Introductory Philosophy: Major Texts (PHIL*1000-01)
Term: Fall 2013
The world of ideas is one of the most exciting areas of human study. In this course we will look at some of the most provocative and world-changing ideas in human history. We will begin with a substantial study of philosophy in ancient Greece - the birthplace of the practice we call "philosophy". Our readings from Plato and Aristotle will explore the distinctive nature of human being, and consider the essential place of the human being in relation to nature and culture. These ideas continue to form much of our basic understanding of both freedom and nature. From ancient Greece, we will turn to Early Modern Europe and the time of the "Scientific Revolution". Here we will look at the ideas of Rene Descartes and John Locke, who challenged central aspects of the ancient view of humanity, and whose ideas about knowledge and politics, respectively, laid the cornerstone for modern science and modern democracy. We will conclude with a study of contemporary philosophy, focusing especially on the thought of Michel Foucault, whose work studies the political and psychological problems that have emerged through the very project of modernity launched in Descartes and Locke.
This course will have two components - a weekly lecture in which you will be introduced to these ideas and their broader context, and a weekly discussion section in which you will engage in a more focused study of the texts in a more intimate session.
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