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 2021 Courses

Philosophy University Seminar
13185 01 (21308)
Roeber
9:35-10:50 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 02 (24258)
Kelsey
12:45-2:00 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 texts from four authors: Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Hume. 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.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 03 (21307)
Watson
3:55-5:10 TR
First Year Students Only

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. 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.

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.


Philosophy University Seminar - ONLINE CLASS
13185 04 (21309)
Nolan
11:10-12:25
TR
First Year Students Only

This introduction to philosophy is designed to introduce students to some important topics of controversy in philosophy today (and indeed most of these topics have been matters of controversy for most of philosophy’s history). Some of the questions discussed will be questions about ourselves: what are our minds, do we have free will, in what does our personal identity consist? Other questions are fundamental questions about the world around us: is there a god, what is the nature of time, what are numbers? Some of the questions are about how we come to know things, or have reason to believe things: do we have reasons for our beliefs about the external world, and how can we draw conclusions that take us further than our evidence? Finally, there are moral questions: what is the morally right thing to do, and why should we be moral?


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 06 (26938)
McDaniel
9:35-10:50
TR
First Year Students Only

This course provides an introduction to philosophy. We will begin with a brief study of elementary logic, philosophical terminology, and philosophical methods. We will then do serious philosophy, i.e., we will carefully and critically assess the views and arguments put forth and defended by the authors in our text.

This course assumes no prior knowledge of, or familiarity with, philosophy. However, the subject matter is not easy; philosophical problems are complex and it requires effort and patience to think through them.

This will be a “hybrid” course. Tuesdays will meet face to face, and I will present a lecture on the chapter. Thursdays we will meet on zoom so that we can have a mask-free course discussion.


Honors Seminar - ONLINE CLASS
13190 01 (31181)
Rea
11:10-12:25
TR
Department Approval Required

The science fiction genre is rich with stories that explore classic philosophical questions or thematically engage large-scale philosophical movements and worldviews. In this seminar, we will discuss several science fiction novels, short stories, and films whose central themes or plot elements make significant connections with important ideas or topics in contemporary feminist philosophy.  A video "trailer" for the class can be found here.