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.

Spring 2019 Courses

Philosophy University Seminar
13185 01 (21441)
Kraus
2:00-3:15 TR
First Year Students Only

In this course we will pursue answers to one of the most central questions: What is it to be a human? Or just: What makes you a human being? By engaging in a dialogue with major figures of the history of philosophy, as well as with contemporary philosophers, we will discuss questions such as: What can I know? What do I believe? What may I hope? – Am I a mind or a brain? Am I identical with my past and with my future self? Do I have an immortal soul? – What should I do? Am I really free? Why Is Human Suffering Possible? – What matters for human development? And finally: What makes me the person I am?

Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of seminal texts from, among others, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant, as well as on developing and exercising a discussion culture in the classroom and a writing culture outside the classroom.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 02 (24983)
Roeber
2:00-3:15
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.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 03 (21440)
Watson
3:30-4:45 TR
First Year Students Only

Books:

The Oedipus Plays of Sophocles (Roche translation: Meridian).

Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics (Irwin translation: Hackett).

Saint Augustine, Confessions (Pine Coffin trans. Penguin)

Hobbes, Leviathan, Macpherson trans. Penguin.

Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Princeton)

Sartre, Existentialism and Human Emotions (Citadel).

 

This seminar will focus on an historical introduction to problems concerning the origins of the self and human subjectivity. Texts will include selections from Sophocles, Aristotle, Saint Augustine, Hobbes, Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Beauvoir and Gadamer. The above texts are available at the bookstore (others will be provided). Like all university seminars, this one will be writing intensive with approximately twenty-pages of required writing (and in some cases revising) over the course of the semester. In addition, each student will be expected to make a seminar presentation.

 

Procedures:

Our objective will be to examine major writings on the historical development and cultural relevance of the concept of the self. To this end we will attempt come to grips with these authors’ positions, to come to decision and judgment regarding the validity, veracity and relevance of their accounts and arguments -- and thus to acquire an initial introduction to the discipline of Philosophy. This course will proceed as a seminar, beginning each session with a student presentation (précis).  Specific text assignments will be provided as the course proceeds. Students are expected to share in class discussion on the basis of the completed readings. Consequently, students are expected to attend class regularly and to submit all writing assignments on time. Irregular attendance will make it difficult for the student to maintain continuity with the issues developed and to contribute to the seminar and will affect the course grade adversely.

       

Requirements:

Papers: Three 3-4 page papers following course sections, topics to be assigned.

One 2-3 page seminar précis.

One 10—12 page research paper, topic to be chosen in consultation with the professor, a 6 page preliminary draft due in early April; final draft due the last class day.

Course Grade: Short Papers: 50%; Research Paper: 40%. Participation: 10%.

The instructor’s office is 317 Malloy Hall. He is available during regularly scheduled office hours, as announced, and at other times by appointment.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 05 (21442)
T. Cory
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar introduces philosophical problems concerning human knowing, acting, and living in society, through a rigorous study of seminal texts from the history of philosophy. We will investigate themes such as justice, moral choices, friendship, the relationship between faith and reason, and the roles of work, leisure, and religion in society. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of texts, and an in-depth study of the philosophical problems that they pose.   


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 06 (11726)
T. Cory
11:00-12:15 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar introduces philosophical problems concerning human knowing, acting, and living in society, through a rigorous study of seminal texts from the history of philosophy. We will investigate themes such as justice, moral choices, friendship, the relationship between faith and reason, and the roles of work, leisure, and religion in society. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of texts, and an in-depth study of the philosophical problems that they pose.   


Philosophy University Seminar

13185 07 (30863)
Kelsey
12:30-1:45 TR
First Year Students Only

Plato’s Republic contains many ideas about many topics; most of the topics are of manifest human interest, and most of the ideas are developed with tremendous imagination and power. But though in these respects the book is an ideal text for a first course in philosophy, it is also very demanding: it is an advanced book, not addressed to beginners; it is a long book, devoted to a single, complicated line of argument; and it is an old book, set in a world that is nowadays in many ways very alien.


Still, on the principle that few things worth doing are easy, and that anything worth doing is worth doing well, in this course we will read Plato’s Republic, in its entirety, twice: once relatively slowly, in order to have time to practice new skills, and then again relatively quickly, with an eye on the forest as opposed to the trees. Both times we will read with an eye ultimately on exploring, at leisure and in freedom, the ideas the book contains and the ideas it provokes in us.