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Skidmore College
Philosophy Department


PH 101-001 - Introduction to Philosophy
Days/Times - T/TH 9:40-11:00   OR  T/TH 11:10-12:30
Credits: 3
Professor: W. Lewis

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.

Open to first- and second-year students or by permission of instructor. (Fulfills humanities requirement.)

PH 112H - The Cave: Philosophy in the Shadows
Days/Times - M 12:20-1:15 and T/TH 2:10-3:30
Credits: 4
Professor: L. Jorgensen

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.

Note: While this is an Honors Forum course, it is not a requirement that students be a part of the Honors Forum to take this course.

PH 203 - Ancient Greek Philosophy
Days/Times - W/F 12:20-2:10
Credits: 4
Professor: S. Carli

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?

It will be our task to enter into that conversation and consider its relevance for our own lives. Special attention will be given to Plato’s and Aristotle’s approaches to these questions.

PH 207 - Logic
Days/Times - M/W/F 9:05-10:00
Credits: 3
Professor: P. Murray

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.

Note: Fulfills QR2 requirement.

PH 210 - Aesthetics
Days/Times - T/TH 12:40-2:10
Credits: 3
Professor: R. Lilly

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.

Note: Fulfills humanities requirement.

PH 215 - Buddhist Philosophy
Days/Times - T/TH 2:10-3:30
Credits: 3
Professor: J. Smith

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.

Notes: Designated a non-Western culture course; fulfills humanities requirement.

PH 241 - Mind, Thought and Consciousness
Days/Times - M/W 2:30 - 3:50
Credits: 3
Professor: L. Jorgensen

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 things).

This course will introduce you to a philosophical approach to the study of mind as it is discussed in contemporary analytic philosophy. We will try to come to an understanding of the nature of the mind and its relation to the brain and body. We will begin by considering some of the metaphysical foundations for a philosophy of mind and the demand for a naturalized explanation of mentality. We will then give close attention to two particular topics in the philosophy of mind: the “hard problem” of consciousness and questions about intentionality (how our thoughts represent or are about something).

PH 311 - Existential Philosophy
Days/Times - M/W 4:00-5:50
Credits: 4
Professor: J. Smith

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.

Prerequisites: PH 204 or RE 241; or permission of instructor.

PH 329 - Seminar in Kant
Days/Times - T/TH 3:40-5:30
Credits: 4
Professor: R. Lilly

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.

Prerequisites: PH 204 or permission of instructor.

PH 330C - Women Philosophers of the Seventeenth Century
Days/Times - T/TH 11:10-12:30
Credits: 3
Professor: L. Jorgensen

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.

By revisiting these philosophers, we will have a richer conception of the innovations of the seventeenth century, and we will give rightful place to some of the women who engaged in modern philosophy from its inception.

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of the instructor.