Theoretical Ethics: The Nature of Moral Judgments

Theoretical Ethics aims to uncover the sources of moral knowledge and the foundations of moral obligation. You will engage in a detailed reading of two classical moral theories and study contemporary interpretations and applications of these theories. You will be expected to contribute substantially to class discussion, write two essays and present a draft of your final essay to the class.

The Philosophy of Democracy

The very idea of democracy is contested in both our understanding of what democracy is and the grounds on which it is thought to be politically and morally valuable. This course examines the philosophical roots of the concept, evaluates arguments for and against democracy and re-examines the democratic ideal in the light of the challenges of cultural difference, national aspiration and economic globalization.

The Human Condition: Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a major political theorist whose work has become increasingly influential in recent years. A student of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, her extensive writings cover such topics as the nature of power, the meaning of the political and the problem of totalitarianism. This seven-week course is a critical exploration of some of her major works, including The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

Philosophy & Biography: Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein is one of the most influential and important of twentieth century philosophers and one of its most enigmatic characters. In this course you will read two of Wittgenstein’s central works, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations. We will arrive at a detailed understanding of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, its themes, arguments and development. Alongside this philosophical journey you will read various biographies, memoirs, and fictionalized biographies of Wittgenstein’s life as well as viewing Derek Jarmen’s film on the life of Wittgenstein. We will examine the connection between Wittgenstein’s life and his philosophy.

Philosophy of Home, Food and Gardens

Western philosophy has always been concerned with the domestic – where we live, what we eat and how we construct and view our landscapes. This course traces and critically examines philosophical debates, ancient, modern and contemporary, engaging the aesthetic, the ethical and political dimensions of the domestic.

Philosophy of Love and Friendship

Arthur C. Danto remarks, “How incorrigibly stiff philosophy is when it undertakes to lay its icy fingers on the frilled and beating wings of the butterfly of love.” There is something both true and false in this remark. The philosopher cannot, as the poet can, convey the particularities of a love lived, suffered and enjoyed, but romantic love and friendship are an aspect of our practical moral lives and in this respect a proper object of philosophical concern. This course brings together some of the most lively and passionate writings by philosophers on the topic of romantic love and friendship. Students will consider various definitions and descriptions of love and friendship from Plato to Freud. Students will examine the connection between morality and love and between love and the political, reading the writings of philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Kant, Marcuse and De Beauvoir.

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