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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

For current class offerings, times, and additional information, visit the Office of the Registrar.

Spring 2013 Course Offerings


PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.001 MTh 8:55AM-10:10AM Sigrist, M
This course will introduce students to the history of Western philosophy by beginning with the question, "How should one live?" Unsurprisingly, many philosophers answer this question with, "Philosophically!" We will let our philosophers make their case, but we will not take their word for it. Examining the question closely will involve addressing most of the perennial issues in the history of Western philosophy: the nature of ethical responsibility, the foundation of value, the possibility of knowledge, what it means to be a self, and the nature of reality. We will study works from ancient Greece to the twentieth century. Students should be prepared to learn how to examine a text closely for a sustained period of time; to analyze, comprehend and construct arguments; and to participate actively and respectfully in classroom discussion.

.002 MTh 10:20-11:35AM Marquis, J
.003 TF 8:55-10:10AM Marquis, J
.004 MTh 4:00-5:15PM Erfani, F
This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition. Students closely examine classic and contemporary texts on the nature of reality, truth, morality, goodness, and justice; the possibility of knowledge; faith, reason, and the existence of God; and the issue of freedom and determinism.

PHIL-200 Introduction to Logic
TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Stam, J
Basic principles of formal deductive logic, both Aristotelian (syllogistics) and modern (propositional and predicate calculus), with some attention to informal logic also. Text and exercises supplemented by discussions on history, applications, and critical appraisal of different logical systems. This is the course recommended for pre-law students by Law School Admissions Deans.

PHIL-220 Moral Philosophy
MTH 1:10-2:25PM Tschemplik, A
.003H TF 10:20-11:35AM Feder, E
This course investigates the question of what it means to live a moral life. Examining major works in Western philosophy, issues discussed include moral goodness and evil, the nature of justice and rights, the relationship between morality and self-interest, the justification of moral judgments, relativism versus objective truth, the role of pleasure in the good life, and the meaning of character and virtue.

.002 MW 8:10-9:25PM Carr, R
By nature all human beings evaluate experiences. Some experiences are good, some shameful, some praiseworthy. This evaluation is the basis of morality. How does one determine whether an experience is good or bad, harmful or beneficial? What role do reason, principles, intuition, and feeling play in the determination? How does thinking well about morality impact our decisions on vegetarianism, euthanasia, and poverty?

PHIL-230 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
TF 8:55-10:10AM Oliver, M
.002 TF 4:00-5:15PM Oliver, M
Taking a global and broadly historical approach, students examine art from a variety of critical and philosophical perspectives. Examples will be drawn from ancient Mesopotamia, classical Greece, India, Japan, the Islamic tradition, Renaissance Europe, and modern America. Student projects engage particular works of art through both theoretical and creative avenues.

.003 TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Pathak, S
This course focuses on the interpretation of works of art through increased understanding of the artworks themselves, the lives of those who create them, and the societal influences on these artists. In addition to considering premodern, modern, and postmodern criticism of a variety of forms of literary and visual art, students will interpret the oeuvres of particular artists of interest to them. To prepare for these projects, students will study four ways in which artists create meaning in their works: mythologization, memorialization, mobilization, and universalization.

PHIL-235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
TTh 8:10-9:25PM Nitsch, C
This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

PHIL-240 Ethics in the Professions
TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Leighton, K
This course provides a framework for thinking generally about ethics, and more specifically about professional ethics. In addition, it addresses ethical dilemmas that arise in the professions of government, law, business, medicine, the media, and the academy.

PHIL-241 Bioethics
TTh 6:45-8:00PM Pascalev, A
.002 TTh 5:20-6:35PM Pascalev, A
An introduction to the growing field of bioethics, this course examines the ethical implications of recent developments in bio-medical technology, as well as the ethical lessons of historical cases. Students read philosophers and ethicists on topics such as human subject research, patients' rights, medical rationing, and public and global health issues.

PHIL-380 Colloquium: Disturbing Bodies
 T 8:10-10:40PM on 1/22, 1/29, 2/05, 2/12, and 2/19
Feder, E
Over the last 60 years, "standard" practices in the medical management of intersex conditions have involved open violation of accepted bioethical principles. This colloquium makes use of the distinctive tools of philosophy to investigate how these practices could pass muster within medicine and society at large despite this violation.

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

PHIL-391/691 Internship in Philosophy
 Feder, E

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair. Note for PHIL-391: generally open only to seniors.

PHIL-398 Honors Project in Philosophy

Prerequisite: permission of department and University Honors Director.

PHIL-401/601 Early Modern Philosophy
Th 5:30PM-8:00PM Tschemplik, A
The focus of this course will be to examine how Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, and Kant formulate the problem of knowledge and reality, and then to assess whether their moral theories can be understood as derivations from their epistemological concerns. For example, we will read Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and then turn to An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals to examine whether these two works are consistent with each other.

Prerequisite for PHIL-401: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.
Note: PHIL-400 is recommended but not required.

PHIL-411/611 Psychoanalysis and/as Philosophy of Mind
 W 11:45-2:25PM Flax, J
Although Freud believed he had to repress his philosophic inclinations to develop the "science" of psychoanalysis, his theories address central topics in philosophy. In this course we will focus on the philosophy of mind. Beginning with John Searle’s overview of modern Western philosophies of mind, we will contrast how Freud and D. W. Winnicott approach similar topics. Judith Butler’s The Psychic Life of Power will add further considerations of gender and power. The class will also explore the philosophic implications of psychoanalytic practices through viewing movies and episodes of the HBO series In Treatment

Prerequisite for PHIL-411: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-412/612 Heidegger's Being and Time
T 5:30-8:00PM Reiman, J
In this course, we will begin by reading Edmund Husserl’s Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. Then we will turn to the main business of the course and do a close reading of Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time, thought by many to be most important philosophical work of the twentieth century. Husserl was Heidegger’s teacher, and we will see that Being and Time is an attempt to radicalize the phenomenological project into an exploration of the nature of being itself. This is a course for students who are excited by the prospect of working through a great, profound and difficult text.

Prerequisite for PHIL-412: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-412/612 Derrida and Buddhism
 M 5:30-8:00PM Park, J
Derridean deconstruction is arguably one of the most influential continental philosophies of the late 20th century. The class will examine major works by Jacques Derrida, compare Derridean deconstruction with Buddhist philosophy, and consider the influence of the deconstructive mode of thinking in our understanding of identity, ethics and politics.

Prerequisite for PHIL-412: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-480 Senior Seminar: Why We Do Philosophy
W 2:35-5:15PM Feder, E
We will begin the seminar with philosophers in the ancient tradition, beginning with Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius before we turn to Spinoza, who takes on the question of the end to which we do philosophy. Among the contemporary works that take up the task of considering the enduring relevance of the examination exemplified by the thinkers in the history of the tradition are Hannah Arendt and Martha Nussbaum. We'll read Eichmann in Jerusalem and Nussbaum's reflection on law and politics in her recent book, From Disgust to Humanity. The planned readings should take us to midsemester, by which point you all will be working on your own projects.  Readings for the rest of the semester will be decided on collectively by the class.

Prerequisite: senior philosophy major. 

PHIL-485/685 Nietzsche's Life Affirmation
 TF 4:00-5:15PM Marquis, J
In this course we will explore how the affirmation of life, which Nietzsche also calls Yes-Saying and Amor Fati, functions within his larger philosophical project. We will explore its relationship to the related concepts of the will to power, the eternal return, and nihilism.     

Prerequisite for PHIL-485: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor. 

PHIL-525 Modern Moral Problems
 T 8:10-10:40PM Leighton, K
The promise of genetic medicine continues to raise moral questions about to what extent genetic technologies should be used for "enhancement" rather than for "treatment" purposes. Going beyond the issue of choice, debates about genetic enhancement have concerned human nature itself. This course examines a wide range of views on genetic enhancement offered by philosophers and social theorists. In addition to investigating how both critics and advocates understand the nature of genetic enhancement, the course analyzes the implications of this ethical debate for social policy, ethical theory, and our conceptions of identity, family, race, and disability.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.

PHIL-693 Global Ethics
 Th 5:30-8:00PM Berry, E
The integrative seminar for the M.A. in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. Discusses ethics, ethical systems, and the presuppositions of international relations from a critical, cross-cultural perspective. Completion and presentation of a major integrative research paper is required.

PHIL-702 Beauvoir and Her Readers
 W 5:30-8:00PM Bergoffen, D
We will read Simone de Beauvoir within the context of her existential-phenomenological and feminist readers. We will grapple with her major texts, discuss the import and impact of her writings, and address the debates surrounding the meaning and continued relevance of her work.


RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Schaefer, M
The exploration of the religious traditions that help to shape the Western world. The course covers the Ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman roots of Western religion. Jewish tradition from ancient Israelite religion to modern movements in Judaism. Christianity as emergent Jewish movement to dominant Western religion. Influence of Islam in medieval Europe and the contemporary world. Exploration of American based religions: Mormonism, Unitarianism, Christian Science, and American Civil Religion.

.002 MTh 8:55-10:10AM Copulsky, J
The contribution of religion to Western civilization. The eastern Mediterranean roots of Western religions, the emergence of Christianity in the Greco-Roman world, and the rise of Islam. The mature religious synthesis of Medieval Europe. Modern secularism's challenge to this tradition.

RELG-185 Forms of the Sacred
TF 10:20-11:35AM Oliver, M
Introduces methods of studying religion and places religious traditions in comparative relief. Surveys the basic features of the major religions of Asia—including Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Shinto—and explores how these traditions shape Asian cultures and societies. Includes study of both the sacred texts and the lived experiences of these traditions.

.002 MTH 2:35-3:50PM Greenberg, G
Since we live in both the global village and in our own national, but multicultural, universe, some knowledge of Eastern religions can be a real asset. The course covers three major religious traditions: the traditions developed in South Asia which form Hinduism, Buddhism as it developed in India and is transformed in East Asia, and the indigenous religious traditions of China and Japan. Throughout the course, the manifestations of religion in both high and popular culture and religion's influence on issues of gender, social structure and personal behaviors will be addressed.

RELG-196 Religion and Globalization
MTh 10:20-11:35AM Berry, E
This course explores world religions from the perspective of globalization: we will not study religions as independent, separable traditions, but rather as participants in a series of cross-cultural interactions about meaning and morality. Religion and Globalization will trace a variety of theological, political, and economic exchanges among traditions.

RELG-210 Non-Western Religious Traditions
MTH 11:45-1:00PM Park, J
.002 MTh 2:35-3:50PM Park, J
This course examines how non-Western religious traditions function as systems of symbols, how they interact with both indigenous religious traditions and external religious traditions, and how they respond to modernization and imperialism. The first three weeks will be devoted to create a framework to understand religious phenomena with a special focus on religion and freedom and then the class will read selected texts from Asian religious traditions, examine their interaction with the Western intellectual world, and explore their modern transformations. 

RELG-220 Religious Thought
MTh 4:00-5:15PM Greenberg, G
Religion and religion's role in life. Beginning with modern approaches to the study of religion, this course examines religious ways of defining the human situation, the quest for salvation, wholeness, and transcendence, and the problem of speaking about the divine within the terms of modern culture.

RELG-391 Internship in Religious Studies

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.

RELG-472/672 Religion in America
M 8:10-10:40PM Greenberg, G
A survey of America's religions beginning with Christianity and Judaism and continuing through contemporary developments of Islam and Buddhism. The course also examines Native American religions, Puritanism, Mormonism, Catholicism, AME, Seventh Day Adventism, and Freemasonry. Field trips to sites in Washington, D.C.

RELG-473/673 Hinduism
 TF 2:35-3:50PM, Pathak, S
This introduction to Hinduism focuses on four phases in the development of this vibrant religious tradition: (1) the internalization of yajna (sacrifice) during the Vedic period, (2) the realization of dharma (righteousness) during the classical period, (3) the diversification of bhakti (devotion) during the medieval period, and (4) the reconsideration of varna (class) during the modern period. Central to the study of each phase will be close readings of selections from its main mythological and philosophical texts, which will be considered in light of lived religious practices.