The Dennes Room

Summer 2021 2nd 6wks

Undergraduate courses

2  Individual Morality and Social Justice. Schneider. MTuWTh 10-12, TBA.

This class is intended as an introduction to philosophical questions centering around the individual and society. The six week course is divided into two main sections corresponding to the two different foci that the course title affords, namely, ethical questions that arise from an individual life, on the one hand, and ethical questions that arise from living in a society, on the other. Focusing on the individual we will consider existential problems and questions about the role of religion, of family, and of love. Focusing on society, we will discuss questions about social injustice and its effects on the individual. In particular, we will focus on social injustice as it relates to someone’s class, to someone’s sex and gender, and to someone’s race. We will look at texts from a variety of writes including Confucius, Aristotle, Karl Marx, George Eliot, W. E. B. du Bois, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Virginia Woolf, and Audre Lorde. In addition, as a gateway into these texts we will watch a film each week on that week’s topic. Among the films we will watch are Hirokazu Kore-eda’s ‘Shoplifters,’ Wong Kar-wai’s ‘Happy Together,’ Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Parasite,’ and Kelly Reichhardt’s ‘Certain Women’.

4  Knowledge and Its Limits. Dandelet. MTuWTh 12-2, TBA.

Ordinarily, I take myself to know many things. Right now, for instance, I will tell you that I know that climate change is real, and that my car is where I parked it last night. But do I really know these things, given that, after all, I could be mistaken about them? And why does the answer to this question matter? That is, why should I care about having knowledge, as opposed to merely having true beliefs? For that matter, why are true beliefs worth having? Assuming that knowledge and true beliefs are valuable, how should you go about trying to get them? For instance, how should you decide who to believe? And should you change your beliefs when you find out that a peer disagrees with you?

These are some of the questions that we will take up in this course. As we investigate these questions, we will hone our skills of reading, writing, and discussing philosophy.

6  Man, God, and Society in Western Literature. Perry. MTuWTh 2-4, TBA.

This course explores the relationship between humanity and the divine through classics of the Western literary canon – i.e. drawn from the Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We’ll read a variety of texts both sacred and secular, philosophic and poetical, ancient and modern, including selections from Augustine of Hippo, Judah Halevi, al-Ghazali, Ibn Tufail, Maimonides, Julian of Norwich, John Donne, John Milton, William Blake, Søren Kierkegaard, Richard Wagner, and Simone Weil. Questions to be discussed include: in virtue of what does an experience count as religious? what is conversion, and how does it differ from other fundamental shifts in one’s beliefs (if at all)? whence sin and suffering, what problem do they present for the relationship between man and God? what does it mean to be alienated from God, and how might reconciliation be brought about? what does it mean to live in a secular society, and what are the implications for religious life today?

12A  Introduction to Logic. Paris. MTuW 1-3:30, TBA.

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. Arsenault. MTuWTh 10-12, TBA.

In this course, we will survey the beginnings of philosophy in the Western tradition with special attention to Socrates (469-399), Plato (427-347), Aristotle (384-322). In particular, we will discuss their approaches to scientific knowledge, the structure of the world, and the good human life. Since the ancient Greeks identified many of the philosophical problems (and models for their resolution) we are still concerned with today, the course also serves as an introduction to philosophical thinking generally.

25B  Modern Philosophy. Marsh. TuWTh 1-3:30, TBA.

In this course we will survey philosophy written during the Early Modern period of the 17th and 18th centuries. Specifically, we will study the emergence of the New Science and its break with Scholastic Aristotelianism, the school of thought that had dominated philosophy throughout the late Medieval period. We will learn how the proponents of this New Science offered novel approaches, and answers, to the hotly debated philosophical questions of their day, including metaphysical questions such as: what are the fundamental building blocks, or substances, that comprise our reality? What are the causal relations between these substances, bodies, minds, and God? And epistemological questions, such as: what sorts of metaphysical truths can we know, and how is it possible for us to know them? And, to what extent, if any, can we trust our senses, or beliefs formed on the basis of experience? We will start by reading, in roughly chronological order, Galileo and the so-called rationalist works of Descartes, Elisabeth, Amo, Spinoza, and Leibniz, before tackling the empiricist works of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume. Finally, we will end the course with a comprehensive introduction to Kant, who, responding to these philosophers, critiqued the very possibility of metaphysics, while nevertheless aiming to salvage some of its principles, as well as empirical knowledge, from an array of skeptical worries introduced by his predecessors.

104  Ethical Theories. French. TuWTh 1-3:30, TBA.

What makes an action right or wrong? What makes someone a good person? What is the relationship between morality and values like love, friendship, and personal excellence? Why should we care about doing what morality commands? This course will examine these questions through an exploration of major theoretical traditions in Western moral philosophy. We will discuss both classic and contemporary texts; thinkers we will likely read include Aristotle, Hobbes, Hume, Mill, Kant, Nietzsche, Bernard Williams, Christine Korsgaard, Philippa Foot, and T.M. Scanlon.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Andrews. TuWTh 10-12:30, TBA.

This is an advanced undergraduate introduction to the philosophy of mind in the western/analytic tradition. We will cover some main debates in the field including the mind-body problem, consciousness, self-knowledge, intentionality, sensation and perception. The course will also give students some familiarity with related empirical issues, though no prior experience in the cognitive sciences is presupposed.

188  Phenomenology. Grosser. TuWTh 3:30-6:00, TBA.

This course will give an overview of major works and developments in phenomenology. To this end, we will analyze key concepts such as ‘experience,’ ‘horizon,’ or ‘lifeworld’ and trace controversies within the phenomenological tradition — for instance, controversies over the methodology that is best suited to allow phenomenological inquiry to come ‘back to the things themselves’ as they show up when we encounter them. Based on readings of seminal texts by Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Arendt, and Levinas, we will address central themes of phenomenology such as intentionality and perception, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, embodiment and intercorporeality, affect and emotion, spatiality and temporality. Against this background we will examine how phenomenological insights have been brought to bear in contemporary debates in aesthetics, in ethics, and in social and political philosophy — particularly in anti-racist and feminist thought. Finally, we will look into ways in which phenomenology has been applied outside of philosophy and influenced fields such as cognitive science, psychology, or literary studies.