelling's philosophy of nature, aesthetic idealism, account of the self, or other philosophical issues.

PHIL 514. Plato's Sophist & Statesman

A close examination of the Sophist, focusing on the connection of sophistry with being and non-being.

PHIL 515. Plotinus

This course surveys most of the Enneads. In its first half it covers the metaphysical system of Plotinus's Platonism. Beginning with Nature and Soul - with the problems of knowledge, being, and desire that these raise - it rises to the Intellect and One, before returning downwards in imitation of the cosmic creation he describes. The second half of the course examines special topics in the light of this system: time and eternity, fate and freedom, good and evil, beauty and virtue, selfhood.

PHIL 516. Aristotle's Politics & Rhetoric

This course deals with Aristotle's key work on politics and his treatment of rhetoric. These two works remain treatments of their fields that challenge our current understanding. The Politics belongs with the ethics, but the Rhetoric enters into many of the important themes of ethics and politics.

PHIL 518. Kierkegaard's Critique of Hegel

This course on Kierkegaard's existentialism studies writings from his various periods, with special attention to the Concluding Unscientific Postscript in relation to Hegel's Science of Logic. It criticizes claims some make that Hegel's philosophy is indifferent to human existential concerns and Kierkegaard's position is entirely anti-Hegelian. On the contrary, we will see that some elements of Kiekegaard's critique of Hegel are derived from the Science of Logic. Other philosophers in addition to Hegel enter the dialogue with Kierkegaard. The course compares his analysis of the public in The Present Age with Marx's Private Property and Communism and examines his arguments about God in relation to Kant's critical philosophy.

PHIL 520. The Philosophy of St. Augustine

The early dialogues and the Confessions will be highlighted. Topics include Augustine's views on skepticism, truth, wisdom, free will, the existence of God, faith/reason, the soul, immortality, memory, time, libido, and knowledge of self, and Augustine's impact on subsequent philosophy/psychology of the subject.

PHIL 521. St. Thomas Aquinas - God and Being

This course is an introduction Thomas Aquinas' philosophical theology through a close reading of his Summa contra gentiles. We will give special attention to the historical context of the work to shed light on Thomas' intention in writing the text and the role he assigns to philosophy of nature.

PHIL 522. Aquinas: Treatise on Man

This course will emphasize Aquinas' psychology, epistemology, and theory of appetition - love, will, affectivity, emotion. Specific questions will treat the body/soul relationship, immortality/ mortality, external/internal sensation, intellectual cognition, the will, choice, emotion, the various types of love, and conscience. Original texts are the main focus.

PHIL 523. The Names of God

Aristotle tells us that we name things as we know them, and that our knowledge begins with the senses. If so, can the language we fashion apply to God? How? After a glance at antiquity, we will discuss various medieval responses to these questions, giving special attention to Pseudo-Dionysius, Eriugena, Anselm, Maimonides, and Aquinas.

PHIL 526. Phenomenology and Epistemology

This course considers the epistemological aspect of phenomenology. It ranges widely over a series of thinkers including Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty.

PHIL 527. St. Thomas Aquinas - The Soul

This course is an introduction to Thomas Aquinas' philosophical psychology through a close reading of the Treatise on Man in his Summa theologiae, complemented by excerpts from his commentary on Aristotle's On the Soul. Along the way, we will consider his theory of knowledge and the views of his near contemporaries, with whom he is in dialogue.

PHIL 528. Early Greek Philosophy

This course surveys Greek philosophy from its beginning through to Socrates, with discussion of the following figures in between: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, ‘Pythagaoras,' Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Zeno, Melissus, Democritus, and Diogenes of Apollonia. Other Greek authors will be read as background or as philosophers in their own right: Hippocrates, Sophocles, and Thucydides.

PHIL 529. Spinoza - Ethics

This seminar is devoted to a close reading of Baruch Spinoza's Ethics, his masterwork that develops a system of monist metaphysics, immanent causation, corporeal affect, and cognitive power.

PHIL 530. Kant: Critique of Pure Reason

This course will be devoted to a close reading of Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.

PHIL 531. Heidegger

This course touches on several of Heidegger's works with an eye toward how they were taken up by other philosophers in contemporary philosophy. In addition, we look to Heidegger's own analyses of certain works in the history of philosophy.

PHIL 532. Kant's Critique of Judgment

This course is a careful analysis of the Kant's theory of aesthetics in his third and last Critique, in relation to his critical philosophy.

PHIL 533. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

This course will be a careful, critical reading of as much of Hegel's 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit possible. We will also discuss Hegel's place in the German philosophical tradition and his influence on later thinkers.

PHIL 534. Hegel and Shakespeare

What is moral imagination? How can Hegel and Shakespeare help us to understand it? This course concerns shapes of self-consciousness in the tricky interface between reality and drama. Shakespeare's plots and characters will be used to shed light on Hegelian dialectic, and Hegel's Aesthetics and Phenomenology of Spirit to shed light on Shakespeare's dramas. Our focus will be on moral imagination and on how interpretations of drama and history constrain it. The students of this course will be asked to investigate shapes of self-consciousness discussed by Hegel in the Phenomenology and the Aesthetics in relation to Shakespearean characters, as well as to develop theories about the nature of moral imagination.

PHIL 535. Postmodern Readings of Early Modernity

This course focuses on examples of the roles that confrontations with texts from the history of early modern philosophy and literature have played in the formulation of key theoretical orientations in postmodern thought and its foundations in 20th century continental philosophy. Texts pairings may include Heidegger/Leibniz, Benjamin/Lohenstein, DeMan/Pascal, Derrida/Rousseau, Negri/Spinoza, Deleuze/Hume, Foucault/Arnauld, and others.

PHIL 536. History and Philosophy of Science

This course examines conceptual, historiographical, and methodological issues in the history and philosophy of science. It may be structured as a general survey of major theoretical positions, as an investigation of specific philosophical problems, or as an inquiry into the connections between philosophy and science in a particular era.

PHL 536. Selfhood 

This course invites each student to ask two questions: "Who am I?" and "What am I?" It then surveys a number of answers to those two questions, drawing upon philosophies from antiquity to the present, in order to help students answer them both for themselves.

PHIL 537. German Idealism

This course will be an in-depth study of selections from the major works of the most significant figures of German Idealism, including but are not limited to Kant, Fichte, Schelling and Hegel.

PHIL 538. Kant's Moral Theory

This course will consist of a close reading of Kant's major works on morality, especially the Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, the Critique of Practical Reason, and the Metaphysics of Morals. There will also be some discussion of the first Critique and Kant's relationship to several selected twentieth-century philosophers. A few contemporary critics of Kant's moral theory will be discussed.

PHIL 539. Kant/Hegel/Marx

This course discusses the complex relation between three of the most important thinkers of the modern tradition. It is argued that all three belong to the same intellectual tradition and that the relation is closer and also more complex than usually understood.

PHIL 541. Philosophy of the Body

In this course, we will examine philosophical approaches to the body through the perspectives of phenomenology, postmodernism, feminism, queer theory, and critical race theory.

PHIL 542. Foundations of Moral Philosophy

The main purpose of this course is to read and discuss classical texts in moral philosophy in order to articulate, understand, and criticize central ethical issues that form the theoretical background of many cases in applied contemporary ethics. There will be an overview of major ethical traditions with a concentration on the moral positions of Kant, utilitarian positions, and the ethics of care.

PHIL 543. Hegel's Logic

In the ontology of his Logic, Hegel shows the dialectically necessary development of every moment of Being, from its most abstract conceptualization (Pure Being) to its most determinate concretion. At the heart of this movement is the 'notion' or the 'concept'. Among the many ideas we will discuss as we read through this book are the dialectical unities of: being and nothing; unity and multiplicity; finite and infinite; identity and difference; thought and being; existence and essence; substance and subject.

PHIL 544. Nietzsche Philosophy - Genealogy

This course explores whether Nietzsche's reflections on the relation between truth, art, and spirit are merely repetitions of a metaphysical system.

PHIL 546. Husserl's Ideas

Study and discussion of Husserl's Cartesian introduction to transcendental phenomenology, emphasizing: the character and method of phenomenology as an eidetic discipline; the nature of the epoche and reduction as methods of access to pure consciousness; the distinctive style of noetic-noematic intentional analysis; the function of transcendental constitution in the critique of theoretical reason.

PHIL 547. Husserl's Ideas II

Study and discussion of some major details involved in the step-by-step phenomenological constitution of regional ontologies underlying the natural and human sciences, as well as their complex interrelationships: regions, material nature, psychic reality, individual and communal personal life, with special emphasis on the role of the body throughout.

PHIL 548. Descartes and Cartesianism

This graduate course explores a wide array of texts by René Descartes, with a focus on the development of Cartesianism as a response to late scholasticism, the rise of neo-Epicureanism, the development experimental and "corpuscular" philosophy, etc.

PHIL 549. African American Philosophy

African-American Philosophy explores the unique philosophical questions and problems that arise out of the African-American life-world. We explore such issues as Black identity formation, questions of standpoint epistemology, the meaning of Blackness as a racial marker, questions of social ontology, the relationship between race and the meaning of philosophy, the meaning of Black philosophy vis-à-vis "white philosophy," questions of justice, aesthetics, and theology within the context of North American racism.

PHIL 550. Islamic Philosophy

An introduction to major philosophers from the classical period of Islamic thought. Among the thinkers whose works we will sample are Alkindi, Alfarabi, Avicenna, Algazel, and Averroes. We will give special attention, as did they, to the relation between philosophy and prophecy and that between philosophy and theology, to divine and natural causality, and to the nature and destiny of the soul.

PHIL 552. Rethinking Place

This course will examine the history of the philosophy of place, as well as current philosophers who make place one of their central concerns. We will pay special attention to the work of Martin Heidegger, Edward Casey, and Henri Lefebvre.

PHIL 553. Husserl: Inner Time Consciousness

"Time is motionless and yet it flows." -Husserl. This course This course examines Husserl's analysis of time-consciousness as a way or presenting the central problem on intentionality. The disclosure of the problem is through phenomenological reflection upon the way temporal objects are constituted through achievements of the essential modes of time-consciousness: perception, imagination and memory (retention and recollection).

PHIL 554. Plato's Timaeus and Philebus

This course examines the metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology of two of Plato's so-called ‘late period' dialogues. This course focuses on the nature of reality, belief, and error; the differences among types of knowledge; cosmology and divine craftsmanship; and the role of physiology in the human good.

PHL 555. Hermeneutics

This seminar examines the philosophy of interpretation in twentieth century continental philosophy through an engagement with the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur.

PHIL 556. Foucault

This course investigates the philosophy of Michel Foucault, in particular his notions of archaeological structure, genealogical critique, power, subjectivity and ethics.

PHL 556. Phenomenology and the Global South

This seminar will focus on developments in Global Southern phenomenology through addressing examining ideas from Africana phenomenology, decolonial and postcolonial phenomenology, intersectional and queer phenomenology, and the significance of teleological suspensions in phenomenological philosophical inquiry.

PHL 557. Semiotics and Philosophy

This course explores the methodologies of Semiotics and their subversive potential for philosophizing today. Texts include Roland Barthes' Elements of Semiology, Umberto Eco's Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language, and Julia Kristeva's Desire in Language.

PHL 558. Matter and Materiality

What if bodies were all there were? While considering Nietzsche, Foucault once wrote, "The body is the inscribed surface of events (traced by language and dissolved by ideas), the locus of a dissociated self (adopting the illusion of a substantial unity), and a volume in perpetual disintegration." This seminar will attempt to make sense of what it could mean to think bodies simultaneously as constituent surfaces, dissociating loci, and disintegrating volumes by exploring the long histories of matter, materiality, and materialism.

PHIL 558. Plato's Phaedo

This textual study of the Phaedo investigates the theory of the soul in relation to the Republic and with reference to other pertinent dialogues, such as the Phaedrus and Timaeus. It also examines the Phaedo in the light of new interpretations that criticize body/soul dualism and propose neurobiological revaluations of Platonic psychology. Course topics include: the meaning of death, the question of immortality, the relation between the forms and the soul, courage, music, causality, and the nature of consciousness.

PHIL 559. Plato's Timaeus and Cratylus

This course examines the metaphysics, ethics, and epistemology of two of Plato's so-called 'late period' dialogues. This course focuses on the nature of reality, belief, and error; the differences among types of knowledge; cosmology and divine craftmanship; and the role of physiology in the human good.

PHIL 560. Introduction to Phenomenology

This course will begin by reading Edmund Husserl's Crisis. Some themes to be developed will be: the sense of the crisis and the need for historical reflection, life-world, the status and significance of psychology in relation to transendental phenomenology. We will next read selections from the works of Heidegger. Representative examples of the readings would be: the Introduction to Being and Time, and On the Essence of Truth. We will seriously consider Heidegger's claim that phenomenology is possible only as ontology and ontology only as phenomenology. Husserl asks: "Wie konnen wir jetzt wirklich zu Philosophen werden?"

PHIL 561. Early Modern Political Philosophy

This course investigates the development of political philosophy in the early modern era. It may be structured as a survey of major texts and thinkers or as a more specific investigation into a particular conceptual issue.

PHIL 562. Adorno

Theodor Adorno, a member of the Frankfurt school of critical theory, wrote voluminously on a number of topics, such as music, literature, history, morality, culture, and dialectics. This course provides a survey of his most important works, with particular emphasis on Dialectic of Enlightenment, Minimal Moralia, and Negative Dialectics. Some investigation of his writings on music will also be offered.

PHIL 563. Problems in Ethics

This course continues the argument Alasdair MacIntyre begins in After Virtue. Moral discourse requires a rootedness in beliefs reflecting continuity of debate at the personal as well as political level. Modern liberalism short circuits this dialectical connectedness through the creation of, and emphasis upon, what must be considered its central tenet: the individual qua individual as repository of rights must be protected as point of departure and ultimate end of moral inquiry.

PHIL 564. Kiekegaard

This focuses on Kierkegaard's early writings (after his dissertation and prior to his lampooning in the "Corsair" in 1846). If time permits, we will include parts of his Concluding Unscientific Postscript, since that text marks his turning point from his early to late writing. Kierkegaard's early writings are characterized by his use of pseudonyms. We'll read chronologically (see reading list below). But the general topic of class discussions to be discussed are the following: 1) Kierkegard's religious metaphysics: for example, in Fear and Trembling and in Philosophical Fragments, what does it mean to have faith "by virtue of the absurd?" What are the "occasion" of and "condition" for faith? Why, for Kierkegaard, is faith a paradox and an "affront" to reason? What role does history play for the Christian follower? 2) Kierkegaard's methodology: in particular his ventues in imaginative experimenting as he questions, among other things, the nature of time, of love, and of devotion (for example, in the "The Seducer's Diary" in Either/Or, and in Repetition); 3) Elements of Kiekegaard's existential psychology (for example, the relationship between the concepts of sin and anxiety, in The Concept of Anxiety); 4) Kierkegaard's implicit and explicit critiques, throughout these works, of Hegelian dialectic and of the "Hegelian System."

PHIL 566. Black Bodies / White Gazes

In this course, we will focus on what it means to be racially embodied, how this impacts body comportment, body integrity, body aesthetics, and how being-in the-world means something differently for those whose bodies are differently raced.

PHIL 568. The History of Matter in Renaissance and Early Modern Thought

This course is an exploration of the history of the concept of matter (and concomitant doctrines of materialism) in the philosophy and literature of the Renaissance and the Early Modern periods.

PHIL 569. Critical Race Theory

This course explores race through reading the works of critical race theorists who have deployed the methodology of critical narrative as a way of bringing attention to race realism and such resulting problems as racial inequality, racial power differentials, affirmative action, unconscious racism, the myth of meritocracy, etc.

PHIL 570. Special Topics

Topics vary. See the Philosophy Department website for specific offerings in any given semester. Recent special topics courses have included: Early Modern Women Philosophers; Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences; Anti-Philosophy; Rythmic Figures: Hölderlin & Heidegger; Deleuze on Cinema; Gadamer's Hermeneutics; etc.

PHIL 571. Ricœur's Symbolism of Evil

This phenomenological study analyzes four ways of symbolizing evil and redemption: Babylonian, Greek Tragic, Biblical, and Orphic. It also examines rituals, myths, and theories that express this symbolism in religious experience, poetry, theology, and philosophy. The course asks if belief in the existence of God can be reconciled with the problem of evil. The professor interprets Ricoeur's project in relation to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Judgment and Heidegger's Being and Time and focuses on the aesthetic dimension of the redemption of evil. Seminar; offered irregularly.

PHIL 572. Heidegger's Being and Time

Heidegger's Being and Time is one of the most influential philosophical books of this century. Students are required to study the primary text of assigned parts of the Introductions and selected sections from all chapters of Divisions One and Two. The course will emphasize Dasein's fundamental characteristics, care and its relation to temporality, and anticipatory resoluteness. It will also examine Heidegger's analysis of phenomena such as Dasein's use of equipment, its relation to another Dasein, fear, anxiety, inauthenticity, and authenticity. Special attention will be given to the following chapters: ‘Care as the Being of Dasein,' ‘Dasein's Authentic Potentiality-For-Being-A-Whole,' and ‘Temporality as the Ontological Meaning of Care.'

PHIL 574. Sartre

This course will focus on one of Sartre's major works: either Being and Nothingness, or Critique of Dialectical Reason, or some other great work. Sartre is not only a phenomenologist and ontologist, but also an astute political philosopher with a unique method of investigating historical events, both past and present. This course will combine close reading of his texts with speculative phenomenological and social applications. Seminar; offered irregularly.

PHIL 575. The Later Heidegger

The seminar explores the relationship between philosophy, art, and poetry in Heidegger's later writings. It will focus on Heidegger's question: What task is reserved for thinking at the end of philosophy?

PHIL 576. Husserl

This course is a fairly comprehensive introduction to Husserl's work as well as to phenomenology. We touch upon several of his more important texts, including Logical Investigations, Ideas, Crisis of European Sciences, On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time and Cartesian Meditations. While analyzing the texts themselves, we focus also on the development of certain issues within Husserl's phenomenology, such as temporality, corporeality, and inter-subjectivity, through the course of his work.

PHIL 577. Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception

On the basis of a thorough examination of The Phenomenology of Perception and some of Merleau-Ponty's other writings (including sections of The Visible and the Invisible), we shall evaluate Merleau-Ponty's notion of the lived body and his treatment of the relation between language and perception. We shall also consider the relation between The Phenomenology of Perception and Merleau-Ponty's later writings.

PHIL 578. Contemporary Neo-Pragmatism

In the wake of the development of classical pragmatism in the writings of Peirce, James, and Dewey, many critics have modified key pragmatic and pragmaticist insights. This course explores both the founding insights that pragmatism draws from German Idialism, particularly from Kant, Hegel, and Heidegger, and then the recent modifications of pragmatism found in the writing of Rorty, Davidson, Brandom, and Habermas. The basic supposition of the course is that neo-pragmatists reject theories that assume verification in terms of some empirical given or mere coherence of beliefs in favor of determination of meaning and truth relative to some kind of holistic structure, either objective or intersubjective in character. Such a holism can be expressed primarily in the framework of a practical theory of action. Specifically, we shall examine the problem of action explanation in Kant and Hegel, the impetus the Heidegger's turn to an existential ontology gave to action theory, and then the attempts of recent thinkers to establish a theory of meaning, belief, and justification without "foundations". What we will investigate are, in the main, truth theories that target assent (Davidson), consent (Habermas), cultural agreement or conversationalism (Rorty) and inhertibility/entitlement (Brandom).

PHIL 586. Derrida

This course will explore Derrida's relation to Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger. It will show that Derrida's philosophy is a rigorous, radical transformation of the kind of phenomenology evidenced in modernity from Kant to Heidegger.

PHIL 588. Critical Whiteness Studies

This course explores what it means to be white, white privilege, white domination, white invisibility, and whiteness as normative. We explore the important works by critical whiteness theorists and how they have come to think about whiteness and how they have proposed ways of challenging its social, political, and epistemological hegemonic status.

PHL 589. Marion & Phenomenology

Jean-Luc Marion has moved phenomenology in new directions with his development of the notion of saturated phenomenon. Criticizing the grounding of phenomenology in objects (Husserl) and Being (Heidegger), and building from insights of Derrida and Merleau-Ponty, he posits the principle that "the more reduction, the more givenness." On this basis he does a phenomenology of "being given" that is far more receptive to what is nonintuitive, in excess of conceptuality, and theological. The course will explore the genesis of saturated phenomenon, the problem of epistemology that it engenders, and how it has been taken up by theologians both positively (Henri, Mackinlay, Chrétian) and critically (Janicaud).

PHIL 591. Levinas

A discussion of the major works and themes of this important twentieth-century philosopher.

PHIL 592. Simone de Beauvoir

This course discusses the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir by a careful analysis of selected essays, novels, and autobiographical accounts, e.g., The Ethics of Ambiguity, The Second Sex, L'Invitee, and The Mandarins, as well as current important scholarship related to Beauvoir.

PHIL 593. Marxism and Critical Theory

This course examines closely the writings of Karl Marx and the eventual reception of these texts by the Frankfurt School critical theorists. The course focuses both on the early writings of Marx, particularly the Manuscripts and the German Ideology, and also the later writings, particularly the Grundrisse and Capital. The critical theorists drew much inspiration from Marx, though they also forwarded significant criticisms of his work. Critical theorists that will be examined in the course include Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, and Habermas.

PHIL 594. Phenomenology of Race

In this course, we will examine the lived experience of race in relationship to key phenomenological concepts (embodiment, intersubjectivity, lived space, Erlebnis, etc.). Our objective is to work through what a phenomenology of race looks like by deploying important concepts from Fanon, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Sara Ahmed, et al.

PHIL 595. French Feminism

This seminar explores primary texts by philosophers and literary theorists in the "écriture féminine" and sexual difference traditions of French thought as well as work by its feminist critics. The seminar will treat writing by Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Catherine Clément, and Julia Kristeva, among others.

PHIL 596. Deleuze: A Thousand Plateaus

In 1970, Michel Foucault proclaimed, ‘perhaps one day this century will be known as Deleuzian.' Through a close reading of A Thousand Plateaus: Vol. 2 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, we will assess the adequacy of his forecast concerning the innovative philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and his co-author, Felix Guattari.

PHIL 597. Husserl and Descartes

This seminar will consist of a close reading of Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and Husserl's Cartesian Meditations. The intention is to examine each philosopher's text as it stands alone, i.e., in light of their own projects, as well as the effect of Descartes' work on Husserl's phenomenology.

PHIL 598. Deleuze: Anti-Oedipus

Michel Foucault proclaimed that, "perhaps one day this century will be known as Deleuzian." Through a close reading of Anti-Oedipus: Vol. 1 of Capitalism and Schizophrenia, we will assess the adequacy of his forecast concerning the innovative philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and his co-author, Felix Guattari.

PHIL 599. Nietzsche

This course examines the writings and key insights of the influential nineteenth century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

PHIL 601. Hegel's Idealism and Analytic Philosophy

Analytic philosophy, which began in England by refuting idealism in all its forms, is now in the process of making a selective turn toward Hegel. This seminar will consider issues concerning the analytic critique of idealism, the emergence of neo-analytic pragmatism, and the relation of the current nascent analytic turn toward Hegel.

PHIL 603. Heraclitus/Marcus/Nietzsche

Beginning with a detailed introduction to Heraclitus, this course shows how his thinking - especially about time and eternity, contradiction and conflict, unity and selfhood - emerges in the Roman Stoic, Marcus Aurelius, yet also the German philosopher Nietzsche who criticized the Stoics in no uncertain terms. Special attention will be given to the doctrine of the eternal return that is crucial to all three.

PHIL 604. Badiou's Being and Event

Badiou's Being and Event emphasizes the concept of multiplicity to argue that "events" - whether emerging from philosophy, politics, poetry, mathematics, or love - surpass "Being". Being and Event expresses this ontology through a unique approach to the logic of set theory (no background in mathematics or set theory logic is required - Badiou explains the basic ideas).

PHIL 605. Leibniz

This course is an investigation into the philosophy of G.W. Leibniz, dealing with his account of individual substances, his metaphysics, and his epistemology.

PHIL 606. Augustine and Dionysius

We will read Augustine's early dialogues and most of the Dionysian corpus to see how these two seminal figures for medieval Neoplatonism offered contrasting approaches to the self and its relation to the world.

PHIL 608. Confucianism: Philosophy of Change

The Confucian commentaries on the Book of Changes aim to impart knowledge of all possible states of affairs, and to establish the basic nature of change. We will study the commentary composed by the Song dynasty Confucian Cheng Yi, but we will also look at classical sources of the Confucian understanding of change, including the Daodejing and the work of Han Feizi. No background in Chinese philosophy needed.

PHIL 609. Special Topics

Topics vary. See the Philosophy Department website for specific offerings in any given semester. Recent special topics courses have included: Early Modern Women Philosophers; Husserl's Crisis of the European Sciences; Anti-Philosophy; Rythmic Figures: Hölderlin & Heidegger; Deleuze on Cinema; Gadamer's Hermeneutics; etc.

PHIL 613. Contemporary Social and Political Philosophy

How to accommodate the seemingly conflicting notions of unity and diversity is a core problem in contemporary social and political thought. To approach this issue, this seminar critically engages the work of John Rawls, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière and related political thinkers.

PHIL 614. Idealism and German Idealism

Idealism is often criticized but rarely well understood. This course discusses the meaning of the term and then the complex relation among the main German idealists.

PHIL 615. Hegel's Philosophy of Nature

Our seminar will be a close study of the second part of Hegel's Encyclopedia. In the Philosophy of Nature, Hegel traces the dialectic through mechanics, physics and organics. We will also touch on the influences of Goethe and other 18th and 19th C. scientific thinkers on Hegel.

PHIL 616. Hegel's Absolutes

This course examines the ways Hegel defines the absolute, reading and discussing the culminating moments of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, Philosophy of Right, the encyclopedia Philosophy of Spirit, and Science of Logic. Questions for the course include: what is absolute knowing and how is it different from absolute spirit? Are art, religion and philosophy equivalent in value? What is the difference between the logical idea and the absolute in its other forms? What is the status of the state, for Hegel? What are the ramifications of these absolutes for the Hegelian person?

PHIL 617. Descartes / Spinoza / Leibniz

This seminar engages the tradition of Continental Rationalism, with specific attention to the writings of Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Rather than narrowly focusing on their contributions to epistemology, the course connects seventeenth century theory of knowledge to metaphysics, ethical and political thought, and early modern science.

PHIL 618. Art and Truth

This seminar studies the post-Platonic Western aesthetic tradition centering on the theme of art and truth initially raised by Plato.

PHIL 619. Kierkegaard: The Later Works

This course focuses on a selection of Kierkegaard's later writings. Topics of class discussions (and readings) are the following: 1) Kierkegaard as Philosopher contra Hegel: Johanned Climacus' Concluding Unscientific Postscript (1846) 2) Kierkegaard as Christian Thinker: his 1848-49 self-acclaimed "best" writing: Anti-Climacus' Sickness Onto Death and Practice in Christianity 3) Kierkegaard as Author: the not-pseudonymous works "On my work as an Author," "The Point of View for my Work as An Author, and "Armed Neutrality."

PHIL 620. Longergan: Insight into Insight

In 1957 Bernard Lonergan published a little book called, Insight; A Study of Human Understanding. In it he transposes the metaphysical categories of Aristotle and Aquinas into the more accessible language of a psychology of understanding. He gives a detailed, critical, phenomenological description of the process of knowing from the first question, through thinking, understanding and arguing to the final conclusion in a judgment. It is a possible answer to the questions about knowing raised by Hume, Kant, Husserl and the Post-Modernists. The course will focus on selected readings from this text.

PHIL 621. Epicureans, Stoics, and Skeptics

This course focuses on Hellenistic philosophy, which emerged primarily in ancient Greece and Rome after the death of Aristotle. Authors from each of the three major Hellenistic schools will be read, including but not limited to Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Sextus Empiricus. The course chiefly concerns the therapeutic role of philosophy in the good life, but also considers some issues in metaphysics and epistemology.

PHIL 622. The Body and the Non-Rational in Platonic Philosophy

This seminar is an examination of Plato's treatment, in various works, of elements he tends to oppose to reason, such as the body and what has to do with the body, including appetite, non-rational desires (including and especially erotic desire), and non-intellectual pleasures. What is the nature of these elements? What, according to Plato, is their metaphysical and ethical status? We will also examine how Plato's dichotomy between the rational and the non-rational bears on his notion of psychic health and on his ethics generally. We will consider whether it is fair to characterize Platonic ethics as an endeavor to purify oneself of all things unrelated to reason, and whether Plato holds that reason does and ought to exert strict control over the lower parts of the soul. Time permitting, we will look at how later thinkers, notably, the Neoplatonists Plotinus and Augustine, interpreted Plato's thoughts on the body and the non-rational, and what they considered the aim of Platonic ethics to be.

PHIL 623. Husserl's Analyses of Passive Syntheses

This course will begin with an overview of the main tenets of Husserl's phenomenology, and then turn to a careful reading of his Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis. While we will focus primarily on this one text, we will occasionally make comparisons to other texts written by Husserl, especially those written during the same time period.

PHIL 624. Medieval Women Philosophers

Unable to write in the style of scholars and priests, women in the Middle Ages produced a discourse that ran both side-by-side and counter to the mainstream of medieval philosophy. We will read some of the most influential of the protagonists in this alternative Middle Ages: Heloise of Argenteuil, Hildegard of Bingen, Herrad of Hohenburg, and Hadewijch of Antwerp.

PHIL 625. Hegel Goethe Hölderlin Translation

This course caters both to those with no German and those with German by using different techniques for evaluation and discussion in class, such as (for non-German readers) comparing different English translations of a poem by e.g., Goethe or a passage from Hegel, and discussing it alongside readings about what translation means and what issues arise when doing it (e.g., Gadamer's writing on translation in general, and Benjamin's, Hegel's, Derrida's and others' about translating German philosophy and literature), and, for students who know German, adding that they must provide their own translations from the German into English. This course is designed for those who enjoy the interface of literature and philosophy; it also provides important practice for students training to do advanced scholarship and translations in the 19th C. German Philosophical Tradition.

PHIL 626. Continental/Early Modern Texts

This course will investigate the ways early modern philosophical texts have been read, interpreted, and appropriated in contemporary continental philosophy. In each segment of the course, we will examine a more recent text together with the early modern material it engages. Texts and figures to be examined could include: Foucault's The Order of Things together with John Wilkins, Giovanni della Porta, Descartes, Bacon, Arnauld, Linneaus, and Buffon; Benjamin with Lohenstein and Opitz; Heidegger with Descartes and Leibniz; De Man with Pascal; Derrida with Rousseau; Deleuze with Spinoza and Hume; Althusser, Balibar, and Negri with Spinoza, etc.

PHIL 627. Epicurean Ethics

This course is a close examination of the ethical system of Epicurus, who claimed that pleasure is the highest good in life. Course texts will include primary works by Epicurus and his followers, as well as works by his critics Cicero, Plutarch, and others.

PHIL 629. Derrida

Jacques Derrida is an influential thinker for philosophy of language and literature, social-political philosophy, and the interpretation of the history of metaphysics. His strategy of philosophical deconstruction is often misunderstood, but it is important and useful for anyone interested in problems of meaning.

PHIL 630. Literary and Philosophical Modernisms

This class will address the contested categories of ‘modernity' and ‘modernism' through the close reading of literary and theoretical texts. Taking a comparative perspective, the course will address the emergence of theme of modernity in the poetry of Baudelaire and Mallarmé, in the narrative fiction of Henry James and Virginia Woolf, and in the theoretical and critical writings of Benjamin and Adorno, Heidegger and Derrida, Auerbach and Fredrick Jameson.

PHIL 631. Aristotle: De Anima

This course traces Aristotle's account of the soul and its various capacities. The credibility of Aristotle's ‘philosophy of the mind' has been challenged. To what extent does he manage to develop viable positions?

PHIL 632. Romanticism in Philosophy and Literature

Romanticism remains a highly nebulous term in both philosophy and literary studies. In this course, we will explore why romanticism is still, nonetheless, a crucial point of reference for debates in the contemporary critical humanities. We will read key texts by the German romantic philosophers, in a bid to understand their still-surprising attempt to fuse aesthetics and politics. In our reading of the parallel tradition of British romantic poetry, we will assess the impact of the French revolution on prosody, and ask after the role of ideas of nature and the imagination during the full flowering of 19th Century industrial capitalism.

PHIL 633. Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics takes as its foundation Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which emphasizes the role of character and excellence in our moral assessments. This course considers the directions in which contemporary virtue ethicists have taken Aristotle's character-based ethics as they have attempted to situate his notions of virtue, character, and happiness in a contemporary context and thereby to create an alternative to non-character based ethical systems such as Kantianism and Utilitarianism. The course will focus on the following questions: On what do contemporary virtue ethicists base the virtues (e.g., on some notion of human well-being; on the care of others; on our intuitions)? Which virtues are interesting and important? Are some virtues gender-specific? Practice-specific? How grounded in Aristotelian moral theory is contemporary virtue ethics? What are the major contemporary critiques of virtue ethics? Readings include works by Aristotle, Alasdair MacIntyre, Iris Murdoch, Susan Wolf, G.E.M. Anscombe, Susan Okin, Philippa Foot, Thomas Nagel, and others.

PHIL 634. Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Art, Religion, and Philosophy

This course treats Hegel's 1830 accounts of objective and absolute Spirit in the Encyclopedia, which form the basis of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Philosophy of Art, and Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 635. Marxist Aesthetics

While conversant with the broad sweep of Western art and literature, Marx rarely addressed the social role of art directly. When he did, however, he was careful not to reduce the question of the aesthetic directly or entirely to economic or political determination. Despite this, Stalinist dogma in the 20th century tended to explain the function of art entirely in terms of the class position of the artist. In this seminar, we will explore Marxist writings that resisted this reductive stance. From the Russian formalists through the work of the Frankfurt School, from Lukacs to Rancière, Marxists have sought to think art's critical as well as conformist capacities. They have been at the forefront of attempts to complicate familiar divisions within and between form and content, genre and style, text and context.

PHIL 637. Deleuze on Cinema

Deleuze's 2-volume Cinema develops philosophical concepts by exploring elements of filmmaking: for example, from montage and editing, he develops concepts of discontinuous perception; from close-ups, he develops concepts of body and affect, from plot and flashbacks, he develops concepts of action and time, and from the juxtaposition of video and audio he develops a concept of interrupted signs. We focus on Deleuze's concept of time, which draws from Bergson. In addition to textual analysis and conceptual speculation, we watch and discuss a wide range of film clips.

PHIL 638. Dionysius and His Interpreters

We will spend the term on a close reading of Dionysius the Areopagite's On the Divine Names, one of the greatest works of Christian Neoplatonism, but we will not privilege the original Greek version of the text. The Latin Middle Ages built its own version, through multiple translations, scholia, and commentaries. We will look at how Eriugena, Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Denys the Carthusian, and Marsilio Ficino constructed and reconstructed the text that they then read and revered.

PHIL 639. Kant's Religion Within the Bounds of Reason

This course is a critical study of Kant's most important work on religion.

PHIL 640. Queer Theory and Transgender Studies

Two major figures said to have launched the movement now called "queer theory" are Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. The course will begin with an examination of important selections of their works. We will then turn to subsequent key texts in queer theory and transgender studies, looking especially at the alliances and crucial differences between these two movements. Concepts such as sexuality, gender, embodiment, discourse, and institutionalized power regimes will be central to our discussions of the texts.

PHIL 641. Plato and Nietzsche

Each week juxtaposing a Platonic dialogue with excerpts from Nietzsche's books, this course examines and evaluates the obvious differences between them: on questions of metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, and aesthetics. But it also considers their remarkable similarities: their philosophical art, their aristocratic politics, and their salvific aspirations, among others. One central concern will be the relationship between love and time; another, the difference between reincarnation and eternal return.

PHIL 643. Plato's Phaedrus and Symposium

This course is a close reading of Plato's dialogues Phaedrus and Symposium. The entirety of the dialogues will be read along with secondary-source material. Topics to be considered include: the nature of love and its relation to philosophy, the soul, desire, and rhetoric and writing.

PHIL 647. Nietzsche on Culture, Music & Art

This course highlights Nietzsche's view of culture from the perspectives of an aesthetic will to power rooted in a Dionysian affirmation of life. The lecture will give a comprehensive idea of Nietzsche's thought and style. This will be done from the standpoint of contemporary Continental philosophy such as deconstruction, hermeneutics, and critical theory.

PHIL 648. Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) lived in catastrophic times, and wrote about them with precision. He followed the consequences of his thinking, even when this meant abandoning the pretension that thought is adequate to grasp reality without remainder. We will read a selection of Walter Benjamin's Texts (in translation), focusing on his early aesthetics and criticism of art, his theory of experience, ideas and language, and his understanding of historical time.

PHIL 653. Deconstruction after Derrida

Often, the philosophical movement known as ‘deconstruction' is associated simply and only with its founder, Jacques Derrida. But Derrida's ideas were taken up and transformed from the 1970s onwards in a variety of disciplines by thinkers who often displayed comparable ingenuity to deconstruction's founder. In this course, we will begin by familiarizing ourselves with some of Derrida's key essays, before exploring how scholars in literary theory, art criticism, philosophy, architecture and political science extended and reinvented key notions originally developed by Derrida. Thinkers to be studied include Paul de Man, Jean-Luc Nancy, Catherine Malabou, Helene Cixous, Judith Butler and Geoffrey Hartman.

PHIL 654. Philosophy of Time

This course addresses some of the more influential philosophical analyses of time and temporality in the history of philosophy, including those from Aristotle and Augustine, and more contemporary philosophers such as Husserl and Heidegger.

PHIL 657. Subjectivity and Science

This class will read and discuss French philosophy of science (Bachelard, etc.) alongside Foucault, Lacan and others, to assess the extent to which French philosophy has insisted on the implication of the problem of subjectivity in the question of scientific knowledge. We shall bring things right up to date, including a reading of Badiou's recent texts on science.

PHIL 658. Jacques Lacan

Jacques Lacan revolutionized psychoanalytic theory and practice in the name of what he called a 'return to Freud'. Despite the many twists and turns of Lacan's thinking, a number of things remained constant: a commitment to reading Freud in dialogue with almost the entirety of the Western intellectual tradition, taking in philosophy, art, literature, religion and more; an uncompromising and controversial commitment to the most radical theoretical and practical consequences of the Freudian discovery of the unconscious. We will read representative texts, critically assessing the relevance of Lacan for subjectivity, culture, art and politics.

PHIL 672. Deleuze: Difference and Repetition

This course will be devoted to a close reading of Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition.

PHIL 675. Phenomenology and Feminism

Phenomenology is a philosophical method that carries out an analysis of "experience" - but traditionally, that experience is first neutralized of gender, sexual difference, and sometimes embodiment in general. For this reason, feminists have rightly criticized this approach. However, there is a history of theorists who have employed phenomenology precisely to carry out feminist projects. This course will examine certain traditional texts that established phenomenology as a method as well as contemporaries of these philosophers who already employed phenomenological methods toward feminist goals. In addition, we will look at writings in the current "movement" of feminist phenomenology.

PHIL 685. Gender, Nature, Being

Is gender natural or not? This is a recent debate among feminists, enhanced by contributions from transgender theorists, but it has an ancient lineage, beginning with Plato, who used it not only to argue that women should become philosopher-queens, but also to introduce his doctrines of nature and being. This course begins and ends with recent thinkers, but tries to clarify it through an intervening survey of differing accounts: Greeks, Catholics, queer theorists, evolutionary biologists, evolutionary psychologists, philosophers of science, genealogists of selfhood, and Sophists. One goal of the course will be to answer our central question (Is gender natural?), but a more important goal will be to consider how much is at stake whichever answer one favors. For above all, this course aims to show, every answer to this question makes commitments to a specific understanding of body and mind, nature and being.

PHIL 689. Graduate Teaching Seminar II

This seminar in philosophical pedagogy is intended for graduate students who are teaching their own philosophy courses and who have already completed PHIL 690. It is primarily a practicum for discussing, sharing, and working through challenges and successes participants are encountering in their own classes, as well as an opportunity for reflection on recent work in scholarship of teaching and learning.

PHIL 690. Graduate Teaching Seminar I

This seminar in philosophical pedagogy is intended for graduate students who will be teaching their own courses in the future. Its has three goals: 1) preparing students to design, deliver, and assess their own classes, including writing syllabi, choosing course material, developing effective assingments, facilitating student discussion, responding to student work, grading, and dealing with difficult classroom situations; 2) acquainting students with some of the most relevant literature from recent scholarship of teaching and learning; 3) engaging philosophical texts, both classical and contemporary, that address issues connected to teaching or learning.

PHIL 700. Research Thesis - Philosophy

This course is for students writing an M.A. thesis.

PHIL 701. Dissertation - FT

This course is for students writing a doctoral dissertation.

PHIL 705 & 706. Exchange Program - FT

This course is for students studying abroad in an exchange program in the fall semester.

PHIL 710 & 711. Readings in Philosophy I & II

This course is a tutorial with an individual professor on a topic not offered in a regular graduate seminar. Enrollment by permission of the chair only.