Classic Thinkers (PHIL*1000) | College of Arts

Classic Thinkers (PHIL*1000)

Code and section: PHIL*1000*01

Term: Fall 2022

Instructor: John Russon


Course Delivery:

This course will meet in person.  The course has a weekly lecture component plus a required weekly seminar component.

Lectures: MW 11:30-12:20
Seminar time varies by section: Make sure you take note of your seminar time!

Course Synopsis:

The history of philosophy is the collection of the great works in which human cultures have collected their insights about the world and our place in it: it is the history of human wisdom.  We will read a selection of the most powerful and influential of these works, beginning in Asia about 2500 years ago with the discourses of the Buddha, and ending with Audre Lorde’s critique of the racism and sexism of contemporary capitalist culture from the 1970s.  With the Buddha and the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca, we will study first the distinctive struggles human beings face in trying to lead good lives and identify the key practices that lead to psychological health.  We will broaden our study of human nature by turning next to the medieval Muslim philosopher Ibn Khâldun and his explanation of the distinctive processes by which human societies develop, flourish and decline, and the way these political transformations shape our experience as individuals.  We will then turn to Descartes and his analysis of the distinctive human powers that gave rise to the scientific revolution and, with it, our modern human world.  We will conclude our study with works by John Berger and Audre Lorde, who explore ways in which our modern culture, despite its claims to equality of rights for all, is deeply exploitative of women and others, and is premised on an unhealthy interpretation of our human nature.

Required Texts:

Early Buddhist Discourses, trans, Hollander (Hackett)
Seneca, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, trans. Hadas (Norton).
Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, trans. Rosenthal, abridged by Dawood (Princeton)
Descartes, Discourse on Method and Meditations on First Philosophy, (Hackett)
Berger, Ways of Seeing, (Penguin)

Please note:  This is a preliminary web course outline only.  The Philosophy Department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description.  The final, binding course outline will be distributed in the first class of the semester.