Course Descriptions

Spring 2021

Dr. Eric Severson
MWF 9:20-10:45

Around the world, and across history, human beings have drawn meaning and purpose from ideas. Some of these ideas have deepened and enriched human communities; others have led to devastating sexism, racism, colonialism, and other forms of oppression. This course will draw from global wisdom traditions to introduce students to the discipline of philosophy. Our journey will include classical and contemporary works from western thinkers, but also nonwestern philosophy from Indigenous communities, as well as the wisdom of ancient India and China. 

PHIL 2600: INTRODUCTION TO LOGIC                            
Dr. Matthew Rellihan
MWF 12:30-1:55

In this elementary introduction to informal and symbolic logic, students will develop their skills for evaluating and constructing arguments. Topics covered include propositional logic (truth-tables and natural deduction), predicate logic, argument analysis, inductive and causal reasoning, and informal fallacies. If you are considering law school, this class is excellent preparation for the LSAT.           

PHIL 3030: MODERN PHILOSOPHY                                                              
Dr. Wai-Shun Hung
TTH 1:30-3:35

This course traces the development of European philosophy from the 16th to the 18th century. We will study the works of René Descartes (1596-1650), Margaret Cavendish (1623-1673), John Locke (1632-1704), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), Mary Astell (1666-1731), and David Hume (1711-1776), and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), among others. Topics to be covered include (1) the conception of the self as subject of consciousness; (2) knowledge as representation; (3) the person as moral and political category; (4) equality between men and women in the state and within the family; and (5) European philosophy’s encounter with other cultures.   

Dr. Paul Kidder
MWF 10:55-12:20 

This course begins with the question as to the meaning of the term, “art,” but then goes on to examine how philosophical meaning can be explored through art, primarily with the help of 20th-century Continental thinkers.  Throughout history the visual arts have communicated the most profound experiences in human life, and yet to voice these meanings in the verbal medium of philosophy requires complex processes of interpretation. Four themes will organize the class:

1.         The meaning of art, particularly in light of modern and contemporary movements. We will use Arthur Danto’s philosophical reflections on Andy Warhol and other 20th-century figures.

2.         The interpretation of art, using the existential and hermeneutical theories of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer.

3.         Spirituality in modern painting and sculpture, using Roger Lipsey’s groundbreaking study of artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky, Rothko, and Brancusi.

4.         Art in cultural identity and cultural appropriation. We will consider the role of artforms in defining cultures in the interrelations of cultures.

Readings are expected to include:

Arthur Danto, What Art Is, Yale Univ. Press
Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper Perennial
Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays, Cambridge Univ. Press
Roger Lipsey, The Spiritual in Twentieth-Century Art, Dover Publications

Dr. Matthew Rellihan
MW 3:40-5:45 

Moral psychology lies at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of mind. It investigates the psychological presuppositions of moral philosophy in order to shed light on some of its perennial questions. We will consider the following topics: Free Will—Are we capable of free choice? Are we determined? What does it mean to be free? Psychological Egoism—Are humans naturally selfish? Are we capable of true altruism? Are we capable of morality? Virtue and Character—What does it mean to be virtuous? What role do the emotions play in virtue? What are emotions and how do they relate to other mental states like belief and desire?  Motivation and Agency—Why do we act the way we do? What does it mean to act rationally? Can moral action be rationally motivated, or is it purely arational? Moral Luck—Are we responsible only for what is in our control, or can we be blamed for things outside of our control? That is, do we believe in moral luck?Prejudice, Bias, and Stereotypes—What is prejudice? Does it involve explicit beliefs, or is something more subtle at work? How do we correct our prejudices? Is this even possible? X: PSYC 4910 

Dr. Marylou Sena
TTh 10:15-12:20 

If Heidegger and Lampert are right, Nietzsche’s philosophy has the genealogical task of understanding why the highest values of Platonic metaphysics (of nonsensuous luminous being, ideas) historically become devaluated. This course investigates Nietzsche’s genealogical critique of the basic presupposition and values of Platonic metaphysics. It also examines the legitimacy of what Nietzsche establishes as a “second origin” to a “new history of metaphysics” where “luminous being” (Schein) isn’t set apart from the nature of sensuousness. On the one hand, we have then Nietzsche’s genealogical account of Platonic metaphysics from which modern Platonism (and its atheistic view of the world) historically evolves. On the other hand, we have his new metaphysics, based in a new conception of the psyche that gives rise to a view of the world where “luminous being” is definitive of sensuousness. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche makes an astonishing claim regarding his new understanding of sensuousness and its sustaining ground. He claims that the luminous and rhythmic energies of the Dionysian govern the true world, the world as it is. In this course, we will take up Nietzsche’s phenomenological approach to his new understanding of sensuousness within this context where “luminous being” (Schein) is “set back into” the sensuous. We will study Nietzsche’s genealogical task and its foundational claims through a close reading of his three texts, The Birth of TragedyThus Spoke Zarathustra, and Twilight of the Idols.