Fall 2014

Undergraduate courses

3  The Nature of Mind. Campbell. MWF 2-3, 2 LeConte.

In this introductory course we will be looking at the relation of psychological states, such as desires or memories, to the physical world. There are five sections in the course: Foundations (Dualism, Behaviorism and Central-State Materialism), Functionalism, Consciousness, Intentionality, and Personal Identity. What is the mind? Are mental states, such as beliefs and desires, memories and hopes, characteristics of a non-physical substance, or are they configurations of the physical world? And if we think that mental states are entirely physical, should we think of them as relating to the ways in which a person tends to behave, or are they rather states of the person’s brain? Can a mental state be explained by its potential for causal relations with other mental states and with behavior? What is the relation between conscious experience and the brain? Is consciousness something over and above the ordinary biological functioning of the brain, or can it somehow be explained in biological terms? How can we explain our ability to think about the world? What is a person? These questions will be explored in the course of beginning to understand the nature of the mind.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Yalcin. MWF 12-1, 2060 Valley.

An introduction to the concepts and principles of deductive logic. Students will learn how to formalize basic patterns of argument and how to evaluate them for correctness systematically. The course covers the the syntax and semantics of propositional and first-order logic. Time permitting, we will touch upon some metalogical results. Throughout we emphasize philosophical applications of logical tools and distinctions.

18  Confucius for Today. Shun. MWF 3-4, 106 Stanley.

The teachings of Confucius (6th to 5th century B.C.) have had a profound influence on Chinese and East Asian cultures, and have attracted significant interest throughout the world. In what ways are they still of relevance to life in the twenty-first century? The course will consider the contemporary implications of Confucius’ teachings for such topics as: family, rituals, life and death, fate, contentment and anxiety, anger and resentment, courage, respectfulness, modesty and humility, trustworthiness, learning, self-cultivation, semblances of virtue. In addition to reading selected passages from the Analects, we will also consider commentaries by later Confucians and read contemporary philosophical articles on the relevant topics.

Required Readings D.C. Lau (trans.) Confucius: The Analects (The Chinese University Press) Other selected journal articles.

Assignments Short essays, a short test early in the term, and a final exam.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Corcilius. MWF 1-2, 10 Evans.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It provides an overview of the classical currents of ancient Greek philosophical thinking from the pre-Socratic beginnings to the hellenistic period. The bulk of the course will be spent on the analysis of the philosophical motives, methods and views of Socrates (469 – 399 BC), Plato (427-347 BC), and Aristotle (384-322 BC). Since the ancient Greeks identified many of the philosophical problems (and models for their resolution) we are still concerned with today, the course may also serve as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally.

39  Freshman & Sophomore Seminar: Reading The Brothers Karamazov. Dreyfus. F 2-4, 106 Wheeler.

When Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov first appeared, in 1879, its first readers experience the novel as a call to personal, social, and political renewal. One reader wrote: “After the Karamazovs (and while reading it), I looked around in horror that everything went on as before, that the world did not shift on its axis…” Dostoevsky himself thought that the main question of the novel was the need for God and immortality, but many read the novel in a secular mode, asking: What is evil? Why do the innocent suffer? Where are the limits of each person’s moral responsibility for the problems of the world? Is love before logic? The novel deals with some of our deepest anxieties: the feeling of aggression against one’s own family, rebellion against established authority, and experience of sexual desire. Today, it speaks to our experience of isolation and appeals to forces that draw human beings joyfully together. The novel does not provide answers through logical argumentation: it is a complex literary form.

This team-taught seminar (cross listed in the departments of Philosophy and Slavic Languages and Literatures) will discuss the novel from the double perspective of literature and philosophy. Feel free to register either in Philosophy 39 or Slavic Languages and Literatures 39O.

There are no prerequisites. Students should be prepared for intense reading and class discussions.

Hubert L. Dreyfus is Professor Emeritus and Professor of Graduate School in the Department of Philosophy. His major interests are phenomenology, existentialism, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of literature, the philosophical implications of artificial intelligence.

Irina Paperno is Professor and Chair in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. She works as a literary scholar and intellectual historian, focusing on literature and experience.

Reading: Fedor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, trans. Constance Garnett (Dover Giant Thrift Edition). Work load: approximately 50 pages of reading a week.

98BC-1  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. STAFF. M 5-6, 247 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

98BC-2  Berkeley Connect for Freshmen & Sophomores. STAFF. M 6-7, 106 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

100  Philosophical Methods. Lee. M 2-4, 182 Dwinelle.

The readings and discussion for Phil 100 in Fall 2014 will center around different philosophical views and ideas about “the self”, and the closely related notion of “person”. Is there a “self” at the center of everyone’s conscious life, and if so what is it? What distinguishes one person from another person? What is it for a person to keep existing from one moment to the next? What is death? And why is death bad? What is the moral significance of distinctions between individual people and their lives? What makes a life valuable? Finally, how is the distinction between one person and another of importance in deciding what makes for a just political system?

104  Ethical Theories. Wallace. MWF 11-12, 126 Barrows.

This course offers a survey of some of the main systematic approaches to issues in moral philosophy. We will look at several exemplary texts from the modern history of the subject (by Hobbes, Hume, Sidgwick, and Kant), as well as influential work by important contemporary philosophers (including Foot, Korsgaard, Scanlon, and Williams). Issues to be discussed include the following: What is it that distinguishes morality from other sets of requirements (e.g. those of etiquette or law or self-interest)? Why should we care about complying with moral demands? What is the relation between the right and the good (both the good of the agent, and the impersonal good)? Is there anything interesting that we can say, in general terms, about what makes actions morally right or wrong?

122  Theory of Knowledge. Stroud. TuTh 11-12:30, 200 Wheeler.

An upper-division course in the philosophical theory of knowledge. Not a general survey of the field, but an investigation of three fundamental epistemological questions about perceptual knowledge.

-How does what we have perceived give us knowledge of or reasonable belief in something we are not perceiving to be so at the moment?

-How does what we perceive at a particular time give us knowledge of or reasonable belief in something that is so at that very time?

-How does what each of us perceives give us knowledge of or reasonable belief in the thoughts, feelings, or attitudes of other people?

There are apparently indisputable ways of thinking of human knowledge and perception in philosophy that raise serious challenges to satisfyingly positive answers to these questions. The course will concentrate on the distinctively philosophical character of the epistemological problems and on how, if at all, perception, thought, belief, and knowledge must be understood to overcome the apparent obstacles to our self-understanding.

Two lecture-discussion classes and one mandatory discussion section each week. Students will be expected to write three five-page papers during the semester (one on each of the three topics) as well writing assigned in connection with discussion sections. Lectures and discussions will presuppose close reading of the material contained in a Philosophy 122 reader (available at the beginning of the semester) as well as supplementary reading suggested at different points during the semester.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Searle. TuTh 9:30-11, 2040 Valley.

The single most important question in philosophy and in intellectual life generally at the present time is this: How, if at all, can we reconcile a certain conception that we have of ourselves as conscious, free, rational, ethical, language using, social and political human beings in a world consisting entirely of mindless, meaningless physical particles? This course is directed to the most essential part of that question, the nature of the human mind. What is consciousness and how can it be caused by brain processes? How does it function causally in our behavior? How do we represent reality to ourselves in our mental processes? What is the nature of perception, memory, knowledge and action? Do we have free will? Does the existence of unconscious mental processes threaten our free will? Can cognitive science extend our understanding of ourselves as human beings? Are our brains really just digital computers? How exactly do our mental processes underlie society and our construction of social institutions, such as money, property, marriage and governments? What is the nature of perception? This course will be concerned with these and other such fundamental questions in the foundations of philosophy, cognitive science and psychology.

136  Philosophy of Perception. Noë. TuTh 2-3:30, 210 Wheeler.

The philosophy of perception is a microcosm of the metaphysics of mind. Its central problems – What is perception? What is the nature of perceptual consciousness? How can one fit an account of perceptual experience into a broader account of the nature of the mind and the world? – are problems at the heart of metaphysics. It is often justifiably said that the theory of perception (and especially vision) is the area of psychology and neuroscience that has made the greatest progress in recent years. Despite this progress, or perhaps because of it, philosophical problems about perception retain a great urgency, both for philosophy and for science.

140B  Intermediate Logic. Mancosu. TuTh 9:30-11, 110 Wheeler.

This course covers some of the most important metalogical results that are of interest to philosophers. It is divided into three parts. The first two parts are mathematical in style whereas the last part is philosophical. In the first part we will cover the basic notions of computability theory and study in detail the Turing machine approach to computability. The second part of the course will give a detailed presentation of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems and related results. Finally, we will look at the philosophical relevance of these logical results to various areas of philosophy.

Prerequisite: 12A (or equivalent) or permission from the instructor.

Course requirements: exercise sets approximately every ten days (counting for 60% of final grade) and a philosophical paper due at the end of the semester (40% of final grade).

155  Medieval Philosophy. Crockett. MWF 12-1, 20 Wheeler.

As taught this semester, this course satisfies the 160-187 (but not the 160-178) requirement for the major.

This course will be a study of some of the major philosophical texts from the Medieval Period with a focus on issues in metaphysics and epistemology. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which the philosophers in this period assimilate Aristotelian and Platonic philosophy into religious thought and how they anticipate certain aspects of modern philosophy. Topics will include the nature of universals, individuation, the nature and existence of God, faith and reason, skepticism, freedom, human nature and human cognition.

161  Aristotle. Corcilius. TuTh 2-3:30, 20 Wheeler.

This course is an intermediate-level introduction to Aristotle. Topics include: logic and knowledge; the philosophy of change; the soul; being and substance; the notions of actuality and potentiality; the argument for a ‘prime mover’; virtue, pleasure, and friendship; the ideal political system.

Required text: A New Aristotle Reader, ed. J. L. Ackrill, 1987.

Recommended text: The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes 2 vol. 1984 (or later).

170  Descartes. Crockett. MWF 3-4, 220 Wheeler.

This course will provide an intensive introduction to Descartes’s views on physics, metaphysics and epistemology. We will begin by examining some of Descartes’s early works on method, physics and physiology. We will then turn to an in-depth study of the Meditations, focusing on both Descartes’s epistemological project and his anti-scholastic metaphysics. We will supplement our study of the Meditations with readings from the Objections and Replies, the Principles, and several important pieces of secondary literature. Some of the issues we will discuss in this section include the method of doubt, the Cartesian circle, Descartes’s mode of presentation in the Meditations, the creation and ontological status of the eternal truths, the status of the human being, the nature of substance, and the real distinction between mind and body. After our study of the Meditations, we will examine Descartes’s physics as presented in the Principles.

176  Hume. Martin. MWF 2-3, 200 Wheeler.

183  Schopenhauer & Nietzsche. Kaiser. TuTh 11-12:30, 20 Wheeler.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism and Nietzsche’s forceful ‘affirmation of life’ seem to be worlds apart from each other. On closer analysis, though, many of Nietzsche’s central theses can be understood properly only against the background of Schopenhauer’s thought.

The course offers a systematic comparison of both philosophers’ interpretations of life and human existence. Particular attention will be paid to the role of art and the function of aesthetic experience in their accounts of life. Other topics to be discussed include the nature of the will and human drives; the relation between the intellectual ego and the bodily self; language and truth; and the diagnosis and evaluation of nihilism.

Readings will include selections from Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation and central texts by Nietzsche from the different phases of his philosophy, including key selections from The Birth of the Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, The Genealogy of Morals and his posthumously published late notes (Will to Power).

189  Recent Topics in European Philosophy: Foucault. Sluga. TuTh 12:30-2, 20 Wheeler.

A systematic and critical examination of Foucault’s thought from “The Order of Things” to his last writings.

190  Proseminar in Political Philosophy and Ethics. Munoz-Dardé. M 9-12, 234 Moses Hall.

This course is devoted to some central questions in political philosophy and ethics: authority, neutrality, rights, equality, pluralism, consequentialism and well-being. It is focused particularly on a close reading of Joseph Raz’s The Morality of Freedom. This is a proseminar – a novel format of class, different from most classes in our department. Instead of a standard lecture format, classes will be focused on the texts that form the basis of the course. The aim is that we should all together get to grips with these texts, making sense of what they claim and how they argue for it, by discussing collaboratively readings as we proceed. Participation is expected in every class. Classes in this format demand preparation in advance: it is essential that you do the set reading and think hard about it before each class. This is an upper-level philosophy course. Students should be philosophy majors and must have taken at least two prior upper-division philosophy courses. NOTE: as taught this semester, Phil190 satisfies the ethics requirement for the philosophy major.

198BC-3  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. STAFF. W 5-6, 247 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

198BC-4  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. STAFF. W 6-7, 106 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

198BC-2  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. STAFF. Tu 6-7, 83 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

198BC-1  Berkeley Connect for Juniors, Seniors, and Junior Transfers. STAFF. Tu 5-6, 83 Dwinelle.

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Philosophy. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Philosophy major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.

Graduate seminars

200  First-Year Graduate Seminar. Martin/Stroud. TBA, TBA.

290-1  Graduate Seminar: Philosophy of Religion: The Nature, Ethics, & Rationality of Faith. Buchak. M 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

This seminar will examine different approaches, both historical and contemporary, to the question of what faith is. Several guiding questions will be important as we examine each approach. Is religious faith the same attitude as mundane faith? What is the relationship between faith and belief, between faith and knowledge, and between faith and doubt? Does having faith require going against the evidence? When is faith rationally required or rationally impermissible? When is faith morally required or morally impermissible? To what extent is faith an attitude that is essential to ordinary human lives, and why?

290-2  Graduate Seminar: Explaining Consciousness. Lee. W 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

We know more than ever about the processes in the brain that give rise to conscious experience. This might lead us to hope that one day we might possess a complete “theory of consciousness”. But do we really know what form such a theory would take, or whether it is possible in principle that we could come to know it? In this seminar, we will look at some of the foundational problems that arise when we try to imagine such a theory.

This will include (time permitting): (1) The problem of psycho-physical correlation: can the crude correlational information we currently possess in principle be refined into completely precise psycho-physical laws? (2) Phenomenal properties and quality spaces : many philosophers believe that experiences have “phenomenal” or “qualitative” properties that make experience hard to explain. What kind of claim is this, and could it be wrong? What exactly is it that makes the presence of such properties hard to understand? We will look at the notion of a “quality space” and assess it’s potential for helping us understand the nature of these special properties. (3) The explanatory gap, and other special explanatory problems. Although the well-known “explanatory gap” problem for consciousness won’t be the main focus of the seminar, we will spend at least some time discussing it. (4) The problem of extrapolation : how, if at all, can we extend our understanding of conscious experience beyond the case of humans to other creatures and physical systems? To what extent are questions about the experience of other creatures substantive questions?

290-3  Graduate Seminar: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. Mancosu/Sluga. Tu 4-6, 234 Moses Hall.

290-4  Graduate Seminar: Recent Contractualism: Foundations and Applications. Munoz-Dardé. W 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

Recent Contractualism: Foundations and Applications. This seminar is on contractualist approaches to moral and political philosophy. We will look at the contractualist tradition in history; Rousseau in particular. And we will address contemporary contractualist theories, in particular John Rawls and TM Scanlon.

290-6  Graduate Seminar: “Does the Mind Have a Causal Structure?”. Campbell. Th 2-4, 234 Moses Hall.

The main theses I will be exploring in this class are:

  • Psychological explanation generally is causal explanation
  • Psychological understanding generally is causal understanding

A running question will be: ‘What is the relation between our ordinary understanding of the mind, and a scientific understanding of humans?’.

There are two types of philosophical objection to this picture, which suggest that psychological explanation and understanding are not merely a matter of causality:

  1. The mind is fundamentally a rational structure, and rational connections are a priori, rather than having to be discovered empirically, as causal connections are.

  2. Psychological understanding is fundamentally a matter of imaginative or empathetic understanding, and this kind of imaginative understanding is to be contrasted with causal explanation.

On these views, psychological explanation and understanding are not merely forms of causal explanation and understanding.

We will in general be looking at how phenomena of central interest in philosophy of mind, such as perception or consciousness, are to be described in terms of causation, and looking at current analyses of what causation as such is, in particular, analyses in terms of potential interventions, and analyses in terms of the idea of a causal process.

Background reading:

295  Dissertation Seminar. Campbell. TBA, TBA.

375  Teaching Seminar. Noë. TBA, TBA.