Spring 2012 Graduate Philosophy Courses
Dr. Michael W. Tkacz
The period commonly designated "medieval" in the history of Western philosophy is both long (over a millennium) and quite rich in the production of philosophical literature. It represents a period of transmission of the works of ancient Greek thinkers, linking our own modern period with the origins of our intellectual heritage. At the same time, it was also a period of profound originality of thought when the tools of the intellect were applied to the problems of religion, human society, and the study of nature.
Another significant aspect of the Middle Ages is that it is the period during which the philosophical heritage of the ancient Greeks spread from Greek-speaking lands to many non-Greek peoples. Thus arose the four great traditions of medieval Western thought: the Latin, the Greek, the Arabic, and the Jewish. This course is a historical survey of the major philosophical movements of western philosophy from the seventh through fourteenth centuries. Beginning with a consideration of philosophical work in the monastic and cathedral schools of the Latin West, the course will also cover developments in the Islamic schools at Baghdad and Cordorva. Also covered will be selected contributions of medieval Jewish philosophers as well as Greek philosophy in the Eastern Roman Empire. The recovery of Greek science in the Latin West will be studied along with the rise of scholastic philosophy in the medieval universities. Finally, the inception of medieval nominalism and the critical developments of the fourteenth century in both the Greek East and the Latin West will be studied.
Texts: Authur Hyman & James Walsh, ed., Philosophy in the Middle Ages (Hackett Publishing, rpt. 1991).
Selected Texts of Medieval Greek and Latin Philosophy, tr. Michael W. Tkacz (available on-line).
PHIL 516: Marxism
Dr. Tom Jeannot
Whatever final assessment we come to of AMarxism,@ Karl Marx is among the greatest thinkers of the nineteenth century. In this course, we will grapple with Marx=s thought in a sustained way, especially its philosophical dimension. We will also consider Marx=s influence on the subsequent movements that laid claim to his name, the history and variety of interpretations of his thought, and the implications, if any, of Marx=s thought for our time. Our texts will include the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, the first volume of Capital, and R. Dunaywvekaya=s Marxism and Freedom.
PHIL 520: Contemporary Philosophy
Dr. Thomas Jeannot
This course is a survey of major figures representing several contemporary approaches to philosophical investigations, including: the phenomenological movement, existentialism, and hermeneutics; analytic philosophy; American philosophy; feminist philosophy; African-American philosophy; and postmodernism. Requirements will include brief reflective essays and midterm and final take-home essay exams.
Texts: Baird & Kaufmann, eds., Twentieth Century Philosophy 3/e (Prentice Hall, 2003).
PHIL 530: Metaphysics
Dr. Debby Hutchins
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that attempts to understand the ultimate nature of reality – what the nature of the world really is, what things the world really does contain, what the different categories of existing things really are, and what relations exist among those things. It considers such basic concepts as existence, identity, possibility, necessity, substance, matter, form, cause, and time. This semester we will focus on four central issues in metaphysics: the nature of time, the existence of God, personal identity, and freedom/determinism.
PHIL 534: Chinese Philosophy
Dr. Quanhua Liu
This course introduces students to major philosophical issues and disputes in the ancient Chinese Philosophy and Chan (Zen) Buddhism. We will read and discuss not only iconic Confucius (Kongzi) and Lao Tzu (Laozi) but also other resourceful thinkers in ancient China, such as Mencius (Mengzi) and Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi). The former, a dynamic disputer, is famous for his rigorous unrelenting defense of Confucian teaching and his creative development of Confucianism. The latter, a provocative critic of his contemporaries, is admired for his ability to present Taoism through his imaginative and animated parables. We will also explore Chan (Zen) Buddhist thoughts on the experience of satori, ego and egolessness, sense and nonsense, koan practice and arts. In addition, the course will also attempt to compare the Eastern thinkers' views with Western philosophers' on relevant issues. The course will take the format of combining lecture, discussion and presentation. Students will learn major schools’ theories in classical Chinese philosophy, different perspectives of looking at the world and various ways of reflecting on human experience. The course will help participants acquire a sense of world philosophy and be aware of what Francis Bacon called "idols" in our own tradition.
We will use two textbooks:
1. Lai, Karyn L. An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 2008.
2. Wing-Tsit Chan (Translator). A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, Princeton University Press, 1969.
PHIL 546: Philosophical Reflections on Christianity
Dr. David Calhoun
It is a commonplace of contemporary thought that Christianity and science have a relationship that is contentious as best, outright war at worst. In particular, battles concerning evolution and creation (now additionally involving efforts by members of the Intelligent Design or ID movement) seem to show fundamental and intractable conflict between, on the one hand, established scientific claims about the emergence and governance of living things by mechanical natural processes and, on the other, deeply-held beliefs about God’s intervention in the world. While modern theories in physics seem to some to be more compatible with Christian notions of creation, others suggest that progress in cosmological theories has the effect of chipping away at any possible divine role in the origins of the physical universe.
In this course we will examine the historical roots of the relationship between Christianity and science, with particular attention to the philosophical principles that animate both. We will focus on key events that shed light on the relationship between Christianity and science, such as the Galileo case and the emergence and scientific success of Darwinism in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Along the way, we will critically consider a variety of models that have been proposed to describe the Christianity-science relationship, from conflict to compatibility to integration.
PHIL 567: Faith and Reason
Dr. Brian Clayton
That faith and reason are either completely unrelated to each other or related only in conflict with each other seems to have become one of the commonplaces of the age. In the Christian theistic tradition this view has been held by only a minority of those who have reflected on the matter; the majority view has been that faith and reason can be, should be, and are integrated. The apparently widespread acceptance of the new commonplace, even among those who profess to be Christian theists, creates challenges for those Christians who accept the tradition’s majority position. One challenge is to respond to those outside of Christian theism, especially those who are atheists or secularists, and to show that their objections to such an integration can be answered. Another challenge is to address those within the Christian theistic community who make faith and reason entirely distinct or who see faith and reason in opposition. The challenge, here, is to show that, at the least, this is not required by one’s commitment to Christian theism. A stronger version of the challenge would be to show that the new commonplace is actually contrary to one’s commitment to Christian theism. The Christian heritage of faith seeking understanding (or reason) offers an alternative to both the secularist and the fideistic separation of the life of reason from the life of faith. This course will philosophically exploit this heritage as it pursues investigations of the relationships between the life of faith and the life of reason. Among the topics studied will be the following: the classical (Christian) theistic conception of God; classical and contemporary objections to (Christian) theism, such as those based on the experience of evil and suffering; classical and contemporary proofs for the existence of God, the latter proofs drawn particularly from the mathematical and physical sciences; and contemporary defenses of and objections to the tradition’s majority position on the faith and reason relationship.
Texts: William Carroll, Galileo: Science and Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2009);
Peter Kreeft, A Summa of the Summa (Ignatius Press, 1990); C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (HarperCollins, 2001);
Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., New Proofs for the Existence of God (Eerdmans, 2010);
other readings available online.
PHIL 577: Empathy
Dr. Richard McClelland
Graduate Seminar (Phil XXX): Empathy. This course will examine the ontogeny of empathy (its developmental arc in the individual human), its phylogeny (its adaptive value for humans and probably evolutionary history), its cognitive dimensions and its basis in the brain. We will also consider empathy as a member of a class (of non-rational modes of cognition), its general role in the moral life, and various forms of pathology that implicate deficits in empathic functioning (autism, personality disorders, psychosis and psychopathy). Epistemological ramifications of all this will also concern us.