Summer 2015 Session D

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality & Social Justice. Pickering. MTuWTh 10-12, 182 Dwinelle.

In this course we will raise a few of the central questions of moral and political philosophy. How should I live my life? What do I owe to others? What rules should we accept for living together? And, most fundamentally, should we think there are right and wrong answers to these questions? We will also explore canonical answers given to these questions. Historical authors discussed in this course may include Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Bentham, and Nietzsche, while more recent authors may include Bernard Williams, Judith Jarvis Thomson, John Rawls, and Robert Nozick.

3  The Nature of Mind. Sethi. MTuWTh 12-2, 3111 Etcheverry.

This class is an introduction to the fundamental issues in the study of mind. Appeals to mental states are ubiquitous in our every day life: “I really wanted to see the new Woody Allen movie, but I was quite disappointed.” “If you believe that equality is important, you should come to the protest on Saturday.” “Can you give me an Aspirin, I have a splitting headache.” “I just experienced the most beautiful sunset.” Fundamental to our understanding of others and ourselves is the fact that we’re conscious beings with minds and that our conscious mental states explain our behaviors and are essential to our identities. But what is consciousness and what does it mean to have a mind? What are mental states such as beliefs and desires and perceptions? How does the mind fit into the ordinary physical universe that is composed entirely of soul-less atoms? Is there room for consciousness within a scientific worldview? Do our mental states ever genuinely cause our behavior or are they mere shadows of our purely mechanistic brains?

In this class, we will learn about different views of consciousness, including Dualism, Behaviorism, Identity Theory and Functionalism. Along the way, we will consider powerful objections that have been posed to each of these views, always with an eye to understanding what the central challenge is to making room for consciousness in the natural order of things.

This is an introductory class in philosophy and so we will also learn the basic tools of philosophical thinking and writing. No prerequisites.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Nowak. TuWTh 10-12:30, 130 Wheeler.

This is an elementary course on symbolic logic. We will cover a range of topics including symbolization, truth tables, the syntax and semantics of basic formal languages, and the construction of proofs. The course is a requirement for philosophy majors, but will be useful to anyone interested in the principles which underlie sound reasoning.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Gibson. MTuWTh 10-12, 209 Dwinelle.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It provides an overview of the classical currents of ancient Greek philosophical thinking from its pre-Socratic beginnings through the works of Aristotle. The course will be divided in to four sections: We will read, discuss, and write about the views of [1] an important group of pre-Socratic thinkers, [2] Socrates (469 – 399 BC), [3] Plato (427-347 BC), and [4] Aristotle (384-322 BC) on a wide variety of topics including: the nature of the universe, how to investigate reality, the nature of knowledge, the structure of the soul, the nature of virtue, and what is required to lead a good life. Since these issues are foundational for the Western philosophical tradition, the course may also serve as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally. This course is required for the philosophy major, but has no prerequisites, and no prior philosophical experience will be presupposed.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. TuWTh 1-3:30, 209 Dwinelle.

In this course we will study the philosophical views of the most important and influential thinkers in early modern philosophy (roughly, the 17th and 18th centuries). This period in western thought was nothing short of extraordinary in that it saw the overthrow of a philosophical and scientific worldview that had dominated the west for over one thousand years. Prior to the 17th century, philosophy had been a blend of church doctrine and classical philosophy, and its methodology had been quite narrowly defined. The unfortunate effect of both the church’s influence on scholarly endeavors and the strictly defined methodology was that philosophical and scientific creativity was largely stifled. By the 17th century, however, the medieval worldview was beginning to crumble due in large part to a variety of subversive scientific discoveries. Advances in physics, astronomy and chemistry undermined central assumptions of classical science, which resulted in the wholesale abandonment of medieval philosophy more generally. Thus the scientific revolution of the 17th century set off an explosion of inspiration and creativity in the world of philosophy. It forced thinkers to make a new start in answering fundamental questions about the world such as: What is the nature of mind? What are the limits of human knowledge? What is a person? What is the basic stuff in the world?

These thinkers were the radicals of their day, and their views have shaped the way we practice contemporary philosophy. In fact, many of the philosophical questions we ask today could not have been formulated before these thinkers began to challenge philosophical orthodoxy. For that reason, studying the moderns is of central importance for understanding contemporary philosophy, and for understanding the nature of philosophical revolutions more generally.

110  Aesthetics. Noë. TuWTh 10-12:30, 242 Hearst Gym.

This course will explore topics in the philosophy of art. What is art? What makes art valuable? Is art really valuable? What is a picture? Why are some pictures works of art, but not others? What is performance? What makes performance art? What does art reveal about human nature? What does art tell us about the mind? We will seek to answer these and other questions. We will read writings on these and related topics by a range of philosophers (mostly from the 20th century).

Many of the readings for this course will come from an anthology entitled Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology, published by Blackwells and edited by Cahn et al.

115  Political Philosophy. Grosser. TuWTh 10-12:30, 105 Latimer.

This introductory class will examine the works of four classical protagonists of Western political thought: Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. In focusing on early modern political philosophy and, in particular, on social contract theory, it is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of paradigmatic politico-philosophical approaches: An understanding of the underlying metaphysical and ontological, historical and anthropological assumptions that essentially inform these approaches; of the relevance and specific meaning of concepts such as freedom, equality, and justice, citizenship, community, and power; and, most importantly, of differing argumentative strategies of justifying the existence as well as the authority of the state philosophically. Thus, based on a careful reading of their writings, it is to be considered how Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant attempt to find a balance that resolves the inescapable tension between the autonomy of the individual and the authority of the state. Additionally, the course aims at identifying the concepts of the political that, implicitly or explicitly, organize the theories discussed.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Noë. TuWTh 1-3:30, 110 Wheeler.

This is a course on the nature of mind. The central question we ask: Can we give make sense of mind as a natural phenomenon? We will read widely in philosophy and cognitive science as we seek to answer this fundamental question. Among the topics we will cover: the nature of perception and consciousness, the possibility of machine minds, neuroscience as the basic science of human experience, our knowledge of each other.