100-Level Courses


Prof. Ronald De Sousa
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:00

This course is a historical introduction to philosophy. It takes up some basic questions about human life as they have been addressed in the Western philosophical tradition. What is a life worth living? What is a just political order? What is the basis for judgments of good and bad, right and wrong? Is there a God? What can I know, and how can I know it? What is the mind and what is its relation to the body? In pursuit of answers to these questions, we examine the views of influential philosophers of the past, in chronological order. We will read works by Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Mill, Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Rawls.  Those primary readings will be supplemented by the course lectures and, after the first week of the year, by tutorial discussion groups. Our concern in this course is not just the scholarly one of who said what when—though you will be expected to pay attention to that; the aim is to DO philosophy: that is, to bring arguments to bear on the question of how to try to make sense of our existence. The goal is to learn how to raise and address questions in a systematic and reasoned fashion while learning something about the traditions, methods, and concerns of philosophy.

Readings: Plato, Republic; Plato, Meno; Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; Descartes, Meditations;  Hobbes, Leviathan; Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality; de Beauvoir, The Second Sex. Specific editions of each text are preferred by the instructor.

Evaluation: Six short 3-5 page papers (10% each); Tutorial Participation and Attendance (10%); Cumulative final examination (30%)



Prof. James John
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00-11:00

This course will introduce you to philosophy. Its main purpose is to acquaint you with the kinds of questions philosophers ask and to impart an understanding of why those questions matter.  A secondary purpose is to improve your skills as a critical reader, thinker, and writer.  We will consider some of the perennial philosophical problems:  problems to do with (among other things) the existence of God, free will, personal identity, knowledge, human well-being, the significance of death, the relation between mind and body, science, morality, justice and political authority, and the meaning of life.

Reading: TBA (But will consist of short selections from classic and contemporary works on the course topics.)

Evaluation: TBA (Most likely: four short term papers; midterm exam; final exam; attendance and discussion participation at weekly tutorials.)