Philosophy

Applicable for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Philosophy Website

Professors: M. HOURDEQUIN, J. LEE, J. RIKER; Associate Professors: H. DALY (Chair), R. FURTAK, A. HERNANDEZ-LEMUS, D. McENNERNEY

The Department of Philosophy at Colorado College embraces diversity in philosophical inquiry, emphasizing historical, contemporary, comparative, and critical approaches in an effort to make available to students the breadth and richness of philosophical thinking.

Major Requirements

The philosophy major requires a minimum of 12 units. Majors with emphases, requiring a minimum of 14 units, allow students to gain advanced expertise in one of the subfields or areas of interest in philosophy. The Department of Philosophy recommends that students declare the major by the end of their sophomore year.

Students enrolling in the regular Philosophy Major complete at least 12 units of philosophy courses in total, distributed as follows:

1. Historical and Cultural Perspectives (4 units). These courses investigate central issues and concerns emerging in important historical periods and locales, tracing how those concerns change over time.

   a. One ancient Greco-Roman course, chosen from among the following:

  • PH101: Greek Philosophy
  • PH116: Greek History and Philosophy
  • PH244: Classical Social and Political Philosophy

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH203: Topics in Philosophy
  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar

   b. One modern European or American course, chosen from among the following:

  • PH201: History of Modern European Philosophy
  • PH204: American Philosophy
  • PH245: Modern Social and Political Philosophy
  • PH260: Existential Philosophy
  • PH301: 20th Century Analytic Philosophy
  • PH302: Recent Continental Philosophy

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH203: Topics in Philosophy
  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar

   c. Two non-Western or critical Western courses, chosen from among the following:

  • PH243: Philosophy and Politics of Identity
  • PH280: Philosophy East and West
  • PH281: Indian Philosophy
  • PH282: Africana Philosophy
  • PH283: Latin American Philosophy
  • PH284: Feminist Philosophies
  • PH285: Philosophy and Race

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH203: Topics in Philosophy
  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar

2. One unit in Logic and Writing.  Choose between the following:

  • PH122: Philosophical Argument and Writing; OR
  • PH226: Formal Logic

3. Three 1-unit capstone courses.  Complete all of the following courses:

   a. PH452: Junior Seminar

   b. PH475: Senior Essay

   c. PH476: Senior Seminar

4. At least two units at the 300-level. This requirement may be satisfied in tandem with the “Historical and Cultural Perspectives” courses.

Optional Major with Emphasis in Philosophy: Students who seek an emphasis in philosophy may complete the major with an emphasis in one of the following six philosophical areas.

  • History of Philosophy
  • Comparative Philosophy
  • Ethics and Social Justice
  • Philosophical Psychology
  • Philosophy, Science, and Technology
  • Metaphysics and Epistemology

Upon graduation, a major with emphasis diploma with be granted in, for example, "Philosophy: History of Philosophy," "Philosophy: Comparative Philosophy," and so on.  A major with emphasis allows students to develop depth in an area that greatly interests them, and it may be of value if students aspire to pursuing advanced graduate studies in that specialized area or a related one.

A Philosophy Major with Emphasis requires:

  1. Completing the requirements for a regular 12-unit major in philosophy.
  2. Completing at least two additional units of philosophy in the area chosen (for a total of at least 14 units of philosophy); and
  3. Writing a senior essay in the area of emphasis.

Minor Requirements

The Philosophy Minor requires satisfactorily completing at least 6 units of philosophy in total, distributed as follows:

1. One ancient Greco-Roman or modern European or American course chosen from among the following:
  • PH101: Greek Philosophy
  • PH116: Greek History and Philosophy
  • PH244: Classical Social and Political Philosophy
  • PH201: History of Modern European Philosophy
  • PH204: American Philosophy
  • PH245: Modern Social and Political Philosophy
  • PH260: Existential Philosophy
  • PH301: 20th Century Analytic Philosophy
  • PH302: Recent Continental Philosophy

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH203: Topics in Philosophy
  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar
2. One non-Western or critical Western course, chosen from among the following:
  • PH243: Philosophy and Politics of Identity
  • PH280: Philosophy East and West
  • PH281: Indian Philosophy
  • PH282: Africana Philosophy
  • PH283: Latin American Philosophy
  • PH284: Feminist Philosophies
  • PH285: Philosophy and Race

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH203: Topics in Philosophy
  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar
3. One unit at the 300- or 400-level.

Social and Political Philosophy Minor Requirements

In addition to the regular Philosophy Minor, the department offers a specialized Minor in Social & Political Philosophy.  Students enrolling in this minor complete at least 6 units of philosophy courses in total, distributed as follows:

1. Two units in the history of social and political philosophy:
  • PH244: Classical Social and Political Philosophy
  • PH245: Modern Social and Political Philosophy
2. Two units of advanced work in social and political philosophy, chosen from among the following:
  • PH341: Contemporary Political Philosophy
  • PH342: Critical Theory

      Or when topically appropriate:

  • PH303: Advanced Topics in Philosophy
  • PH314: Text Seminar
3. Two additional units of Philosophy chosen from among the following:
  • PH140: Ethics
  • PH243: Philosophy and Politics of Identity
  • PH246: Environmental Ethics
  • PH260: Existential Philosophy
  • PH282: Africana Philosophy
  • PH282: Latin American Philosophy
  • PH284: Feminist Philosophies
  • PH285: Philosophy and Race
  • PH340: Ethics and Contemporary Life

Courses

Philosophy

An examination of the origins of Western philosophy as it arose in ancient Greece. The course begins with the Pre-Socratic philosophers, centers on the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, and closes with the important Hellenistic traditions of Stoicism, Skepticism, Epicureanism, Cynicism, and Neoplatonism. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: HP requirement.

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Aegean and Greek archaeological, historical, literary and philosophical texts, with emphasis on ideas formative of Western culture. The development and transformations of these ideas as reflected in selected texts from the early Christian era, the Enlightenment, and the Modern Age. We concentrate on concepts of what it means to be human, and the relation of individuals to community, nature, and the divine in such authors as Homer, Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Dante, Descartes, Goethe, Nietzsche, and Heidegger (Also listed as History 116 and Philosophy 116.) Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Equity and Power: EPG requirement.

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An introduction to critical thinking and conceptual argument, this course will cover basic principles of logic as they pertain to philosophical writing and thinking. Students will master essential skills for reading and evaluating arguments, engage with a variety of methods and styles of philosophical inquiry, and learn techniques of composition that enhance the clarity and elegance of their written work. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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An exploration of the questions of what constitutes a good human life, what it means to be a moral human being, and whether reasoning about ethical and moral values can be objective. Texts may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche, among others. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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Through a study of the literary style of certain philosophical texts and the philosophical significance of selected literary works of art, this course will study the comparative ability of different modes of writing to address traditional philosophical questions and to illuminate particular features of human experience. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An introduction to philosophy through works of science fiction. Many profound questions about the nature of reality and the nature of humanity have been raised in sci fi and discussed in philosophical essays. Students in this course will consider a wide range of important philosophical questions with the help of mutually illuminating works of philosophy and science fiction. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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This course explores how 17th and 18th century European philosophers critiqued the religious epistemology and way of being that reigned for a millennium in the West. In contrast, they proposed novel ways to attain knowledge and to conceive of the powers and limitations of the human mind. These philosophies helped create a “modern mind”: one that demands rational arguments and/or empirical evidence to establish knowledge, that doubts authorities claiming to know metaphysical realities, that demands freedom to pursue its individual life, and that is prone to nihilism. This kind of mind, increasingly dominant globally, appears natural and underlies a problematic way of being in the world. Philosophers studied may include Descartes, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche. (Not offered 2022-23).

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A study of the evolution of philosophical “modernity” and of the “modern” concept of the subject or self. The course includes major ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical developments from the mid17thcentury to the mid-19th, as situated in medieval philosophy. The course also includes a critique from the margins of modern Europe, interrogating the concepts “Europe,” “Modernity,” “Enlightenment” and “Reason,” which are key to the European project of modernity. Modernity is more than an intellectual initiative; it is the expansion of a way of life that has encompassed the world. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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Experimental and occasional courses taught by either visiting professors or permanent staff. Courses offered under this rubric will vary from year to year.

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An exploration of the philosophical thought of American philosophers, focusing on those associated with transcendentalism and pragmatism, with an emphasis on their conceptions of nature, the construction of truth, and their theories of individualism. Thinkers to be read can include Emerson, Thoreau, Pierce, James, Dewey, Whitehead, Mead, Santayana, Rorty, and Cavell. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An exploration of the development of French philosophy from the interwar period to the present. Using the city of Paris as its context, the course examines how dramatic social and political challenges influenced the paths of French philosophical reflection, moving thinkers to question the foundations of knowledge, morals, and politics, leading ultimately to what might be called a “decentered” cosmopolitanism. Taught in Paris. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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A thematically or historically organized course dealing with a single topic or set of related topics in philosophy, to be taught as an extended format course over one semester or part of a semester. Topics will vary from year to year. .25 unit (Not offered 2022-23).

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A thematically or historically organized course dealing with a single topic or set of related topics in philosophy, to be taught either during half-block or as a one-semester extended format course. Topics will vary from year to year.

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Surveys the development of philosophy from its beginnings in classical Greece through the early modern period in Europe, culminating in Kant’s philosophical revolution. This two-block course introduces major figures in the history of Western philosophy, selected areas of philosophical inquiry, and central questions that remain pertinent today. The course may incorporate some amount of non-Western thought, to provide comparative perspectives. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An introduction to the study of logical reasoning through formal languages. Students will use a variety of tools to evaluate and construct arguments, including the languages of sentential logic and first-order Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: FRL requirement.

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An introduction to contemporary issues in the philosophy of science, focusing on the nature of science; scientific epistemology; values and objectivity in science; and relationships between science and society. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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An exploration of the nature of language and its relation to thought and reality. Specifically, we will consider communication and coordination between people, as well as language’s essential role in conceptual thought. Readings will be mostly contemporary Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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Considers the meanings, problems, and possibilities of contemporary identity politics. Explores different approaches toward identity and politics, including liberal, existential, and traditionalist understandings. Traces the emergence of a new kind of identity politics out of racial, feminist, and queer movements of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Assesses contemporary discussions of identity and politics, in relation to both the history of Western thought and contemporary multicultural societies. Authors discussed may include Locke, Sartre, MacIntyre, Fanon, Young, Taylor, Butler, Azoulay, and Alcoff. (Not offered 2022-23).

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Explores major works of classical idealist philosophy, considered in contexts of Greek, Roman, Biblical, and medieval political orders. Addresses the tensions between philosophical visions of the good and democratic or republican politics. Texts discussed may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, or Pizan, as well as Biblical sources. Meets the Critical Learning: HP requirement.

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Investigates leading modern and contemporary political philosophers, highlighting the ways these thinkers sought to break with tradition and rethink political membership, ethical obligations, and governmental authority in light of the evolution of modern states and societies. Addresses tensions between proclamations of human equality and the emergence of new forms of hierarchy and exclusion in states formally committed to inclusive democratic principles.

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This course explores the ethical dimensions of humans’ relationships with the environment and one another, focusing on environmental ethics as developed in and through practice as well as theory. We will consider topics such as animal ethics, land and ecological ethics, ecofeminism, environmental justice, climate ethics, and intergenerational ethics.

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This course deals with the creation and appreciation of works of the imagination, including such questions as: what is art?, how are we to evaluate works of art?, and how does art enrich our lives?

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An examination of multiple conceptions of fairness, equity, and justice in relation to climate change, and how calls for justice and fairness are used both to reinforce and to challenge existing power relations, within and among nations. Prerequisites: None. 1 unit. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Equity and Power: EPUS requirement.

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What does education mean and what are its purposes and values? Topics examined: education vs. schooling; education for critical consciousness vs. conservation of values; training vs. the search for wisdom; how can students learn to educate themselves, and how can schools, administrators and teachers aid in education? (Not offered 2022-23).

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A study of several thinkers in the existential tradition, which has its origin in the 19th century writings of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and includes such 20th century authors as Heidegger and Camus, among others. Issues to be covered include freedom, authenticity, meaning, the absurd, the predicament of the contingent individual, and the aims of philosophy itself. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An examination of different ways of understanding the mind, beginning with classic arguments for dualism and materialism and moving on to contemporary views which seek to avoid either separating mind and body or reducing one to the other. Consideration of various functions of the embodied mind and of the difference between mental and physical concepts. 1 unit - Furtak (Not offered 2022-23).

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Major psychoanalytic perspectives of the late 19th and 20th centuries on the concept of the unconscious in theory, case studies, and fiction. Emphasis on unconscious processes as they relate to the formation of identity. Readings from such authors as Freud, Jung, Klein, Winnicott, Kohut, and Yalom. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SHB requirement.

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An introductory study of Freud and Kohut and the transformation of their theories in contemporary psychoanalysis. Students will read the works of and meet with distinguished psychoanalysts who will present new approaches to understanding psychoanalytic theory and therapeutic action. We will also explore how psychoanalysis can be used in the interpretation of culture, especially art and theater. 1 unit. Taught in part in Chicago at the Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SHB requirement.

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An exploration of the work of Sigmund Freud designed to introduce the wide-ranging scope and the dramatic evolution of his thought. Beginning with his collaboration with Josef Breuer in Studies on Hysteria (1895), the course continues with a careful examination of Freud’s approach to dream interpretation, his account of psychosexual development, and his nuanced theory of unconscious processes. On the basis of this review of classical psychoanalytic theory, the course then delves into Freud’s controversial but influential use of psychoanalysis as a tool for cultural criticism, while also turning to Freud’s continual revision of his fundamental theoretical models during the 1920s and 1930s. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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This course explores central issues in philosophy from a cross-cultural, comparative perspective. Drawing on classical and contemporary texts, the course covers topics such as ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and conceptions of the self from a comparative point of view. The challenge of comparing concepts and traditions across cultures is discussed. (Not offered 2021-22). Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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The development of Indian philosophy from its roots in the Vedic tradition of Hinduism. The focus of the course will be both on the ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical systems that grew out of the Hindu tradition and on the challenges to this tradition posed by Buddhism and by 20th century developments. (Meets the Diverse Cultures and Critiques requirement.) (Also listed as Asian Studies 220) 1 unit - Lee Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An exploration of themes in African, Caribbean, and North American thought, this course looks closely at ways in which philosophers of the African diaspora have responded to colonialism, the process of decolonization, and the postcolonial situation. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. Meets the Equity and Power: EPG requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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A survey of philosophical writings by Latin-American authors in the social and historical context of the region. Texts studied include Indigenous philosophies of the pre-Hispanic tradition, as well as those of the colonial and postcolonial periods. Particular attention will be devoted to issues that are central to this philosophical tradition, such as identity, consciousness through education, and philosophies of liberation. Our readings draw from Aztec or Maya sources, as well as from Leon-Portilla, Vasconcelos, Paz, Freire, Gutierrez, Dussel. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Global Cultures requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An exploration of feminism through the lens of philosophy, this course will involve both classic and contemporary works of feminist thought. Topics may range from political philosophy and ethics to epistemology and metaphysics, including issues to do with the body, race, class, sexuality, work, family, science, climate change, or disability. (Not offered 2022-23).

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Race is a social construct that invites a number of philosophical questions, such as those of identity, inter-subjectivity, justice, rationality, and culturally different ways of knowing. The course will examine, among others, philosophical reflections on race by the following thinkers: Douglass, West, Fanon, Vasconcelos, Appiah, Bernsaconi, Outlaw, Levinas, Mendieta. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Social Inequality requirement.

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An exploration of classical Chinese philosophy (~600-200 BCE). The course focuses on primary texts in English translation – the Analects of Confucius, Mozi, Mengzi, Laozi (the Daodejing), Zhuangzi, and Xunzi– and considers topics and themes such as ethics, moral development, governance, and human nature. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. (Not offered 2022-23).

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An exploration of trends in European philosophy since the Second World War. Movements covered may include phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, and posthumanism. Philosophers covered may include, among others, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, de Beauvoir, Levinas, Arendt, Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida. 1 unit (Not offered 2022-23).

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An in-depth study of an important period, idea, text or philosopher. Courses offered under this rubric will vary from year to year. 1 unit

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A study of one or more major texts by a single important philosopher. Possible texts for study might include, among others: Plato, Republic; Aristotle, Metaphysics; Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy and The Passions of the Soul; Spinoza, Ethics; Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature; Kant, Critique of Pure Reason; Heidegger, Being and Time; Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations.

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An advanced investigation into the nature of reality, this course will require students to consider the world in strange and challenging ways. Specific topics covered will vary, but may include: space and time, the existence and nature of God, causation, freedom and determinism, and the nature of persons. Readings will be from historical and contemporary sources. 1 unit (Not offered 2022-23).

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This course focuses on philosophical questions concerning knowledge and belief, for example, how beliefs are acquired and justified, the possible limits to knowledge, interactions among people with conflicting beliefs, and issues of epistemic justice. Readings will be from historical and contemporary sources. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement.

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An advanced investigation into pressing ethical issues we face today. Students will work to develop both nuanced understandings of the issues as well as their own positions on them. 1 unit (Not offered 2022-23).

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Examines works of influential recent or contemporary political philosophers, with a focus on debates raised initially by the works of prominent liberal theorist John Rawls. The concepts or topics discussed reflect concerns central to contemporary political philosophy: justice and liberalism, discourse and the public, equality and law, representation and diversity, sovereignty, and human rights, and capabilities and globalization. In addition to Rawls, authors discussed may include, Habermas, Sandel, Charles Mills, Iris Young, and Sen. (Not offered 2022-23).

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Investigates the radical interdisciplinary social philosophy that German scholars hostile to fascism developed by combining Marxist philosophy with Freudian psychoanalysis, in an effort to understand the promise and dangers of mass societies. The course addresses both the origins of critical theory and the more contemporary modernist and postmodernist variants. Authors discussed may include Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Althusser, Habermas, Foucault, and more recent thinkers.

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This 300-level, co-taught course brings together historical and philosophical methodologies to explore a rotating theme, such as: “African History and Philosophy,” “History and Philosophy of Science,” or “The Philosophy of History.” Although conceived as a cornerstone course for the History-Philosophy Major, all are welcome. Students may take the course more than once, if taught on a different topic. With approval from the student’s advisors, it may be used to satisfy the 300-level History-Philosophy course requirements listed under “Thematic Coursework.”

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An exploration of what the discovery of unconscious mental functioning means in relation to philosophical problems in ethics, philosophical psychology, social theory, and theory of meaning. The course is grounded in the work of Freud and may include such post-Freudians as Lacan, Cixous, Winnicott, Klein, and Kohut. Meets the Critical Learning: AIM requirement. Meets the Critical Learning: SHB requirement.

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Explores a range of theoretical attempts to explain the emotions and their place in human life. Emotions such as fear, anxiety, hope, love, and regret will be studied both for their own sake and as sources of insight into the nature of meaningful experience. Attention will be paid to the distinction between momentary passions and abiding affective dispositions, and to such questions as how emotions might be justified and what sort of cognition they involve.

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The most widely read and translated Japanese philosophers of the modern era, Nishida Kitarô and Nishitani Keiji flourished in the early through late twentieth century. Their distinctive school of thought builds upon both European and Asian sources in an effort to comprehend the fundamental character of experience, the limits of reason, and the possibility of overcoming nihilism.

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An interdisciplinary, primary-source based thesis on a subject of interest to the student and supervised by two faculty supervisors, one in Philosophy and one in History. Independent study format with regular consultation between the student and faculty supervisors.

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An examination of the work of a living philosopher, especially as this contemporary work relates to broader traditions and themes in philosophy. When possible, the philosopher in question will participate in the seminar.

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Independent study for advanced students who wish to do work supplementary to that offered in the Catalog.

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Independent study for advanced students who wish to do work supplementary to that offered in the Catalog.

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Year-long, extended format seminar for advanced students in philosophy centered on the work of the philosophy department's colloquium speakers and on the practice of philosophical discourse. Course emphasizes critical engagement with contemporary philosophical research. Pass/Fail Only. 1 unit

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An intensive individual exploration of a particular philosophical issue or problem in the work of one or more philosophers. Must be taken prior to Senior Seminar (PH 476). Arranged by the student and the department in Block 7 of the student’s junior year. 1 unit

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Revision and presentation of senior essays. Students collaborate in substantial revision of their essays and the development of oral presentations of their research. The course culminates in public presentations of the students’ work. Pass/Fail Only. 1 unit

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