Sex, Love and Friendship (PHIL*1030)
Code and section: PHIL*1030*01
Term: Winter 2019
Instructor: John Russon
We all have to deal with jobs, government, illness, nutrition and so many other things in our lives, and many of those things are difficult and, indeed, burdensome. Our interpersonal relationships, on the other hand, are our main source of happiness, fulfilment and pleasure, and we rely on our friendships, our sexual and our romantic relationships to make our lives meaningful. In this course, we will think philosophically about what these kinds of relationships are really about, why they matter, and how to handle them. We will begin (until Reading Week) with a focus on sexuality, especially focusing on the relationship between the powerful cultural images that shape our expectations and the personal significance that sexual relationships have for us; here we will take our primary orientation from John Berger’s contemporary book Ways of Seeing and the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s famous dialogue Symposium. After Reading Week, we will begin with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle and his deeply insightful writings on the nature of friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics, and then turn to the Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and his studies of love of and sexuality in Being and Nothingness. Along the way, we will also read a number of shorter essays on related topics, most of which will be discussed in the weekly (mandatory) tutorial sections.