The Dennes Room

Summer 2022 1st 6wks

Undergraduate courses

02  Individual Morality and Social Justice. Schneider. MTuWTh 12-2, Wheeler 20.

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’.

12A  Introduction to Logic. Schwartz. MTuW 1-3:30, Wheeler 204.

This is a first course in symbolic logic. The main object of study is the notion of a valid argument in a formal language. We will cover propositional logic (intuitively, the logic of ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘if-then’, and ‘not’) and first-order logic (the logic that adds predicates and quantifiers ‘all’ and ‘some’), including their syntax and semantics, proof in those logics, and symbolization of informal arguments into those logics. The course is meant to give students basic comfort with formal reasoning and the ability to use it even outside of formal contexts. No background is presupposed.

25A  Ancient Philosophy. Perry. MTuWTh 12-2, Wheeler 108.

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, and will cover a broad range of figures and philosophical issues. We will take as our central theme the characteristically Greco-Roman view of philosophy as the medicine of the soul. So doing will prompt us to ask questions like: What is the mind, and how is it related to the body? to the natural world? What is it for the mind to be healthy (or sick), and does its health (or sickness) bear on one’s ability to lead a good life? How did the ancient Greeks and Romans conceive of philosophy, and why did they think it was suited to perform a therapeutic function? Canonical philosophical readings will be supplemented with texts on Greco-Roman conceptions of mental health and disease (philosophical, medical, and – time permitting – poetic), as well as texts by Greek doctors (especially the Hippocratic doctors).

25B  Modern Philosophy. Crockett. TuWTh 1-3:30, Wheeler 220.

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.

117AC  Philosophy of Race, Ethnicity and Citizenship. Crockett. TuWTh 3:30-6, Wheeler 204.

This course explores philosophical questions of race, ethnicity, and citizenship, with special attention to the experiences of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and indigenous peoples of the United States. Topics include the meaning of “race,” “ethnicity,” and “citizenship,” border control and immigration, reparations for past wrongs, discrimination and affirmative action, civic obligation and group solidarity, and the right to vote.

132  Philosophy of Mind. Khatchirian. TuWTh 1-3:30, Wheeler 200.

In this course, we will take up central problems concerning the nature of mind and examine contemporary approaches to these problems. We will ask the following questions: Can science explain consciousness? If not, can we still make sense of consciousness as part of the natural world? Can we make sense of thought as part of the natural world? What are we doing when we attribute thoughts to ourselves and to others? Are beliefs and desires real? Are they genuine causes of behavior? What role, if any, does our environment play in fixing the contents of our thoughts? And where is the mind anyway? Is it located where our brain or body is located, or does it extend beyond our body?

160  Plato. de Harven. TuWTh 10:30-12, Wheeler 204.

In this course, we will undertake a close reading of several of Plato’s dialogues, exploring the themes of beauty, love, justice, society, and human happiness. More formally, we will cover metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, moral psychology, and social and political philosophy. Dialogues include Lysis, Symposium, Gorgias, Republic, Meno, and Phaedo. Plato’s ideas were as surprising and controversial to his Athenian contemporaries as they are to so many in this American democracy. For that very reason, Plato’s ideas remain alive and deeply relevant today.