FALL 2017 COURSE OFFERING
An historical and topical survey, this course will introduce the student to the discipline
of philosophy through the close reading of representative texts, both historical and
contemporary. Through analysis of the texts, lecture, and discussion the student will
gain an understanding of philosophy both as a unique discipline and as a way of asking
and attempting to answer the most profound questions about ourselves and our world
that we may pose.
PH 112H - The Cave: Philosophy in the Shadows
An introductory philosophy course, which looks at the powerful metaphor of philosophy
as a way of emerging from the darkness of the cave into the light of day. Students
will read seminal works in philosophy, each of which has a similar argumentative structure:
being released from faulty preconceptions (our lives in the cave) in order to ascend
towards intellectual illumination (the emergence from the cave), only to return to
our previous lives (a return to the cave, but now wiser). While each of the authors
reflects on this process in some way, they are rather diverse in how they understand
the nature of philosophy and how philosophy might help us to live our lives. Proposals
will include ascents towards ethics, religion, science, freedom, and social justice.
PH 203 - Ancient Greek Philosophy
Ancient Greek thinkers engaged in a continuous dialogue about certain core philosophical
questions, such as: Why do we philosophize? What is the nature of the cosmos and what
place do human beings have in it? How do we attain knowledge? What is happiness and
how can we achieve it? Is ethical conduct necessary to live a good life?
An introduction to the basic concepts and methods of modern symbolic logic, with a
focus on their application to proper reasoning. Students learn how to represent sentences
in logical notation, to reconstruct arguments in that notation, to assess arguments
for validity and soundness, and to prove conclusions from premises using a system
of natural deduction. Students also learn to recognize common argument forms and common
mistakes in reasoning (fallacies), are introduced to philosophical issues related
to logic, and learn how symbolic logic is the basis for the digital computer.
PH 210 - Aesthetics
A study of the aesthetic dimension of life in relation to the artist, the art object,
the audience, and human experience in general. Several important and diverse theories
of the aesthetic will be analyzed, discussed, and used in examining examples of art.
An introduction to selected themes, schools, and thinkers of the Buddhist philosophical
tradition in India, Tibet, China, and Japan. Buddhist metaphysics and ethics are
examined with reference to the nature of reality and the person, causality and action,
wisdom and compassion, emptiness and nihilism. Comparisons are made to Western philosophers,
especially regarding the Buddhist critique of substance and the Buddhist ideal of
compassionate openness to the world.
PH 241 - Mind, Thought and Consciousness
Our concept of mind is fundamental to how we think of ourselves and of others. And
yet, it is a vexed question just what the mind is—its nature and its relation to other
things that matter to us (our bodies, our histories, our abilities to reflect, imagine,
and project our actions into the future and act as responsible agents, among other
A study of the central concepts of existential philosophy as found in the writings
of such thinkers as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, and Marcel. Concepts such
as freedom, facticity, dread, nothingness, the absurd, being-for-itself, and being-in-itself
will be examined.
PH 329 - Seminar in Kant
A study of Immanuel Kant, the pivotal thinker of modern Western philosophy. Kant offers
a critique of both early modern empiricist and rationalists, introduces the transcendental
standpoint into philosophy, and sets the stage for nineteenth- and twentieth-century
philosophers, all of whom respond to his critique of theoretical and practical reason
in one way or another.
PH 330C - Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century
The standard narrative of seventeenth-century philosophy is dominated by men (Hobbes,
Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke). But women as well were active members of the
intellectual community: they were nuns, princesses, courtiers, and countesses, but
they were also philosophers, metaphysicians, scientists, and early defenders of the
“equality of the sexes.” Some of their works were widely circulated in the seventeenth
century, but most have faded from view over the intervening centuries. Philosophers
today are starting to recover some of these lost works and revive the neglected voices.
In this course, we will explore the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Princess Elisabeth
of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, and Mary Astell. The writings of these
philosophers cover topics including the nature of knowledge, the education of women,
criticisms of mind-body dualism, science, religion, politics, and the good life, as
it might be lived out in the midst of great personal success or deep personal difficulty.