Spring 2021 Courses
A one-hour seminar each semester tied to the talks given in the department's ongoing colloquium series. Required of all first-year graduate students.
Aristotle: De Anima
The main business of the course will be to work through Aristotle’s De Anima in its entirety. We will also read some mostly recent secondary literature.
Anselm - ONLINE CLASS
Cross-listed with PHIL 43135, THEO 40211, MI 43326, and MI 63326
This seminar will examine the major philosophical and theological writings of St. Anselm. His Monologion, Proslogion, and Cur Deus Homo will be of central concern, but several lesser-known Anselmian texts will also be read. Topics discussed in these writings include arguments for the existence of God, the divine nature, the Trinity, the Incarnation, human and angelic freedom (and their compatibility with divine foreknowledge), and truth.
Texts: The main text for the course will be Anselm: Basic Writings, a Hackett paperback; Thomas Williams is the editor and translator. Several chapters from Anselm, by Sandra Visser and Thomas Williams, will also be assigned. A few additional contemporary discussions of Anselm may also be read.
Requirements: The course will consist of loosely-structured lectures, with student participation expected and encouraged. Students will be required to write three short (five-to-six page) papers (one of which will be discussed in class) and a final exam. The opportunity to make class presentations may also be offered.
Sourcing the Self: Departing from Rousseau's Second Discourse
Cross-listed with POLS 60689 and ENG 90689
This course, grounded in the history of political thought, takes its departure from Rousseau’s Second Discourse; but it does not stay only with Rousseau. We will begin with a close reading of the Second Discourse over the course of two seminars. Following this, we will spend the remaining seminars carefully studying the texts Rousseau was using, appropriating, and remaking in the construction of his own essay. We will decide on the texts to choose together as a class—for this reason, students and specialists in and of all time periods, and across all disciplines, are encouraged to enroll. Some possible candidates for readings include (but are not limited to): Herodotus, Plato, Lucretius, The Bible, Augustine, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Fénelon, Condillac, Montaigne, Montesquieu, Pope, Diderot, Abbé Prévost, Buffon. Depending on the number enrolled, we will devote the remainder of our seminars to reading our chosen ‘source’ texts, with each member of the class taking a guiding role for the thinker/text of their choosing. This will also form, I hope, a major article-length research paper for each at the conclusion of the course. The last class will be a return to our primary document—the Second Discourse—in which we will discuss whether, after turning to all of these books that “teach us only to see men as they have made themselves,” we now see Rousseau’s ‘man’ in a different light.
Medieval Theories of Universals
Time and Day - TBD
This class will examine theories of universals in the middle ages, focusing on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but where relevant considering the background to such theories in late antiquity and earlier Islamic philosophy.
Cross-listed with PHIL 43202
This seminar will survey contemporary work in phenomenology. The first third of the semester will be devoted to an examination of Edmund Husserl’s classical account. The second part will briefly examine challenges and internal developments to this account, for example, by Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. Finally, depending on areas of students’ interest, we will examine the contemporary status and applications of phenomenology, for example, in ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, or cognitive science.
Graduates: Seminar Presentation, Final Paper.
Between Being and Non-Being: Then and Now (Advanced Topics in Metaphysics)
Newlands and McDaniel
This seminar explores a class of putative entities that some philosophers have treated as quasi-beings, somehow residing in an unusual ontological domain between being and non-being. Characteristic examples from metaphysics and philosophy of mind include merely intentional objects, beings of reason, possibilia, and fictional characters. We will look at historical and contemporary discussions of these issues. Historical readings may include Suarez, Descartes, Baumgarten, Leibniz, Brentano, Meinong, Mally, and Husserl. Contemporary authors may include Tim Crane, Amie Thomasson, Bob Adams, Graham Priest, and Kris McDaniel.
Advanced Topics in Ethics
This course is an advanced introduction to meta-ethics, aiming to give students enough background knowledge about the field to conduct research in it. The course will cover three main topics. First, we’ll look at moral realism, focusing on naturalist realism, the recent resurgence of non-naturalist realism, and debunking arguments against moral realism. Next, we’ll turn to non-cognitivism, tracing its development from simple emotivism to the more sophisticated forms of expressivism and quasi-realism that are popular today. Finally, we’ll consider constructivism, which presents itself as a third way between the traditional opposition of realism and anti-realism.
Phenomenology & Theory of Science
Cross-listed with HPS 60174
This seminar examines Edmund Husserl's phenomenological theory of science, with regular reference to subsequent phenomenological theories of science (especially Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty). Topics include the role played by pre-scientific experience in the constitution of the objects of the sciences; abstraction and idealization in science and the formulation of scientific laws; hierarchical relations between different sciences; and the relation between science and the history of science. The seminar also provides a general introduction to phenomenology, which can serve as a foundation for further engagement with post-Husserlian phenomenology (Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Ricoeur, etc.). Similarities and differences between Husserlian theories of science, Kantian/neo-Kantian (including Sellarsian) theories of science, and Foucaultian theories of science will also be discussed.
Frege, Carnap and Quine - ONLINE CLASS
The thread that runs from Frege to Carnap and then to Quine sets an important part of the agenda of contemporary analytic philosophy. This seminar will involve a close reading of selected parts of the Frege/Carnap/Quine corpus. The goal is to get a clear understanding of the core views of these three authors regarding language, ontology, epistemology, mathematics, and logic during the century covered by their work, roughly 1880-1980.
Requirements will be: several short papers, one presentation, and one seminar paper.
Dissertation Research Seminar - ONLINE CLASS
98690 01 (13859)
This seminar is for those graduate students actively working on their dissertations. The focus of the seminar is discussion of work in progress by participants.