Philosophy

Sewanee: The University of the South

Philosophy Courses

PHIL 101 Topics in Philosophy

Topics and themes in philosophy related to central questions of philosophy: Is there a meaning to human life?, What can we know?, What is the nature of reality?, and How should we live? These questions are addressed through a rigorous examination of philosophical texts, works of literature, films, and contemporary issues. (Credit, full course.) Staff Peterman

PHIL 190 Informal Logic and Critical Thinking

An introductory study of classical logic, symbolic logic, and informal reasoning. Not open for credit to students who have received credit for Phil 201. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 203 Ancient Philosophy from Homer to Augustine

An examination of ancient thought from Homer to Augustine, involving the study of major works of ancient philosophy in the context of their historical, cultural and religious setting. Special attention is given to how ancient thinkers understood human happiness, the place of human life in the order of the universe, the nature of reality, and the limits of human knowledge and reason. Primary emphasis is on the evaluation of these thinkers’ views. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 204 Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant

An examination of the philosophical revolution that accompanied the rise of modern science and its distinctive set of philosophical problems. The following problems are emphasized: the nature of knowledge and perception, the existence and nature of God, the existence of the material world, the nature of linguistic meaning, the mind-body relationship, and the nature of personal identity. (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 210 Philosophical Issues in Christianity

An examination of recent philosophical work on a number of doctrines that are central to traditional Christian theology. Topics include, among others, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the Resurrection, as well as the nature of God’s goodness and its compatibility with the traditional doctrine of Hell, and the ethics of love. Not open for credit to students who have completed Phil 213 or Phil 313. (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 215 Chinese Philosophy (also Asian Studies 215)

An examination of philosophical texts of classical Confucianism and Taoism. Emphasis is given to the cultural context of these texts and to the evaluation of the worldview they articulate. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 220 The Self

An analysis of the major turning points in the development of the concept of the self in Western philosophical thought. The point of the analysis is to elucidate our contemporary conception and the problems with it in order to point to a solution to these problems. In so doing, possible answers to the questions of the nature of rationality, knowledge, faith, and the meaning of life will be proposed. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 222 Contemporary Moral Issues

A philosophical examination of moral issues in contemporary life, such as abortion, euthanasia, sexual morality, capital punishment, environmental pollution, world hunger, and nuclear disarmament. Class lectures and discussions help clarify the nature of each issue and examine the various arguments that have been advanced. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 223 Philosophy of Art

An investigation of artistic judgment, creation and the work of art itself. Based on readings of works by such authors as Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, students consider art in its various manifestation, including painting, sculpture, architecture, music, dance, literature, and film. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 224 Philosophy of Film

An examination of film as a philosophical mode of expression. While sometimes treated as merely a popular medium, film requires the same attentive “close reading” as that devoted to written texts. This course examines how film “works” — that is, how its technological specificity affects how we understand and interpret its meaning philosophically. To address this issue, the course examines a combination of films, theoretical texts, and critical articles concerned with technique, genre, or individual films. Thematically, the course explores questions that bear on ethics, identity, and community. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 226 Philosophical Issues in Daoism (also Asian Studies 226)

An introduction to the classical texts of philosophical Daoism, Zhuangzi and Daodejing, and to the classical and contemporary philosophical debates and controversies these texts have generated. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 230 Environmental Ethics (also Environmental Studies 230)

Examines a wide range of controversial issues concerning the moral responsibilities of human beings toward the natural environment with special attention to competing philosophical theories on the moral status of non-human species and natural ecosystems. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 232 Business Ethics

An examination of the moral dimensions of business activity, especially within the context of a democratic society. Topics may include social and economic justice, the nature of corporations, corporate accountability, social responsibility, the morality of hiring and firing, employee rights and duties, advertising, product safety, obligations to the environment, and international business. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 235 Medical Ethics

This survey of moral issues surrounding the practice of medicine emphasizes the role of both implicit and explicit assumptions in determining what qualifies as an ethical issue. Topics may include human genome research, abortion, the practitioner/patient relationship, the distribution of care, institutional effects on practice, decisions to terminate life, and the use of animals and fetal tissue in experimental research. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 240 Controversies in Feminist Ethics (also Women’s Studies 240)

An examination of the debates and issues that are central to feminist ethics. Topics covered include some of the following feminist challenges to traditional Western ethical theories: that traditional ethical theories have overlooked the significance of the emotions for moral reasoning and justification, that traditional theories have incorrectly emphasized justice, universality, and impartiality rather than care and attachments to particular individuals, and that Western ethics includes problematic assumptions about the atomistic nature of human beings. The course also explores the contemporary debates surrounding applied issues of particular interest to feminist authors, such as filial obligations, marriage, sexuality, abortion, prostitution, and pornography. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 252 Existentialism

A survey of existentialism as a philosophic movement conducted through a study of its origins in Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and its contemporary expression in the writings of such thinkers as Heidegger and Sartre. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 255 Existentialism in Film

This course examines the distinctive ways in which films by figures such as Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurasawa, Terence Malick, and Woody Allen illustrate, examine, and attempt to resolve a variety of philosophical problems. Special attention is given to themes and problems arising in the thought of existentialist philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Sren Kierkegaard, and Jean Paul Sartre. Emphasis is on interpreting films in their relation to philosophical texts, on understanding the particular strengths and limits with which films represent such problems, and on the critical insights that films can offer about how to resolve philosophical issues. This course has the attribute of Film Studies. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 300 Contemporary Problems in Philosophical Theology

A critical examination of selected writings of contemporary philosophers on key issues in philosophical theology. Special emphasis is given to current philosophical discussion of doctrines and problems of traditional Christian thought. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 302 Medieval Philosophy

An examination of some of the major philosophical texts of the medieval period from Augustine to Aquinas, including representative works from the medieval Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. This course ends with a reading of Alasdair MacIntyre's work, Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry, to raise the question of the validity of these medieval philosophical traditions in the pluralistic, post-modern world. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 306 Epistemology

An analysis of the philosophical problem of the nature of knowledge with specific emphasis on the problem of skepticism and solutions to that problem. Prerequisite: One 200-level philosophy course. (Credit, full course.) Peterman, Conn

PHIL 307 Political Philosophy

A consideration of the nature and justification of political institutions through an examination of historically classic as well as contemporary sources. Special attention is given to debates concerning the proper expression of distributive justice, and to the nature and scope of political rights and liberties. Prerequisite: One 200-level philosophy course. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 308 Metaphysics

This historically oriented program of reading and discussion focuses on the basic issues and fundamental problems of metaphysics. Particular attention is paid to the place of metaphysics in traditional philosophical thought and to its contemporary status and significance. Prerequisite: One 200-level philosophy course. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 309 Ethics

This course focuses on such approaches as Virtue Theory, Deontology, and Consequentialism, their source in classical texts, their treatment of such issues as the nature of value, the justification of action, and the psychology of moral choice, as well as on critiques of these approaches. Not open for credit to students who have previously taken Phil 202. Prerequisite: Any 100-level or 200-level philosophy course. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 310 Faith in Philosophy and Literature

A critical reading of selected philosophical and literary works which explore the nature and significance of religious faith. This course considers how literary narrative and philosophical analysis function distinctively in the dialogue of faith and reason. Major figures include Pascal, Hume, Kierkegaard, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor, and C.S. Lewis. This class is conducted as a seminar with in-class presentations and a semester-long project. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 311 American Philosophy (also American Studies)

A study of the transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau and the pragmatism of Pierce, James, and Dewey with focus on the relationship between theories of reality and theories of value. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 312 Modern Logic

The aim of this course is to provide students with a working knowledge of modern logic through an examination of three increasingly powerful methods of representing the logical structure of ordinary language arguments. Emphasis on developing strategies for proving validity and invalidity. (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 319 Nineteenth-Century Philosophy

A survey of the major philosophers and movements from Kant to the beginning of the twentieth century. Some of the philosophies covered include Absolute Idealism, Marxism, existentialism, British liberalism, and pragmatism. Special attention is given to Hegel, Mill, Nietzsche, and William James. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 320 20th-Century Philosophy

This course examines the development of Analytic Philosophy, which dominated academic philosophy in England and the United States for most of the twentieth century. Special attention focuses on Russell's and Moore's rejection of nineteenth-century idealism, American pragmatism, logical positivism, and ordinary language philosophy. Some of the recent post-modern critiques of analytic philosophy are also considered. (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 321 Philosophy of Law

An examination of philosophical issues surrounding the nature of law and legal reasoning. Topics to include the following: the conditions of legal validity and the viability of natural law theory; the nature of legal normativity and its relation to other public manifestations of normativity (such as morality, religion, and etiquette); the limits and conditions of human liberty; the Constitutional status of rights to privacy; and the moral and legal justification of punishment. Not open for credit to students who have completed Phil 221. (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 322 Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy

A survey of some of the main figures and texts in twentieth-century European thought. The class is based on questions concerning the relationship between self and other, and includes readings by such figures as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Primo Levi, Emmanuel Levinas, Simone Weil, and Jacques Derrida. Novels and plays are read alongside philosophical texts, with attention given to the way in which similar themes are articulated in these different styles of writing. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 325 Plato

A study of selected Platonic dialogue—especially the early and middle dialogues—together with the ethics of Socrates and the theories of knowledge, reality, and value developed by Plato. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 337 Philosophy of Science

A philosophical examination of the goals and methods of the natural sciences. Special attention is given to contemporary debates surrounding the following questions: How do we distinguish between science and non-science? What is the nature of scientific inference? How are scientific theories related to observational data? Are all natural sciences reducible to physics? What is the ontological status of unobservable, theoretical entities? How should we understand the relation between science and religion? (Credit, full course.) Conn

PHIL 340 Kierkegaard

An examination of the philosophy of Soren Kierkegaard through a close reading of such primary texts as Either/Or, The Sickness Unto Death, Philosophical Fragments, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, and The Concept of Anxiety. Prominent themes may include, among other things, Kierkegaard's conception of the self and the various types of despair that constitute a misrelation of the self; his conception of the differing aesthetic, ethical and religious spheres of existence; his critiques of modern philosophy and the modern church; and his understanding of the significance of various philosophical and religious beliefs and activities for living well. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 350 Aristotle

A study of the components and the coherence of Aristotle's general understanding of being, philosophy of nature, conception of truth, and theory of man and the state. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 353 Theories of War and Peace (also Political Science 353)

This course examines historical and contemporary perspectives on war and peace; provides an overview of classical, modern, and contemporary theories of the nature of justice between states and the moral basis of war; and examines just war, pacifism, and terrorism in the Christian and Islamic traditions. This course cannot be used in fulfillment of any general distribution requirement. (Credit, full course.) Peters

PHIL 403 Whitehead

The metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead, studied both in its historical development and in its systematic expression in Process and Reality. (Credit, full course.)

PHIL 411 Wittgenstein

An examination and evaluation of Wittgenstein's philosophical views through a close reading of various writings from Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus to Philosophical Investigations. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 415 Nietzsche

Examines selected writings from The Birth of Tragedy to The Will to Power. Emphasis is given to close reading of texts and critical evaluation of their main ideas. (Credit, full course.) Peterman

PHIL 426 Topics in Contemporary Philosophy

Examines contemporary debate on a selected topic such as ethical relativism, the relation of mind to body, or the nature of free will. (Credit, full course.) Staff

PHIL 444 Independent Study

No description. (Credit, half to full course.) Staff

Sewanee: The University of the South