PHI (Philosophy)

PHI 101 What is Philosophy?  (4 hours)

This course introduces students to philosophy through some of the major works in philosophy’s history. Socrates’ dictum “… an unexamined life is not worth living” will be taken as the motto. Philosophy, in other words, is not just a way of thinking, but a way of life that requires examination of ideas and the world in which we live with clarity and courage. Offered every fall.

PHI 102 Ethical Theory (4 hours)

In this course, students will read several contemporary works concerning the nature of the ethical. Works will be drawn from both the analytic and the Continental traditions and an effort will be made to put the two traditions into dialogues with each other. Offered biennially in the spring.

PHI 200 Independent Study in Philosophy  (1-4 hours)

This course will be conducted as supervised research on a selected topic. Prerequisites: Submission of an application which contains a proposed, detailed outline of study approved by the instructor, the division chair, the student’s advisor and the provost or associate provost. The completed application must be submitted to the office of enrollment services no later than the final day of the drop/add period of the semester of study. For additional criteria, see Independent Study Policy (Sec. 6.15.).

PHI 201 Formal Logic  (4 hours)

This course is a survey of formal techniques used in evaluating and analyzing arguments. Syntax, semantics and proof systems of both propositional logic (the truth-functions) and predicate calculus will be covered. Offered biennially in the spring.

PHI 204 Plato  (4 hours)

This course is a study of the philosophy of Plato through a reading of his major dialogues. In addition to the “Socratic” dialogues, readings will include the Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, Republic and Timaeus. Offered biennially in the fall.

PHI 205 Aristotle  (4 hours)

This course is a study of the philosophy of Aristotle through a reading of his major works. Readings will include portions of the Logic, Physics, DeAnima, Metaphysics and Nicomachean Ethics. Offered biennially in the fall.

PHI 206 Modern Philosophy  (4 hours)

The early modern period (early 1600s to mid-1700s) is one of the most fertile in philosophy’s history and the period when many of philosophy’s central themes and methods come to be most clearly articulated. The goal in this course will be to acquire a basic understanding of the thought of the continental Rationalist (of particular note will be their views on the nature, sources, and extent of knowledge and their views on metaphysics [the study of reality in its broadest and most general terms]). Their views are interesting in themselves but also essential to the study of more recent philosophy and helpful in gaining a sense of the intellectual life of early modern Europe. Offered biennially in the spring.

PHI 207 Aesthetics (4 hours)

What makes something a work of art and not a pile of bricks? Presumably the same thing that makes something a work of art and not a collection of particles of non-organic matter suspended in linseed oil and pressed against a prepared oak panel. But what is that thing? Put more broadly: is there a real distinction between what counts as a work of art and what doesn’t? Over the course of the semester various philosophical attempts to come to terms with these sorts of questions will be examined. Offered biennially in the fall.

PHI 208 Philosophy of Science (4 hours)

Philosophical analyses of central scientific concepts – prediction, explanation, evidence, and laws will be explored in this class. There will be a special emphasis on the distinction between science and pseudoscience and the relation between theory and observation. Offered biennially in the spring.

PHI 211 What’s Love Got to do with It? An Examination of Historical and Contemporary Philosophical Accounts of Friendship, Love and Sex (4 hours)

This course will serve to introduce students to the history of philosophy and to introduce students to questions about friendship, love, and sex that have occupied the majority of thinkers that make up the Western philosophical canon. The aim of the course is twofold: (1) to articulate each philosopher’s account of the nature of friendship, love, and sex and (2) to use this acquired knowledge to enhance one’s own thinking about friendship, love, and sex. Students will develop their aptitude for philosophical analysis and will deepen their understanding of the nature of these social relations as they appear not just in philosophical contexts but also in a broad range of other disciplines.

PHI 290  Special Topics in Philosophy  (4 hours)

Courses of selected topics will be offered periodically as determined by the needs of the curriculum. Prerequisite: See individual course listing in the current semester course schedule.

PHI 302 Epistemology  (4 hours)

This course will cover various issues concerned with the nature and validity of human knowledge. The topics studied will include the distinction between knowledge and belief, arguments for and against skepticism, perception and our knowledge of the physical world and the nature of truth. Offered triennially in the fall. Prerequisites: 8 semester hours in philosophy courses with a grade of “C-“or higher.

PHI 303 Space, Time and God  (4 hours)

This course examines our conception of the universe as a totality, both in its own nature and in relation to an external cause. We will consider whether space and time are “absolute” realities or only systems of relations among objects, whether they are finite or infinite and whether or not there logically could exist space-time universes in addition to our own. The course will conclude with the question of whether our space-time universe is self-sufficient or requires an ultimate cause or explanation (God) outside of itself.

PHI 304 Philosophy of Mind  (4 hours)

This course involves the study of philosophical questions about the nature of human persons. Students will examine 1) the mind-body problem – the nature of the mind and consciousness and the relation of consciousness to physical processes within the body; 2) personal identity – what makes a person one mind or subject both at a single moment and over time; 3) free will – the status of a person as a free agent and the relation of this freedom to the causally determined processes in the person’s body.

PHI 305 Nietzsche  (4 hours)

In this course students will study the philosophy of Nietzsche through a reading of his major works, including The Birth of Tragedy, The Uses and Abuses of History for Life, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ. Students will also study some contemporary and influential readings of Nietzsche.

PHI 306 Metaphysics  (4 hours)

Metaphysics is that branch of philosophy that conducts the most general inquiry possible into the nature of reality. It asks questions like: What is the nature of space and time? What is substance? What is the distinction between substances and those characteristics – properties – shared by multiple substances? What is the nature of possibility and necessity? Offered biennially in the fall. Prerequisites: 8 semester hours in philosophy courses with a grade of “C-” or higher.

PHI 307 Existentialism  (4 hours)

Existentialism has a gloomy reputation, and that reputation is wholly undeserved. Far from being a moody, angst-ridden meditation on the futility of human existence, existentialism is focused on everyday experience and on the extent to which philosophical reflection always and already takes place in the context of a world. It seeks to illustrate the task, as Merleau-Ponty has it, “not of explaining the world or of discovering its conditions of possibility, but of formulating an experience off the world.”  It’s on this notion of a formulation of experience that this course will concentrate, focusing mainly on Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. Offered biennially in the fall. Prerequisites: two courses in philosophy or permission of the instructor.

PHI 323  Internship in Philosophy  (1-4 hours)

An internship is designed to provide a formalized experiential learning opportunity to qualified students. The internship generally requires the student to: obtain a faculty supervisor in the relevant field of study; submit an application which addresses both the on-site and the academic components of the internship; and satisfy all internship requirements developed by the academic program which oversees the internship. The career development office maintains an extensive list of internships, all of which are graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisites: These are determined by the academic program overseeing the internship course, but typically include: permission of the faculty supervisor; meeting the qualifications for the internship program; obtaining permission of an internship site supervisor; and development of an internship plan which is acceptable to relevant parties including the faculty supervisor and others, as required by the relevant academic program.

PHI 400 Advanced Independent Study in Philosophy  (1-4 hours)

Supervised research on a selected topic. Prerequisite: Submission of a proposed outline of study that includes a schedule of meetings and assignments approved by the instructor, the division chair and the provost or associate provost. The completed application must be submitted to the office of enrollment services no later than the final day of the drop/add period of the semester of study. For additional criteria, see Independent Study Policy (Sec. 6.15.).

PHI 401 The Philosophical Response to the Scientific Revolution  (4 hours)

This course is a study of the philosophical systems of Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. Each of these philosophies is an attempt to come to terms with the scientific picture of the world which had been given to the West by Copernicus and Galileo. The course begins with the materialist philosophy of Hobbes, followed by Descartes’ dualistic (between mind and matter) view of the created world and then considers Spinoza’s pantheistic monism and Leibniz’s idealistic atomism as responses to the difficulties in the Cartesian philosophy.

PHI 403 Heidegger’s Being and Time  (4 hours)

This course involves a close and patient reading of one of the most important and difficult works of Continental philosophy. An effort will be made to avoid speaking “heideggerianese” and to translate the dense language of the text into a way of speaking accessible to students. Prerequisites: PHI 205 or PHI 206, plus any other additional Philosophy course.

PHI 404 20th Century Continental Philosophy  (4 hours)

Continent philosophy is a somewhat contentious notion for two reasons. First, there are some who doubt whether it is philosophy at all. Secondly, there are those who wonder whether it is actually a helpful description. What this course intends to do is look at French philosophy with a German accent, takings as its guiding thread Derrida’s celebrated claim that philosophy today is a continual dialogue with Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger. Offered biennially in the spring. Prerequisites: 12 semester hours in philosophy courses with a grade of “C-” or higher.

PHI 405 20th Century Analytic Philosophy  (4 hours)

Analytic philosophy has come to dominate philosophy in English-speaking countries. It is difficult to characterize easily because it is not really dominated by any one overarching issue or methodology, but instead by an overlapping set of issues and methodologies. It is characterized, too, by a respect for the natural sciences and the methodology of modern linguistics. This course will focus on the logical positivist movement that grew out of classic British empiricism and the simultaneous development of Frege and Russel’s views. Then the Quinean rejection of logical positivism will be traced and Quine’s extreme naturalism, concluding with Kripke and a return to a classic style of philosophy. Offered biennially in the spring. Prerequisites: 12 semester hours in philosophy courses with a grade of “C-” or higher.

PHI 406 Philosophy of Language  (4 hours)

Philosophy of language is traditionally an inquiry into the most general features of structured communication. This course will deal with questions such as the nature of meaning (how is it that words come to mean things?), the nature of linguistic content (what do words express?), and the analysis of conversation (including metaphor, non-literal meaning, presupposition, and conversational implicature). Prerequisites: PHI 206 and any other Philosophy course.

PHI 490 Advanced Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophers  (4 hours)

Intensive study of the thought of a single important philosopher or group of philosophers will be covered in this course. Prerequisite: See individual course listing in the current semester course schedule.

PHI 491 Advanced Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophical Issues and Problems  (4 hours)

Studies of selected philosophical questions usually of special relevance to the present day have included courses such as Philosophy of History, War and Its Justification and Philosophical Issues in Women’s Rights; and What Counts As Art? (that included a trip to New York City). Prerequisites: See individual course listing in the current semester course schedule.