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 2022 Courses

Philosophy University Seminar: Unique and Difficult Questions that Matter: An Introduction to Philosophy
13185 01 (11321)
Seachris
9:30-10:45 TR
First Year Students Only

Why are you here? What is real? What can you know? How should you live? For what should you hope? You did not choose to exist, but here you are. In virtue of being here, and in virtue of being a human being, questions like these partly define and depict the condition—the human condition—in which we find ourselves. Philosophy was and continues to be a discipline that systematically attempts to frame and answer such questions with intellectual rigor—questions that we all ask at one time or another in one form or another.

This course offers a targeted glimpse into key problems and questions in philosophy, with central aspects of the human condition serving as our guide. Course readings will include a mix of historic and contemporary philosophical sources, as well as publicly-engaged pieces aimed at connecting perennial philosophical questions to twenty-first century life.  

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities.


Philosophy University Seminar: Unique and Difficult Questions that Matter: An Introduction to Philosophy
13185 02 (11320)
Seachris
11:00-12:15 TR
First Year Students Only

Why are you here? What is real? What can you know? How should you live? For what should you hope? You did not choose to exist, but here you are. In virtue of being here, and in virtue of being a human being, questions like these partly define and depict the condition—the human condition—in which we find ourselves. Philosophy was and continues to be a discipline that systematically attempts to frame and answer such questions with intellectual rigor—questions that we all ask at one time or another in one form or another.

This course offers a targeted glimpse into key problems and questions in philosophy, with central aspects of the human condition serving as our guide. Course readings will include a mix of historic and contemporary philosophical sources, as well as publicly-engaged pieces aimed at connecting perennial philosophical questions to twenty-first century life.  

Most classes will consist of a combination of lecture, discussion, and group activities.


Philosophy University Seminar: On the Origins of the Self
13185 03 (15617)
Watson
3:30-4:45
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 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 — and thus to acquire an initial introduction to the discipline of Philosophy.


Philosophy University Seminar: On the Origins of the Self
13185 04 (17511)
Watson
5:05-6:20
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 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 — and thus to acquire an initial introduction to the discipline of Philosophy.


Philosophy University Seminar: An Introduction to Philosophy
13185 05 (21072)
D. Cory
9:30-10:45
TR
First Year Students Only


Philosophy University Seminar: An Introduction to Philosophy
13185 06 (21075)
D. Cory
11:00-12:15
TR
First Year Students Only


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 01 (11323)
Roeber
9:30-10:45 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 Seminar
13195 02 (11322)
Kelsey
12:30-1:45 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.


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 03 (11409)
Montero
9:30-10:45 TR

First Year Students Only

In this course, perennial questions of philosophy will be introduced through the lens of digital technology. We shall explore topics such as whether we might be living in a computer simulation, whether one could have a meaningful life in a virtual word, whether computers think, and whether we should be concerned about our increased dependence on digitally—as opposed to cranially—stored information. ​


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 04 (14149)
Blanchette
11:00-12:15 TR

First Year Students Only

This seminar focuses on a handful of philosophical issues that lie at the heart of what it is to be a human being. These will include prominently questions about how our limited human faculties manage to give us knowledge about the vast world, both material and immaterial, around us, and questions about the nature of political organization and political obligation. The work of the seminar will include discussion, and the writing of a number of short and medium-sized essays, with an eye on honing students' ability to write clearly and argue effectively.


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 05 (12528)
Audi
9:30-10:45 TR

First Year Students Only

This course will explore major works of philosophy and, through discussing them in depth, will introduce some of the major problems of philosophy and some important methods for understanding them.  Students will be asked to write short essays on some of the readings or on philosophical problems related to them.  These problems include the objectivity of and demands of ethics, the nature of knowledge and justification, the varieties of goodness, the types of evidence for the existence of God, and more.  A special aim of the course is to help participants both to write well and to acquire skill in discussing issues effectively in a setting conducive to wide-ranging inquiry and to development of distinctive views of their own.

Texts will very likely include works by Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Mill, together with some selected work by more recent authors. Most of the works in question have had an enormous influence and are still considered valuable resources for dealing with their main topics.  Readings will be discussed in detail, often with close attention to important passages.  Critical interpretive reading is encouraged, and the appraisal of major positions on knowledge and reality, good and evil, theism and atheism, freedom and compulsion, and the nature of human persons will be central concerns.

The course is designed as a seminar, which means we’re each responsible to all the others in a way that goes beyond the usual format.  There will be time for short presentations by the members, and one hope is that all will come away better both as critical readers and in presenting their own views to an audience.


Honors Philosophy Seminar
13195 07 (19969)
Weithman
9:30-10:45 TR

First Year Students Only

Questions about the nature and demands of justice, the grounds of our obligation to obey the law, and what liberties citizens have against the state are among the oldest questions in philosophy.  At a time of deep political divisions, they are also questions of great contemporary importance.  This course is intended to introduce students to philosophy through the study of what some of history's greatest philosophers have said about these questions.  It is also intended to help you articulate philosophical concerns of your own and, most importantly, to learn how to address them.  Readings will include -- though probably not limited to -- selections from Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, Thomas Hobbes's Levianthan, John Locke's Second Treatise on Government, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty The class is open only to students in the Glynn Family Honors Program and satisfies the University's first requirement in philosophy.


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