Philosophy University Seminars

Philosophy university seminars are discussion-based introductions to philosophy. All seminars are taught by a regular faculty member, and none have more than 19 students. Some focus on particular philosophical questions or topics, while others range more widely.

Fall 2018 Courses

Philosophy University Seminar
13185 01 (11611)
Teh
9:30-10:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This university seminar will provide a rigorous introduction to the philosophical analysis of beauty and its relationship to broader themes within art, ethics, religion, and cultural criticism. The central topics of the seminar are the nature of beauty, the objectivity and rationality of aesthetic "tastes", the role of criticism and interpretation, the relationship between art and morality, the vocation of the artist, and the relationship between beauty and the sacred.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 02 (11610)
Roeber
11:00-12:15
 TR
First Year Students Only

This course will explore the nature and relevance of philosophy, as well as major themes in Western philosophy, including the existence of God and the origins of the universe, knowledge of the external world, the mind-body problem, personal identity, free will, morality, and the meaning of life. It also aims to teach how to think, read, and write critically about philosophical issues.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13195 01 (11615)
Bays
9:30-10:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar will focus on interaction between philosophy and mathematics. We’ll start by looking at the role that mathematics has played in the history of philosophy (and the role that philosophy has played in the history of mathematics). Then we’ll go more in depth on philosophical issues concerning the nature of the infinite and the relationship between mathematics and the natural world.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13195 02 (11613)
Shields
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only

A general introduction to philosophy, taught in a seminar format for students in the science and arts and letters honors program, with emphasis on perennial problems such as the existence of God, human freedom, and moral obligation. The course is also intended to sharpen the student's skills of critical thinking.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13185 03 (11726)
Watson
3:30-4:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar will focus on an introduction to problems concerning the origins of the self and human subjectivity. Texts will include selections from Sophocles, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Hobbes, Montainge, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Sartre, DeBeauvoir and Gadamer. We will examine major writings on the historical development and cultural relevance of the concept of the self. Our objective will be to attempt to come to grips with these authors’ positions, to come to decision and judgment regarding the validity, veracity and relevance of their accounts and arguments. Written requirements will include a series of short papers and a longer research paper. In addition to regular attendance and participation in the seminar, each student will be expected to make a seminar presentation.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13185 04 (15747)
Watson
5:05-6:20 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar will focus on an introduction to problems concerning the origins of the self and human subjectivity. Texts will include selections from Sophocles, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Hobbes, Montainge, Shakespeare, Kierkegaard, Sartre, DeBeauvoir and Gadamer. We will examine major writings on the historical development and cultural relevance of the concept of the self. Our objective will be to attempt to come to grips with these authors’ positions, to come to decision and judgment regarding the validity, veracity and relevance of their accounts and arguments. Written requirements will include a series of short papers and a longer research paper. In addition to regular attendance and participation in the seminar, each student will be expected to make a seminar presentation.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13185 05 (13166)
Blanchette
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar is an introduction to several central issues in philosophy, using both historical and contemporary texts. Topics to be treated will include some subset of these: The nature of human knowledge, the existence of God and the rationality of faith, the nature of the human mind (and its relation to the brain), ethical theory.

Requirements include active seminar participation, a number of short and medium-length writing assignments, quizzes, and exams.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13185 06 (12324)
Kelsey
2:00-3:15 TR
First Year Students Only

What is philosophy? What is it good for? In this course we will approach these questions by the method of “taste and see.” To that end we will read (and re-read), slowly and carefully, three texts by two widely-acknowledged masters of philosophical writing, Plato and Descartes. Our first task will be to “taste”: that is, to try to enter into some lines of thought opened up by these texts, to follow those lines in our own thinking, to think those thoughts ourselves. Our second task will be to “see”: that is, to try to step back out again, to reflect on the experience, and to try to make articulate, in conversation and writing, what we make of it, as well as of the larger enterprise of which it was a sample.


Honors Philosophy University Seminar
13185 07 (11614)
Cross
2:00-3:15 TR
First Year Students Only

The course introduces some central philosophical concepts and methods by tracing the origins of Ancient Greek thought, beginning with the pre-Socratic philosophers and advancing through the most important philosophers up to the time of Augustine. In addition to this, the course allows  some time to be devoted to close readings of extracts from Thomas Aquinas on topics related to those discussed in the earlier thinkers. The emphasis will be two-fold: while endeavoring to understand and appreciate the historical milieu within which the questions considered first arose, we will, at the same time, seek to determine for ourselves where we should agree, and where we should disagree, with the theses promulgated. Among the questions given sharp formulation in our period are: Is morality relative? Or are there moral facts? What does morality have to do, if anything, with religion? Are there defensible reasons for being a theist? Or is theism somehow essentially irrational and indefensible?