Selected Topics in Philosophy (PHIL*3350)
Term: Winter 2015
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics has long been recognized as one of the most profound and enduring studies of human nature ever written. Central to Aristotle’s study is the idea that human beings have natural capacities, but that their healthy development does not happen “by nature,” but requires, instead, cultivation. Human fulfillment is thus fundamentally dependent upon developing good character and for this we are dependent upon education. For the first half of the semester, we will study this marvellous book, reflecting in some detail on what it takes to live a happy and healthy life—courage, self-possession, friendship, etc. We will then turn, in the second half of the course, to the 20th Century American philosopher John Dewey, whose writings strongly develop these central Aristotelian themes. Through study of his books Democracy and Education and Art as Experience, we will especially study matters of education, politics and art, and what role these play in human fulfillment.
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