Philosophy Department

Professors: Giovanna Borradori, Jennifer Churcha, Mitchell Miller, Michael E. Murrayb , Uma Narayan (Chair); Associate Professors: Bryan Van Nordenab Douglas Winblad; Assistant Professors: Barry Lam, Jeffrey SeidmanaVisiting Assistant Professor: Bethany Dunn; Adjunct Professor: Jesse Kalin.

Philosophy as a discipline reflects both speculatively and critically on the world, our actions, and our claims to knowledge. The Department of Philosophy offers a variety of courses of study that not only introduce students to the great philosophical achievements of the past and present but also aim to teach them how to think, write, and speak philosophically themselves.

Requirements for Concentration: 101; 102; 125; two of the following five: 220, 222, 224, 226, 228; either 234 or 238; 300-301; and three differently numbered 300-level seminars (not including 396).

Senior-Year Requirement: Philosophy 300-301

Recommendations: Individual programs should be designed, in consultation with a faculty adviser, to give the student a representative acquaintance with major traditions in philosophy, competence in the skills of philosophic investigation and argument, and opportunities for exploration in areas of special interest. Students considering a concentration in philosophy are advised to take Philosophy 101 and 102 early in their careers. German, French, and Greek are languages of particular importance in Western philosophy; Chinese will be of special interest to those taking Philosophy 110, 210, or 350.

Advisers: The department.

Correlate Sequences in Philosophy: The philosophy department offers six different correlate sequences. In each sequence a total of 6 units is required. The required 300-level seminar may be taken twice if the topics differ; students may also petition to count an appropriate Philosophy 280 as equivalent to a 300-level seminar.

Correlate Sequence in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art: Philosophy 101 or 102; Philosophy 240, 260; one of 205, 215 or an appropriate 280; two appropriate 300-level seminars. Advisers: Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.

Correlate Sequence in Comparative Philosophy: Philosophy 110 and one of 101 or 102; Philosophy 210 and 234; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 350. Adviser: Mr. Van Norden.

Correlate Sequence in Ethics and Social and Political Philosophy: 1 unit at the introductory level, either Philosophy 106 or 101 or 110; 3 units at the intermediate level, including Philosophy 234 and one of 238 or 250; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 330. Advisers: Ms. Narayan, Mr. Seidman.

Correlate Sequence in Continental Philosophy: Philosophy 101 or 102; 205, 215, and one of Philosophy 240 or 260; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 340. Advisers: Ms. Borradori, Mr. Murray.

Correlate Sequence in the History of Western Philosophy: Philosophy 101 and 102; Philosophy 205 and 215; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 320. Adviser: Mr. Miller.

Correlate Sequence in Analytic Philosophy: Philosophy 125 and either 105 or 102; 2 units from Philosophy 220, 222, 224, 226, 228; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 310. Advisers: Ms. Church, Mr. Lam, Mr. Winblad.

Correlate sequences may also be designed for certain other subfields in philosophy—for instance, philosophy and gender, philosophy of science, classical philosophy.

I. Introductory

No prerequisites; open to all classes. Any of these courses is suitable as a first course in philosophy.

101a. History of Western Philosophy I (1)

Philosophy from its origins in Greece to the Middle Ages. Mr. Borradori, Mr. Miller, Mr. Murray.

102b. History of Western Philosophy II (1)

Modern philosophy from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance through Kant. Ms. Borradori, Mr. Seidman.

105a and b. Problems of Philosophy (1)

An examination of various philosophical problems, such as the nature of reality, the limits of human knowledge, the relation between mind and body, and the basis of moral values. Ms. Church, Mr. Lam.

106a and b. Philosophy and Contemporary Issues (1)

Philosophic investigation of a range of positions on current issues such as abortion, pornography, affirmative action, gay rights, distributive justice, animal rights, and freedom of speech. Ms. Dunn, Ms. Narayan.

[110a. Early Chinese Philosophy] (1)

An introduction to Chinese philosophy in the period between (roughly) 500 and 221 b.c., covering Confucians, Taoists and others. Among the topics discussed by these philosophers are human nature, methods of ethical education and self-cultivation, virtues and vices, and the role of conventions and institutions in human life. Mr. Van Norden.

Not offered in 2007/08.

125a and b. Symbolic Logic (1)

A study of the concepts and methods of formal logic. Topics include truth functional and quantificational validity, soundness, and completeness. Mr. Winblad.

II. Intermediate

Prerequisite for all 200-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy or permission of instructor.

205b. Nineteenth Century Philosophy (1)

The philosophies of such figures as Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche, and of movements such as post-Kantian idealism, utilitarianism, and positivism. Mr. Miller.

[210b. Neo- Confucianism and Chinese Buddhism] (1)

Introduction to Neo-Confucianism, one of the most influential intellectual movements in China and all of East Asia. Some discussion of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. No familiarity with Chinese culture is assumed, but a previous 100-level course in philosophy is a prerequisite because this course assumes you have the ability to tackle subtle issues in metaphysics, personal identity, and ethics. Mr. Van Norden.

Not offered in 2007/08.

215a. Phenomenology and Existential Thought (1)

The major themes in existential and phenomenological thought as developed by such figures as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Mr. Murray.

220a. Metaphysics (1)

A study of the nature of reality, including the nature of existence, essence, identity, and persistence of things. Mr. Winblad.

222b. Philosophy of Language (1)

An examination of truth, meaning, reference, intentions, conventions, speech acts, metaphors, and the relation between language and thought. Mr. Winblad.

224b. Philosophy of Mind (1)

An exploration of what sort of thing the mind is, what is special about first-person knowledge, what constitutes consciousness, and why consciousness matters. Ms. Church.

226a. Philosophy of Science (1)

(Same as Science, Technology and Society 226) A study of the principles of scientific reasoning. Topics include explanation, justification, scientific rationality, realism versus instrumentalism, and laws. Mr. Lam.

228b. Epistemology (1)

A study of knowledge, belief, and justification, and of whether and how we can have knowledge or justified beliefs about the world. Mr. Lam.

234b. Ethics (1)

An investigation of reasons to be moral, the relation between morality and self-interest, the nature of happiness and its relation to a meaningful life. Readings include seminal texts in the Western tradition and writing by contemporary moral philosophers. Mr. Seidman.

238a. Social and Political Philosophy (1)

An examination of issues in modern social and political philosophy, including freedom, equality, individual rights and responsibilities, with special attention to the social contract tradition and its critics. Ms. Dunn.

240a. Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics (1)

Classical and modern theories of the nature of art, the experience of art, the creative process, and critical argument. Ms. Borradori.

250b. Feminist Theory (1)

Examination of the theoretical sources and commitments of different feminist perspectives (including liberal, socialist, radical, psychoanalytic, and postmodern) and their bearing on such topics as the body, mothering, sexuality, racism, relations among First- and Third-World women. Ms. Narayan.

Prerequisite: 1 unit of philosophy or Women’s Studies 130.

260b. Philosophy and the Arts: Architecture (1)

Architects and architectural historians rely on a number of philosophical distinctions pertinent to architecture: space and spatiality, ground and context, form and style, body and world. In turn, philosophers have made systematic use of architectural metaphors such as edifice, foundations, construction, and deconstruction. In this course, we 40 explore the nature of the relationship between architecture and philosophy through the analysis of the philosophical statements articulated by twentieth century architecture. Ms. Borradori.

[270b. Queer Theory: Choreographics of Sex and Gender] (1)

This course examines contemporary theoretical work on the meaning of gender and sexuality with special reference to gay and lesbian studies. We consider questions such as the identity and multiplication of gender and sexes, forms of erotic desire, the performativity of gender norms, styles of life, marriage, and their relationship to medical, psychiatric, legal and criminological discourses. Mr. Murray.

Not offered in 2007/08.

[280a or b. Special Topics in Philosophy] (1)

Special topics in philosophy, e.g. philosophy and psychoanalysis, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of music, etc.

Not offered in 2007/08.

290a or b. Field Work ( 1/2 or 1)

The department.

296a or b. Translation of Philosophical Texts ( 1/2 or 1)

Translation of a chosen philosophical text under the supervision of a member of the department. The department.

Prerequisite: two years or equivalent in the language.

298a or b. Independent Work ( 1/2 or 1)

The department.

III. Advanced

Prerequisite for all 300-level courses unless otherwise specified: 1 unit of philosophy at the 200-level or permission of the instructor.

300a-301b. Senior Thesis ( 1/2)

The development of an extended philosophical essay in consultation with a faculty adviser.

302 Senior Thesis (1)

By special permission only.

This one semester course may be substituted for 300a-301b only by special permission.

310b. Seminar In Analytic Philosophy: Rationality and Justification (1)

A study of recent work on the rationality of belief. Topics include a priori and a posteriori justification, the rationality of degrees of belief, and the differences between empirical and philosophical knowledge. Mr. Lam.

One 3-hour period.

320a. Seminar in the History of Western Philosophy: Wittgenstein (1)

A study of the early and later philosophies of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Special attention is paid to recent attempts to defend Wittgenstein against the most influential criticisms of his views. Mr. Winblad.

One 3-hour period.

330a. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value: Capitalism, Globalization, Economic Justice and Human Rights (1)

This seminar focuses on questions about capitalism, globalization, and economic justice. We address debates on private property and the division of labor, and examine the functions of states, markets, corporations, international institutions like the IMF and WTO, and development agencies in economic globalization and their roles in securing or undermining human rights. Texts include Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Antonio Negri, Peter Singer and Thomas Pogge. Ms. Narayan.

One 3-hour period.

330b. Contesting Sovereign Power: Hobbes and His Twentieth Century Critics (1)

The purpose of this class is to interrogate the contemporary political status of sovereign power in depth, taking Hobbes as the paradigm thinker of sovereign power. We address questions regarding the nature, status, and significance of sovereign power in contemporary political philosophy. Correlatively, we examine how various twentieth century critiques of Hobbesian sovereign power open up new ways for conceiving of power that address the complexities of our current socio-political situation. How can these novel approaches to power move beyond the view that power is centralized in the state (sovereign body)? How does this new conception of power inform/affect identity politics? How can these twentieth century conceptions of power open up new ways to conceive of the subject and the nature of inclusion/exclusion within (political, social, legal) communities? Ms Dunn.

One 3-hour period.

340a. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Art and Poetry in Continental Thought (1)

This seminar examines the exceptional importance that Continental thinkers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries have assigned to art and poetry, involving both an overcoming of the aesthetic, Interpretation of art and a critique of Western philosophy. We consider Nietzsche and Wagner, Heidegger and Holderlin, Foucault and Velasquez and Magritte, and Derrida’s studies of painting and Joyce. Mr. Murray.

One 3-hour period.

340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Derrida and His Umbrella (1)

An examination of the work of Jacques Derrida. From the late 1960s to his death in 2004, Derrida worked at the philosophical project of deconstruction, a critical strategy to reveal the hidden contradictions of a number of philosophical concepts, theories, and social and academic institutions. We shall trace the philosophical pre-history of deconstruction in Freud, Heidegger, and Saussure, and discuss its impact on urgent political issues such as the death penalty, immigration policy, and terrorism. Ms. Borradori.

One 3-hour period.

[350a. Seminar in Chinese Philosophy: Comparative Methodology] (1)

(Same as Chinese and Japanese 350) Mr. Van Norden.

Not offered in 2007/08.

380b. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Plays of Logos (1)

(Same as College Course 380 and Classics 380) Close readings of texts in Greek poetry, drama, and philosophy, with a special interest in whether exploring the differences between a classicist’s and a philosopher’s responses can open up meaning that precedes the very differentiation of these perspectives. Readings may include, among others, Homer and Hesiod, Sappho, Heraclitus and Parmenides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, and Plato. Ms. Kitzinger and Mr. Miller.

383b. Seminar in Philosophy and the Arts: Opera (1)

Opera combines music, words, and images to create a “total art work.” We examine these three elements individually and in combination, exploring different philosophical understandings of how they can create meaning and how they should interact in opera (or, indeed, in life). Topics of discussion include the central operatic themes of love, desire, and death; the contrast between operas, musicals, and film; the role of class and gender in the enjoyment of opera; and current controversies surrounding opera production. Operas studied will include Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde,Berg’s Lulu, and John Adams’s Nixon in China. A field trip to New York for a performance at the Met or City Opera is planned. Readings include texts by Kierkegaard, Wagner, and Adorno, as well as contemporary discussions by Roger Scruton, Susan McClarey, Robert Solomon, Bernard Williams, and Michael Tanner. Non-philosophy majors are welcome. Ms. Church and Mr. Kalin

One 3-hour period, plus one evening screening each week.

[396b. Philosophic Discussion] ( 1/2)

Discussion of selected essays on a variety of philosophical issues. Mr. Winblad.

Not offered in 2007/08.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work. ( 1/2 or 1)

The department.