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 2017 Courses

Philosophy University Seminar
13185 01 (11686)
Kraus
9:30-10:45
 TR
First Year Students Only

What is the human being? This question will lead us a way into philosophy and raise philosophical problems concerning human knowledge and science, belief and religion, moral agency, human communication and life in society. Starting from the classic definition of the human being as rational animal, we will explore accounts of the human nature throughout the history of philosophy, as well as from more recent scientific perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on attentive reading and discussion of seminal texts from the history of philosophy, including texts from Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. 
The course will include (i) lecture elements introducing key figures, major philosophical conceptions, arguments, and theories concerning the human being; and (ii) classroom discussions of case studies and of selected texts drawn from the history of philosophy, as well as from contemporary philosophy and science.


Philosophy University Seminar
13185 02 (11685)
Teh
11:00-12:15
 TR
First Year Students Only


Philosophy University Seminar
13185-03 (11687)
Teh
12:30-1:45
 TR
First Year Students Only


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 01 (11690)
Blanchette
9:30-10:45
 TR
First Year Students Only

This seminar is an introduction to several central issues in philosophy, using both historical and contemporarytexts. 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 Seminar
13195 02 (11688)

Roeber
9:30-10:45
 TR
First Year StudentsOnly


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 03 (11816)

Watson
3:30-4:45
 TR
First Year StudentsOnly

On the Origins of the Self 

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, Beauvoir 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 Seminar
13195 04 (17886)
Nolan
11:00 – 12:15
 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?


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 05 (13811)
Bernstein
12:30-1:45
 TR
First Year Students Only

This course introduces students to the most awesome and mind-blowing of topics: philosophy. We will think through some of philosophy’s most interesting questions and puzzles, including: could time travel be possible? How is the mind related to the brain? What sorts of things exist?  What makes you who you are? What counts as art and music as opposed to lines and noise? Does life have meaning? How should one respond to moral dilemmas? In addition to learning about some central questions in philosophy, the goal of this course will be to learn how to do philosophy, rather than merely study it. Students will leave the course with new powerful tools of analysis and argumentation, and be able to apply these new tools to anything they choose to study and do.


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 06 (12555)

Delaney
11:00-12:15
 TR
First Year Students Only


Honors Philosophy Seminar 
13195 07 (11689)

Shields
2:00-3:15
 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.