Fall 2012 (Undergraduate)

PHI 1000-003-Knowledge, Reality, Self

MWF 8:30-9:20

How do we know what we know, about ourselves and about our relationships with others? In this course, we will explore philosophical responses to the questions of how we can know, what is real, and what is the nature of the human person with specific regard to the problem of memory and the nature of friendship. The readings will explore the history of philosophy with a focus on these issues.

Instructor:  Patricia Grosse

PHI 1000-004-Knowledge, Reality, Self

MWF 8:30-9:20

In this course, we will read philosophical texts from the time of ancient Greece up to the present, in order to think about the question: “What is science?” The course will be organized into three segments, ancient and medieval views on nature, early modern science, and nineteen through twentieth century criticisms of modern science. We will explore questions about what it has meant to practice science throughout history, what kind of knowledge science can give us about reality and about ourselves, how science is related to religion and society, and whether science is really as rational as we tend to assume. This course is thematic, but it is not technical or scientific. We will read a variety of literary works on the topic of science as well as more traditional philosophical essays.

Instructor:  Robert Lieb

PHI 1000-005/008 Knowledge, Reality, Self

MWF 9:30-10:20, 10:30-11:20

In this course we read selected ancient to modern texts in order to engage with some fundamental human questions: how can we know, how is knowledge possible, what is the nature of the real, and what does it mean to be a human being? During the first part of the course, we focus on classical, Christian, and early modern approaches to these questions through a study of Plato, Augustine, and Descartes. In asking these questions, we will be forced to think about further questions:  what is philosophy’s proper subject, why study philosophy, and what lies beyond the limits of philosophical reasoning? In the second part of the course, we take a thematic approach to these questions. In our reading of Kant, Hegel, and others we examine the relationship between faith and reason. Does God exist and why is there evil in the world? What does it means for us today to live what Socrates calls the ‘examined life’?

Instructor:  Maria Cuervo

PHI 1000-006/009-Knowledge, Reality, Self

MWF 9:30-10:20, 10:30-11:20

This course will introduce us to major texts in the history of philosophy and familiarize us with some of its most important questions. One third of the course will be spent on ancient and medieval philosophy, with attention to questions regarding the nature of knowledge, reality and self. We will continue to trace these questions through modern and contemporary philosophy, concluding with major critics of the Western philosophical tradition.

Instructor:  Summer Renault-Steele

PHI 1000-010-Knowledge, Reality, Self

MWF 9:30-10:20

Philosophy is a conversation that has been going on, in its Western version, since the time of the Greek philosophers. It is a conversation whose themes are radical: what is real; what is knowledge, its kinds, its limitations?; who are we, what’s it all about? The conversation continues as each generation takes up these questions in terms of its own life experience. While the answers are not definitive, the questions are compelling and persist. This course will look at, through selected philosophers, the course of the conversation and some of its major themes, as well as invite you to enter it through class participation, reading and writing.

Instructor:  Thomas Busch

PHI 1000-017-Knowlege, Reality, Self

MW 3:30-4:45

This course is an exploration of philosophical responses to the questions of how we can know, what is real, and what is the nature of the human person.  Readings from: Plato, St. Augustine, Boethius, Descartes, Locke, and Marx, as well as readings on feminism and Buddhism.  This section is only open to entering first year students.  The students for the course will be assigned by the registrar in summer 2012.  

Instructor:  John Immerwahr

PHI 1000-021-Knowledge, Reality, Self

TR 8:30-9:45

An exploration of philosophical responses to the questions of how we can know, what is real, and what is the nature of the human person.  Readings explore the dialogue on these questions between Catholic/Christian responses and secular and skepitcal perspectives.

Instructor:  Michael Vendsel

PHI 1000-022/026- Knowledge, Reality, Self

Days:  TR 10:00-11:15, 11:30-12:45

Our foundational question is “What are the ‘producers of culture’ producing, and what are the “receivers of culture” receiving?”  We shall examine ways in which Western culture has ‘produced’ individual persons; ways in which individual persons have transformed ‘received’ culture; and ways in which our own global consciousness has enlarged meanings of culture itself. 

Assignments include individual and group summaries, reviews, critiques, reports and research projects.  All writing assignments will be collected in portfolios, and will be evaluated in accordance with a “Culture of Evidence” appropriate to the culture of expectations that develops within the course

All principles of academic integrity will be observed in accord with the student handbook, which governs course expectations regarding intellectual honesty.

Instructor:  Edwin Goff

PHI 1000-025-Knowledge, Reality, Self

Days:  TR 10:00-11:15

An exploration of philosophical responses to the questions of how we can know, what is real, and what is the nature of the human person.  Readings explore the dialogue on these questions between Catholic/Christian responses and secular and skepitcal perspectives.

Instructor:  Michael Vendsel

PHI 2010-001/002-Logic & Critical Thinking

MWF 9:30-10:20, 10:30-11:20

This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of logic in both its traditional and modern forms. The goal will be to develop technical proficiency in formal logic through the study of categorical and propositional logic.

Instructor:  John Brien Karas

PHI 2115-001/002-Ethics for Healthcare Professionals

TR 2:30-3:45, 4:00-5:15

This course will expose us to contemporary philosophical and ethical problems arising in medicine and health care. Though some attention will be paid to “traditional” ethical problems such as abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide; the primary focus of the course throughout will be on ethical problems encountered in the clinical or research setting such as those arising in the context of organ donation, surrogate decision-making, research on human subjects, reproductive technologies, end-of-life issues, futility, managing moral distress, conscience protections for health care workers, cooperation in evil and others. In addition to understanding each issue fundamentally, a unified “picture” of the ethical delivery of health care will emerge. It is within this picture that you will see yourself as part of a society that must take responsibility for its goals and uses of power concerning issues of life and death. Non-clinicians are certainly welcome to take the course as a fundamental philosophical understanding of ethics is a sub-goal; but the course has, primarily, a professional focus.  

Instructor:  Stephen Napier

PHI 2160-001/002-The Ethics of War

Days:  MWF 10:30-11:20, 11:30-12:20

This course will look at some of the normative and practical issues of war.  We will address ethical issues facing citizens, soldiers, states, and the international community.  Although just war theory will receive some primacy, other theoretical approaches to war will also be considered including realism and pacifism.  The course will look at ethical issues in war, terrorism and responses to terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, military intervention, and security.  Students will be challenged to connect theoretical discussions to current events and encouraged to read both national and international news sources.

Instructor:  Sally Scholz

PHI 2300-001/002-Philosophy of Law

Days:  TR  11:30-12:45, 1:00-2:15

We will consider legal reasoning and discuss both how laws are created and how law is developed.  In this setting we will also analyze the influence of the facts of the case at hand, prior judicial and legislative holdings, social background facts, and the moral values of the society on legislators and judges who attempt to fashion and create law that is relevant for the times. This analysis of legal reasoning will include statutory law, common law, and Constitutional law. We will also consider specific issues in the law, such as crime and punishment, the death penalty, equal protection, racism, sexual orientation, affirmative action, and contemporary developments in family law. As all good philosophers must do, we will reflect on the assumptions and operating principles of the law, and finally we will compare and contrast various legal theories and critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Instructor:  Rev. James McCartney, O.S.A.

PHI 2800-001-Philosophy of History

Days:  TR 2:30-3:45

This seminar examines the historical development and transformation of the relationship between philosophy and history.  We begin by analyzing philosophy in the era prior to the massive historicization of philosophic practice around the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries.  We then concentrate on the fundamental changes that occurred in philosophic practice through the course of this transformation.  These changes were linked to a novel conception of historical time as a linear process of development in which the past becomes autonomous and the future is transformed into an open horizon of possibility.  It is within this new regime of historicity that the 19th-century utopian philosophical, aesthetic and political projects developed, and it is to these that we will turn our attention in the next section of the course.  We will then concentrate on how these projects have played themselves out in the historical conjuncture that is our own, by examining and evaluating various categories used to frame our current era (the “end of history,” the “exhaustion of utopian energies,” the “end of illusions,” the “age of crisis,” etc.).  

Students should come away from the class with an understanding of some of the central debates in historiography, the major “logics of history” that have been used to understand the past, and a set of conceptual tools for situating our present situation within the broader frame of history.  In addition to being a philosophy class that introduces the thought of some of the major figures in the Western tradition (Descartes, Vico, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Arendt, Cassirer, Foucault, Castoriadis), this course also draws on the work of historians (Koselleck, Ziolkowski), sociologists (Wallerstein) and political scientists (Fukuyama) in order to provide students with an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective on the historical transformations of the world that we are living in.

Instructor:  Gabriel Rockhill

PHI 3020-001-History of Ancient Philosophy

TR 1:00-2:15

This is a course that will focus on the origins of Western thinking.  We will study Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides and Democritus as examples of early Greek thinking.  We will then turn to Plato and a study of two of his major works, The Republic, still considered one of the great classics of literature and political philosophy in the West and The Symposium, his famous dialogue on love.  Finally we will study parts of Aristotle’s Physics, Metaphysics and Ethics, works that still today are formative for our culture. 

We will study the concepts and vocabulary that were developed among the early Greeks as a way of understanding reality, and consider the extent to which these intellectual frameworks are viable approaches to understand nature and the place of human beings in the world.  Plato’s Republic is an especially important source book.  Many of his ideas about human community have been formative throughout the ages, and we will approach a study of this text not only for the sake of knowing his ideas, but also from our contemporary perspective on the issues he raises. Aristotle is considered the “father” of metaphysics, a field of study often directly associated with philosophy.  Through Aristotle, we will receive a formative introduction to the basic concepts and vocabulary of Western philosophy.  Our overall objectives will be to 1) Acquire an in depth knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy. 2) Learn the concepts and vocabulary and fundamental frameworks that guided ancient Greek thinking and formed the basis for the tradition of the West.  3) Consider the extent to which these fundamental principles and grounding concepts are still formative in the way we think about human beings and about reality today.

 Instructor:  Walter Brogan

PHI 3030-001-History of Medievel Philosophy

 TR 11:30-12:45

This course surveys medieval Christian, Islamic, and Jewish philosophy.  These three traditions represent the encounter of monotheism and revelation with the corpus of Greek and Roman philosophy and science.  The thinkers we will study were committed to the Hebrew Scriptures, Greek Scriptures, and the Qu’ran, respectively, and to philosophy as exemplified by Plato, Aristotle, and their successors.  We will pay special attention to relationship of philosophical speculation and revealed teachings by studying three major themes: the interpretation of texts, the nature of the human soul and its perfection, and arguments for the existence of God.  We will look at each text in its own context, in its connections with other texts on our syllabus, and in comparative perspective.

Required Texts:

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), On Christian Doctrine

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1108), Proslogion & debate with Gaunilo (Hackett)

Avicenna [Ibn Sina] (980-1037), selections from The Salvation, “Metaphysics”

Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), selections from The Incoherence of the Philosophers

Averroes [Ibn Rushd] (1126-1198), The Decisive Treatise Concerning Religion and Philosophy + selections from The Incoherence of the Incoherence

Maimonides [Moshe ben Maimon] (1138-1204), Ethical Writings of Maimonides (Dover) + selections from The Guide of the Perplexed

Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), Summa Theologiae, Questions on God, ed. Davies and Leftow (Cambridge UP 2006)

 Instructor:  Julie Klein

PHI 3720-001-Marx & Marxism

TR 4:00-5:15

In this course we will examine the genesis and evolution of Marxist thought and itsappropriations in the 20th century. We will explore the ways critical Marxists have challenged the more authoritarian versions of Marxism and consider theappropriations of Marxian thought for economic, social, and political criticism. We will pay special attention to how the critique of political economy has gone hand in hand with the critique of gendered forms of exploitation and domination. Key thematics that we will investigate includecommodity fetishism, labor and alienation, ideology, revolution, hegemony, and culture. We will also consider what Marx’s ideas can mean for us today. What are the legacies of Marxism? In what ways might Karl Marx’s and Marxists’ questions and critique of society have new value, especially as the financeeconomy has come into crisis, while persisting gender inequalities alongside other social forms of domination remain often unchallenged?

We will study works by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Vladimir Lenin,Louis Althusser, Antonio Gramsci, Noam Chomsky, David Harvey, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Eval Illouz, and Lidia Cirillo.

Instructor:  Annika Thiem

PHI 4150-001-Philosophy of Film

Days: TR 4:00-5:15

This course will explore the relationship between film and philosophy.  We will begin by examining the philosophic debates about the historic emergence of film and its links to various conceptions of the nature of human thought.  This will lead us to the question of the relationship between film and the unconscious as well as to the problem of the connections between the appearance of film (c. 1895) and the development of psychoanalysis (c. 1900).  Against the backdrop of this first major section of the course, we will then examine the links between film and temporality since the “seventh art” is often considered to by the art of time par excellence.  In particular, we will concentrate on the nature of time, memory, and history as well as on the temporal models used to think the history of film.  In the final section of the course, we will situate film in a larger context in order to inquire into the relationship between film and the other arts, film and politics, and film and the new media of the televisual and digital age.  Through the course of our investigation, we will have the opportunity to discuss the role of technology in the arts, competing descriptions of human thought, theories of memory, psychoanalysis and its description of the human psyche, modes of representation and revelation proper to film, rival conceptions of temporality, competing historiographical paradigms, narrative structure within and outside of film, theories of ideology, the politics of film, the emergence of new digital technology, and many other topics proper to the study of philosophy and film.  

In addition to being presented with some of the major philosophic issues in film and media studies, students are expected to come away from the course with a solid grasp of some of the major movements in film history (including the first “films,” early avant-garde cinema, Surrealism, classic Hollywood cinema, Italian Neo-Realism, the French New Wave, New German Cinema, the Hong Kong “School,” and contemporary independent film).  They will also be made familiar with some of the most important film and media theorists of the 20th and early 21st centuries (Bazin, Bellour, Bordwell, Musser, Thompson).  Finally, they will be exposed to the ideas of important philosophers whose work can be related, directly or indirectly, to issues in film (Benjamin, Bergson, Deleuze, Freud, Kracauer, Plato, Sartre).

Instructor:  Gabriel Rockhill

PHI 4200-001-Philosophy of Language

TR 2:30-3:45

The goal of this course is to survey some central debates in the philosophy of language.  It is organized around three main themes: (1) the relationship between language and reality, (2) the relationship between language and thought, and (3) the relationship between language and people.  During the first part, we shall discuss some classical theories of meaning, truth, and reference that have had a profound influence not only on the development of analytic philosophy but the systematic study of language in general over the last 100 years.  In the second part, we turn to the psychological basis of linguistic understanding, compare different theories of how language is learned, and explore different conceptions of the relationship between language and thought.  Finally, we shift our focus to the role which language plays in communicative exchanges, particularly as it has been explored in the theory of speech acts, and reflect on the role of language in the construction of social reality.

 Instructor:  Georg Theiner

PHI 5000-002-The Debate about Religious Toleration in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

TR 4:00-5:15

It is putting a very high value on one’s conjectures, to have a man roasted alive because of them.

-Michel de Montaigne

 Religious toleration is a cornerstone of Western democracy.  But how did it come about?  This course will focus on the philosophical ideas of religious toleration and freedom of conscience in Europe from roughly 1500-1800.  In 1500, religious toleration had very few supporters, and religious coercion was largely acceptable. By 1800 or so, toleration and freedom of conscience were conceptualized as basic rights.  After a brief consideration of some well-known medieval authors (e.g. Augustine—who initially favored toleration but reversed himself, Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua), we will read selections from some less well-known but critically important authors.  Some of our authors were in positions of power and influence; some were persecuted for their views; others were controversial but essentially undisturbed.  Some were Roman Catholics; some skeptics, agnostics, heretics or atheists (it can be hard to tell); some Jewish; some Protestants of different denominations.  The texts we’ll read also vary in form; the list includes treatises, scholastic questions, dialogues, compilations of important arguments, personal essays, Bible commentaries, and a play.

 Readings will be drawn from Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa’s On the Peace of Faith (1453), written in response to the fall of Constantinople to Mehmed II in 1453; Sebastian Castellio’s Concerning Heretics, whether they are to be persecuted, and how they are to be treated, a collection of the opinions of learned men, both ancient and modern (1554), written and published pseudonymously after the civil authorities in Geneva, with the support of Catholics and Protestants alike, burned Michael Servetus at the stake in 1553; Michel de Montaigne’s Essays (1580); Jean Bodin’s Colloquium of the Seven about the Secrets of the Sublime (written ca. 1593 but circulated in clandestine networks and published only posthumously in 1683), in which the Seven represent different religious and philosophical views; Roger Williams’ The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, Discussed in a Conference between Truth and Peace (1644), which reflects the author’s expulsion from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 and decision to found Rhode Island on principles of toleration; Benedict Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise (1670), published anonymously, banned, and burned—and a best-seller in its time; the skeptic Pierre Bayle’s critique of religious coercion, A Philosophical Commentary on These Words of the Gospel, Luke 14.23, ‘Compel Them to Come In, That My House May Be Full’ (1686); John Locke’s “A Letter Concerning Toleration” (1689). We will conclude the semester with G.E. Lessing’s 1779 play Nathan the Wise.  Originally banned by church authorities, it was first performed in 1783 in Berlin.

Key themes for the course include:

·       Whether and how adherents of different religions can engage in dialogue or whether “controversy” is inevitable

·       What philosophers might contribute to any such dialogue

·       Whether any religion can claim superiority or unique status

·       Whether religious coercion is acceptable

·       The nature of freedom of conscience and belief

·       Whether it is necessary to be religious (in one way or another) in order to be good

·       The connections between religious and political authorities

·       The implications of religious and/or philosophical differences for politics

·       The connection between ideas and literary or philosophical genres

·       The interpretive challenges posed by clandestine and controversial texts

 This will be a seminar focused on participants’ close reading of the assigned texts.  I will lecture to provide background, but discussion will be our main way of proceeding.  At the first meeting, we’ll set up a schedule for class members to write short papers (2-3 pp) to be shared with the class; each individual student will write several such short papers over the semester.  Each member of the class will also write a final paper (12-15 pp).  The short papers will be posted on our webpage in advance of class meetings.  Everyone will be expected to read the papers and submit written questions before class.  We’ll use Blackboard and/or a class blog to support our discussions.  Class participation grades will be determined on the basis of serious responses to the papers, thoughtful questions, and participation in the seminar conversations.

Instructor:  Julie Klein

PHI 5000-003-Critical Race Theory

TR  4:00-5:15

Our project is to create conceptual, systematic unity from cross-disciplinary sources within and beyond academic institutions; to engage the archeology (i.e. critical histories) of races among humanity in a critique of practical reason; and to exercise the ‘feeling of judgment’ in the interest of removing race, racial, and racist inequities in the practice of justice, in the maturation of culture, and thereby see more deeply how the flourishing of human dignity becomes optimal in each of our life-worlds.

Our foundational question is “Where do systemic fault-lines in social constructions of reality create differential life-worlds, and how do value-centered interventions reverse experientially diminished expectations for human flourishing?”  We shall examine critiques of race, racializing, and racist fissures in the historical bedrock of Western philosophical discourse, and review the multiple con-texts within which discursive praxis of reasonableness has produced “inventories of effects.”

 Assignments include individual and group summaries, reviews, critiques, reports and research projects.  All writing assignments will be collected in portfolios, and will be evaluated in accordance with a “Culture of Evidence” appropriate to the culture of expectations that develops within the course.

 All principles of academic integrity will be observed in accord with the student handbook, which governs course expectations regarding intellectual honesty.

Instructor:  Edwin Goff