Philosophy Department

Professors: Giovanna Borradori, Jennifer Church, Mitchell Millerb, Michael Murray, Uma Narayan (Chair), Bryan Van Norden; Associate Professor: Douglas Winblad; Assistant Professors: Barry Lam, Jeffrey SeidmanaAdjunct Professor: Jesse Kalin.

a Absent on leave, first semester
b Absent on leave, second semester

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: 12 units including 101; 102; 125; two units from the following: 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 and Ms. Church

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 101 or 106 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 and 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 and 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 102 or 105; 2 units from Philosophy 220, 222, 224, 226, 228; two appropriate 300-level seminars, including Philosophy 310. Advisers: Ms. Church, Mr. Lam and 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. Miller, Mr. Murray and Ms. Borradori

102b. History of Western Philosophy II (1)

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

105a and b. Problems of Philosophy (1)

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

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

Philosophical 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. Narayan and instructor to be announced.

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

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. Murray

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

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.

Ms. Borradori

220a. Metaphysics (1)

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

222a. Philosophy of Language (1)

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

224a. Philosophy of Mind (1)

An exploration of competing theories of the mind—including theories that equate the mind with the brain, theories that regard the mind as a social construction, and theories that define the mind by reference to its characteristic functions. The strengths and weaknesses of each of these theories will be compared—especially with respect to their understandings of consciousness, self-knowledge, emotion and moral responsibility.

Ms. Church

226b. 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. Winblad

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. Instructor to be announced

240b. 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.

[260a and b. Philosophy and the Arts] (1)

An examination of a specific art form and selected works within it from a philosophical perspective. May be repeated for credit when different art topics are studied.

Not offered 2008/09.

270a. Queer Theory: Choreographies 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

280a. Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophy of Music (1)

A philosophical inquiry into the difference between music and sound, the expression of emotion in music, the erotics of music, the role of repetition and variation, the experience of resolution and dissolution, time and timelessness, the significance of different endings. Ms. Church

290a and b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

The department.

[296a and 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.

Not offered in 2008/09.

298a and 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.

[310a and b. Seminar In Analytic Philosophy] (1)

An examination of some central issues or topics within analytic philosophy

Not offered in 2008/09.

311b. Language and the Infinite Mind: The Source and Extent of Linguistic Structure in Cognition. (1)

(Same as Cognitive Science 311b.) A study of recursion in natural languages, poverty of the stimulus arguments for innate structures, the relationship between language and understanding other minds, and the relationship between language and other areas of cognition.

Prerequisite: special permission of instructor and Cognitive Science 100 and either one Cognitive Science 200-level course or Philosophy 226, Philosophy of Language. Mr. Lam and Jan Andrews.

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

An intensive reading of selected Platonic texts with special attention to the provocative function of dialogue form. Topics explored include friendship and eros; participation, forms, and the Good; the interplay of unity, limit and continuum in the various orders of soul , community, and cosmos. Mr.Miller One three hour period

320b. Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Kant (1)

An in-depth study of Kant’s three great Critiques, covering his distinctive views on the necessary objectivity of the world, the legitimacy and the limits of science, the requirements of morality, the possibility of freedom, and the nature of aesthetic judgements. One 3-hour period. Ms. Church

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. Seminar in Ethics and Theory of Value (1)

[340a. Seminar in Continental Philosophy] (1)

Not offered in 2008/09.

340b. Seminar in Continental Philosophy: Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt (1)

An examination of the philosophical, political and personal relationship between two of the most remarkable thinkers of the twentieth century. We draw on such works as Heidegger’s Being and Time and the Rectoral Address and Arendt’s The Human Condition and Men in Dark Times, as well as later writings, along with correspondence and biographical studies. One 3-hour class. Mr. Murray.

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

(Same as Chinese and Japanese 350) This course explores some of the methodical issues raised by the prospect of one culture understanding and making judgments about another. The effort to understand another culture raises fundamental issues about the nature of rationality, ethics, and truth. Consequently, this course is structured around the three major approaches to these issues in the contemporary world: Modernism, Postmodernism and Hermeneutics. Very roughly, these three approaches argue over whether rationality, truth, and ethics are universal (Modernism), incommensurable (Postmodernism) or historical and dialogical (Hermeneutics). Requirements include regular class participation that shows familiarity with the readings and many brief essays. Mr. Van Norden.

One three hour class.

Not offered in 2008/09.

382a. Seminar in Analytic and Continental Philosophy (1)

An historical and topical study of the relationship between continental and analytical philosophy. One 3-hour class. Ms. Borradori and Mr. Winblad

[383b. Seminar in Philosophy and the Arts] (1)

Not offered in 2008/09.

[396a., b. Philosophic Discussion] (1/2)

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

Not offered in 2008/09.

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

The department.