[Honors] Introduction to Philosophy and Literature
The goal of this class is to introduce students to the history of Western philosophy. We will do this by addressing serious philosophical issues in ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, existentialism, and social and political philosophy. We will address questions ranging from "What is right?" to "Does our identity remain the same over time?" to "What is reality?" to "What can we really know?" to "How do we create meaning in our lives, given that we are creatures capable of suffering greatly?" to "How has society systemically excluded the Other?" and "Will racism ever end?" Finally, there will be time in the second semester to research a topic that interests you in any of the following topics: social/political philosophy, philosophy of race, philosophy of religion, metaphysical issues in free will and determinism, and philosophical critiques of artificial intelligence.
- What are the sources of ethics?
- What is right? What is wrong?
- What is good?
- What is the difference between value and dignity?
- "The Objective Basis of Morality" - Thomas Nagel
- The Gorundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals [excerpts] - Immanuel Kant
- Principles of Legislation [excerpts] - Jeremy Bentham
- "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" - Ursula K. Le Guin
- Objection to philosophical argumentation through thought experiments
- What is metaphysics?
- Do we remain the same over time?
- What constitutes a person's 'identity'? An object's 'identity'?
- John Locke
- Thomas Reid
- Derek Parfit
- John Perry
- Bernard Williams
- Journal response and presentation based on thought experiments
- Application of your fellow classmates theory of personal identity to a film
- What is reality?
- Why is skepticism problematic?
- What is the 'soul'?
- Republic [excerpts] - Plato
- Apology - Plato
- Phaedo - Plato
- What is 'knowledge'?
- How do we justify beliefs?
- Meditations on First Philosophy [Meditations I-III] - Descartes
Existentialism and Meaningfulness
Suffering and Existence
- Given that we suffer, what ought are attitude be towards life?
- What can suffering teach us, if anything?
- Friedrich Nietzsche
- Emil Cioran
- Arthur Schopenhauer
- Collaborative presentation about author
- Individual 'Graduation Speech' parody
Meaningfulness and Life
- How do authors define 'nihilism'?
- What gives our lives meaning?
- Simone de Beauvoir
- Jean Paul Sartre
- Hubert Dreyfus
- Susan Wolf
- Argumentative philosophy essay arguing for what constitutes meaning in life
Race, Justice, and Society
- Will racism ever end?
- How has society excluded the Other?
- Derek Bell
- Charles W. Mills
- Angela Davis
- James Baldwin
- Panel presentations on issues of justice