Autumn 2006 Courses


Josef Stern in discussion with graduate students in philosophy.

 

Listed below are the courses the Department offered in the Autumn 2006 quarter.

The Registrar's office has up to date scheduling information for all University of Chicago graduate and undergraduate courses.

College students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 2. Graduate students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 3 or higher.

Autumn Courses

20100/30000. Elementary Logic Open to college and grad students.
Course not for field credit An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic: valid and invalid argument, logical relations among sentences and their basis in structural features of those sentences, formal languages and their use in analyzing statements and arguments of ordinary discourse (especially the analysis of reasoning involving truth-functions and quantifiers), and systems for logical deduction. Throughout, we are attentive to both general normative principles of valid reasoning and the application of these principles to particular problems. Time permitting, the course ends with a brief consideration of set theory. Jason Bridges. Autumn 2006.

20600/30600. Philosophy of History: Historical Explanation Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Third- or fourth-year standing. See History offerings in the College Catalog. (B) Robert Richards. Autumn 2006. (II)

21202/31202. Spiritual Exercises & Moral Perfectionism Open to college and grad students.
A number of philosophers have recently proposed a new way of approaching ethics (and of reconceiveing the task of philosophy) that focuses on exercises of self-transformation and ideals of moral perfection (sometimes conceived of as forms of wisdom). A distinctive set of notions, such as spiritual exercises, practices of the self, ways of life, the aesthetics of existence, the care of the self, conversion, and moral exemplarity, is meant to displace the picture of morality as primarily a code of good conduct. We shall study three contemporary authors who are central to reviving this way of thinking about ethical practice - Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault, and Stanley Cavell. Their work will be read against the background of some classic texts in the history of philosophy in an attempt to uncover the historical tradition and the contemporary significance of this conception of the moral life. (A) Arnold Davidson. Autumn 2006. (I)

21202/31202. Spiritual Exercises & Moral Perfectionism Open to college and grad students.
A number of philosophers have recently proposed a new way of approaching ethics (and of reconceiveing the task of philosophy) that focuses on exercises of self-transformation and ideals of moral perfection (sometimes conceived of as forms of wisdom). A distinctive set of notions, such as spiritual exercises, practices of the self, ways of life, the aesthetics of existence, the care of the self, conversion, and moral exemplarity, is meant to displace the picture of morality as primarily a code of good conduct. We shall study three contemporary authors who are central to reviving this way of thinking about ethical practice - Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault, and Stanley Cavell. Their work will be read against the background of some classic texts in the history of philosophy in an attempt to uncover the historical tradition and the contemporary significance of this conception of the moral life. (A) Arnold Davidson. Autumn 2006. (I)

21810/31810. Resemblance and Family Resemblance Open to college and grad students.
This course will critically examine and explore the possibility of forms of unity and their representation that do not fit into any of the categories of representation traditionally allowed for by philosophers -- such as the category of singular representation (such as intuitions or definite descriptions) or general representation (such as concepts or diagrams). The three main authors who explore the possibility of such anomalous forms of unity and their representation that we will discuss will be the German poet, philosopher and scientist, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the British psychologist, naturalist and theorist of photography, Francis Galton, and the Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. (A) James Conant. Autumn 2006. (I)

*Special note: Subtitled: Goethe, Galton and Wittgenstein. Co-taught with Joel Snyder

23400. Philosophy of Mind and Science Fiction Open to college students.
Could computers be conscious? Might they be affected by changes in size or time scale, hardware, development, social, cultural, or ecological factors? Does our form of life constrain our ability to visualize or detect alternative forms of order, life, or mentality, or to interpret them correctly? How do assumptions of consciousness affect how we study and relate to other beings? This course examines issues in philosophy of mind raised by recent progress in biology, psychology, sociology, cognitive anthropology, and simulations of life and intelligence, with readings from philosophy, the relevant sciences, and science fiction. A secondary aim of the course will be to address the question: what makes a good thought experiment, and when can fiction play that role? (B) William Wimsatt. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Graduate Credit by special arrangment only.

24001/34001. Meaning Open to college and grad students.
Analysis of various conceptions of meaning, primarily with reference to natural language, and related notions such as analyticity, synonymy, intentionality, and intensionality, and of the philosophical uses of meanings, e.g., to ground claims of truth, necessity, and a priori knowledge. Readings may include Frege, Carnap, Quine, Kaplan, Grice, and Davidson.(B) Josef Stern. Autumn 2006. (III)

24101. Kierkegaard: Either/Or Open to college students.
This seminar will be a careful reading of Kierkegaard's classic text. Among the topics we shall consider are: the ethical life and its relation to the aesthetic life; the relation of both to the religious; the nature of pseudonymous authors. This course is restricted to majors in Fundamentals and Philosophy. (Others should register only with permission of the instructor). (A) Jonathan Lear. Autumn 2006.

24801/34801. 18th and 19th Century Philosophy of Religion Open to college and grad students.
This course focuses on the 18th century philosophical challenge to rational religion, and on the most important 18th and 19th century responses to that challenge. Writers to be examined include Hume, Kant, Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard.(A) Daniel Brudney. Autumn 2006. (I)

25000. History of Philosophy - I: Ancient Philosophy Open to college students.
Prerequisites: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. Gabriel Richardson Lear. Autumn 2006.

29200/29300. Junior/Senior Tutorial Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Open only to philosophy majors. Title: "Introduction to the Philosophy of Mathematics" his course introduces several of the main themes of twentieth century philosophy of mathematics. Among the questions we shall address will be: What is the ground of mathematical knowledge, and what is mathematics about? What is the relationship between intuition and mathematical proof? What is the scope of logic, and the relationship between logic and mathematics? Are numbers objects and is it possible to define them? Our primary text will be Gottlob Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic, but we will also look at Kant's philosophy of mathematics and at recent papers by, e.g., Paul Benacerraf, George Boolos, Crispin Wright, and W. V. O. Quine. The course will conclude with a critical examination of contemporary `neo-logicism'. Staff TBD. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Taught by Thomas Lockhart. Seniors should register for this course as PHIL 29300

21202/31202. Spiritual Exercises & Moral Perfectionism Open to college and grad students.
A number of philosophers have recently proposed a new way of approaching ethics (and of reconceiveing the task of philosophy) that focuses on exercises of self-transformation and ideals of moral perfection (sometimes conceived of as forms of wisdom). A distinctive set of notions, such as spiritual exercises, practices of the self, ways of life, the aesthetics of existence, the care of the self, conversion, and moral exemplarity, is meant to displace the picture of morality as primarily a code of good conduct. We shall study three contemporary authors who are central to reviving this way of thinking about ethical practice - Pierre Hadot, Michel Foucault, and Stanley Cavell. Their work will be read against the background of some classic texts in the history of philosophy in an attempt to uncover the historical tradition and the contemporary significance of this conception of the moral life. (A) Arnold Davidson. Autumn 2006. (I)

21310. Moral Responsibility Open to college students.
This course will be a study of the nature of responsibility in morality and law. We will first and for the most part focus on contemporary philosophical accounts of moral responsibility. These divide into accounts that treat responsibility as the consequence of a psychological or personal capacity that one can understand independently of the social practices by which we hold people responsible for their actions and accounts that take those practices as necessary to any understanding of responsibility. In examining the latter we will take up responsibility as it is treated in the criminal law and compare this treatment with everyday attributions of responsibility for wrongdoing. (A) Visiting Professor. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Taught by visiting professor John Deigh.

22000/32000. Introduction to the Philosophy of Science Open to college and grad students.
This course will serve as an introduction to philosophical questions about the epistemology and methodology of science. The central goal of the course will be to try and understand in what sense it is right for us to think of science as a rational response to our observations. To this end, we will look at historical figures such as Popper and Kuhn, and will examine such topics as the problem of induction, confirmation theory, and whether or not our observations underdetermine our theories. (B) Kevin Davey. Autumn 2006. (II)

29200/29300. Junior/Senior Tutorial Open to college and grad students.
Prerequisites: Open only to philosophy majors. Title: "Philosophy as Humanism and Antihumanism" In this course our basic question will be: should we understand philosophy as an endeavor that starts from, and privileges, our perspective as human beings, pondering questions that pertain to our desires and goals (especially ethical goals such as the "good life," or a transformation of one's self)? Or should we instead regard philosophy as a thinking that tries to give up our perspective, refuses to see us as a privileged kind of being (for example, because we alone are moral or rational), and aspires to some more fundamental viewpoint? But can we even imagine what it would mean to think "outside" the human perspective, without regard to values? Throughout the history of philosophy-and especially with the rise of modern science-philosophers have made such attempts, striving for non-anthropocentric philosophical frameworks, whether naturalist, scientific, logicist, historical, or structuralist. We'll look at the most influential variations of this crucial debate using texts ranging from ancient to contemporary philosophy (Plato, the Stoics, Descartes, Montaigne, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Russell, Althusser, Foucault, Churchland) Staff TBD. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Taught by Karolina Hübner. Seniors should register for this course as PHIL 29300

29600. Junior Seminar Open to college students.
Prerequisites: Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive concentration program. Topics for this small, discussion-oriented seminar vary. Daniel Brudney. Autumn 2006.

31250. Texts of Indian Modernity: Rabindrath Tagore's Writings Open to grad students and college students with consent of instructor.
The course will look at a selection of Tagore's writings in English translation, focusing on those themes which have gained a new relevance in the light of post colonial debates on universalism and cultural particularism, the politics of nationalism and gender in modern times. It will offer a mix of philosophical writings (Religion of Man), novels (Ghare baire or Home and the World and Jogajog or Relationships), short stories ( The Wife's Letter and The Exercise Book ) and political essays ( Nationalism ). It will also offer a few poems from The Crescent Moon and a play, The Post Office. The readings would be framed within four or five critical writings on Tagore and his historical-political context. Martha Nussbaum and Tanika Sarkar . Autumn 2006.

50100. First-year Seminar Open to grad students.
Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to first-year graduate students. David Finkelstein. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Meets in Autumn and Winter quarters

50500. Non-Discursive Representation from Goethe to Wittgenstein Open to grad students.
The seminar will be on the topic of non-discursive representation in the history of German thought from Kant to Wittgenstein. The topic emerged as a central issue on the intellectual agenda of post-Kantian philosophy, aesthetics, and scientific theory in response to considerations put forward by Kant in two notoriously difficult paragraphs, 76 and 77, of his Critique of Judgment (1790). In this series of dense reflections, Kant tries to refine and clarify his earlier distinction between discursive understanding and what he, again, alternately refers to as an "intuitive understanding" or an "intellectual intuition" ,-- types of cognition which, although thinkable (and perhaps attributable to a divine intellect), are not available to human intellect. These pages of Kant's, intended to establish the inevitability of his earlier distinction between two mutually exclusive forms of representation, had the opposite effect: his characterization of a kind of thinking not supposed to be possible for humans, instead proved immensely suggestive to subsequent generations of philosophers, poets, and scientists, starting with Goethe, who sought to characterize the fundamental sort of insight to which their own endeavors aspired. This pivotal Kantian demarcation -- between discursive representation and intuition -- is vigorously contested in the work of the major idealist philosophers who endeavored to think beyond Kant's strictures on human cognition. The seminar will run for two quarters, Fall and Winter. James Conant. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Sawyer seminar co-taught with David Wellbery. Students who wish to enroll most do so for both quarters. There will be presentations by outside visitors every other week, including Michael Fried, Andrea Kern, John McDowell, and Sebastian Roedl -- to name only a few. Field V.

51001. Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism Open to grad students.
Prerequisites: A minimum prerequisite is an undergraduate major in philosophy or the equivalent course work in philosophy. What is a nation, and why might it be appropriate to be attached to one's own nation in a special way? Are there any good reasons why we should not always have equal concern for all human beings and seek to promote their good equally? (And who has the burden of proof here, the cosmopolitan or the defender of local loyalties?) If there are such reasons, do they give us reason to make the nation special, rather than to focus on other, frequently narrower, loyalties, such as those to one's family, ethnic or religious group, sports team? Why did Marcus Aurelius say that his first lesson in being a good person was "not to be a fan of the Greens or Blues at the races, or the light-armed or heavy-armed gladiators at the circus"? Why did Sir Walter Scott say that a person who lacks patriotic emotion for his own native land "living shall forfeit fair renown/And, doubly dying, shall go down/To that foul hell from whence he sprung,/Unwept, unhonored, and unsung?" Why did Wilfred Owen say, of the better man of the future, "He wars on Death -- for Life/Not men -- for flags."? How is each philosophical position linked to a distinctive understanding of the good man and of manly virtue? What is patriotic emotion, and how is the apparently benign emotion of love of country linked to other more problematic emotions, such as anger, fear, the sense of humiliated masculinity, etc.? We will pursue these questions by reading a wide range of philosophical authors who have addressed the topic. Martha Nussbaum. Autumn 2006. (I)

*Special note: Enrollment limited to 25. Permission of the instructor required, and this should be sought in writing (e mail) by September 20.

51200. Seminar: Law & Philosophy Open to grad students.
This is a seminar/workshop most of whose participants are faculty from seven area institutions. It admits approximately ten students by permission of the instructors. Its aim is to study, each year, a topic that arises in both philosophy and the law and to ask how bringing the two fields together may yield mutual illumination. There are ten to twelve meetings throughout the year, always on Mondays from 4 to 6 PM. Half of the sessions are led by local faculty, half by visiting speakers. The leader assigns readings for the session (which may be by that person, by other contemporaries, or by major historical figures), and the session consists of a brief introduction by the leader, followed by structured questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion. Students write either two 4-6 page papers per quarter, or a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year. The course satisfies the Law School Writing Requirement. The schedule of meetings will be announced by mid-September, and prospective students should submit their credentials to both instructors by September 20. Past themes have included: practical reason; equality; privacy; autonomy; global justice; pluralism and toleration; war. The theme for 2003-4 will be Sexuality and Family. Likely speakers to be invited include: Emily Buss, Mary Anne Case, William Eskridge, Martha Fineman, David Halperin, Andrew Koppelman, Martha Minow, David Novak, Susan Moller Okin, Fran Olsen, Kenji Yoshino. Martha Nussbaum. Autumn 2006. (I)

*Special note: This course is co-taught by Cass Sunstein. It meets over three quarters.

51510. Reasons and Practical Rationality Open to grad students.
The seminar will be a study of different theories of reasons for action. The theories we will study all have as their basic tenet that the ability to act on such reasons is what makes someone a rational agent. And the main questions of the study will be how to understand this ability as a normative power and whether it can also be so understood consistently with understanding actions as events in the natural world. (I) Visiting Professor. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Taught by visiting professor John Deigh

53900. Workshop: Wittgenstein Open to grad students.
Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. This Workshop meets over three quarters. James Conant. Autumn 2006.

54801. Heidegger's Being and Time Open to grad students.
This course will be an advanced graduate seminar, and will actually focus on Division Two of Being and Time; so students should already be quite familiar with the first division (especially chapter 5); and prior study of the second division will be a serious asset. My aim is to nail this stuff down. John Haugeland. Autumn 2006.

55400. Plato's Protagoras Open to grad students.
This dialogue contains important arguments about whether virtue can be taught, for the unity of the virtues, and against the possibility of weakness of will as well as a bizarre interlude of literary criticism. We will examine them all. This is one of Plato's liveliest dialogues, so we will need to discuss how to take account of the dramatic features of the dialogue in a philosophical interpretation. Gabriel Richardson Lear. Autumn 2006.

55500. Plato's Republic I Open to grad students.
Prerequisites: his is a graduate seminar designed for Ph.D. students in Philosophy and the Committee on Social Thought. (Others require permission of instructor for enrollment.) . We shall read the Republic carefully over two quarters, along with a plethora of contemporary essays on issues raised in the text. Among the topics we shall consider are: the formulation of human psychology in the Republic and its relation to the metaphysics. The aim of philosophy. The aim of constructing a city in thought and conversation. This is a graduate seminar designed for Ph.D. students in Philosophy and the Committee on Social Thought. (Others require permission of instructor for enrollment.) Jonathan Lear. Autumn 2006. (IV)

56000. Workshop: Early Modern Philosophy Open to grad students.
The purpose of the workshop is to provide a space for discussion of early modern philosophy among faculty and advanced graduate students, to bring to campus scholars working on innovative ideas, and to discuss relevant crucial and difficult texts.The workshop meets on alternate Fridays at 10:30 in the philosophy seminar room. For further details email Yitzhak Melamed (ymelamed@uchicago.edu) Yitzhak Melamed. Autumn 2006.

56801. Spinoza Open to grad students. The seminar is an in-depth study of Parts 2 and 3 of Spinoza's Ethics. Discussion will focus on the following topics: the nature of thought, the doctrine(s) of parallelism, mind-body identity, the constitution of individuals, Spinoza's physics, error and its sources, holism, the three kinds of knowledge, the doctrine of the conatus, Spinoza's theory of the affects. The first week of the seminar will be dedicated to an overview of Spinoza's metaphysics (in order to bring aboard those who are not acquainted with Part 1 of the Ethics). Yitzhak Melamed. Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Area assignment (V)

58600. Workshop: Continental Philosophy Open to grad students.
Meets over three quarters. Arnold Davidson. Autumn 2006.

59000. Workshop: Philosophy of Mind Open to grad students.
The aim of this workshop is to serve as a focal point at the university for research and discussion in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of psychology. We'll pursue this aim in three ways: (1) by reading and discussing recent texts the exemplify central themes in the contemporary literature; (2) by providing a forum in which graduate students can present and receive feedback on their own work; and (3) by hosting a series of presentations by prominent philosophers of mind, psychologists, and specialists in related fields. Likely topics of conversation include: the relation between concepts and perceptual experience, self-knowledge, mental causation, and naturalism. David Finkelstein and Jason Bridges . Autumn 2006.

*Special note: Meets over three quarters.