Spring 2014 Courses

2012 Undergraduate Honors students with their advisors, arranged in traditional congratulatory photo format.


Listed below are the courses the Department plans to offer in the Sping 2014 quarter. This course list may change.

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

Note: College students may only enroll in courses whose first number is 2 without prior permission from the instructor. A College student who has secured prior permission to sign up for a course from the instructor may, in that case and only in that case, enroll in a course whose first number is larger than 2.

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

Note: Letters A and B refer to undergraduate field designations; Roman numerals I-V refer to graduate field designations.

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Forthcoming: If you click on the image or link below, you will find an enlargeable image of a chart which perspicuously represents the weekly meeting times of our Spring 2014 Courses. Once the chart has opened in a new window, you can enlarge the image to whatever size you like in order to make it easier to read.

Spring Courses at-a-glance - PDF

Open to Undergraduates

PHIL 21000. Introduction to Ethics. In this course, we will read, write, think, and talk about moral philosophy, focusing on two classic texts, Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism.  We will work through both texts carefully, and have a look at influential criticisms of utilitarianism and of Kant's ethics in the concluding weeks of the term. This course is intended as an introductory course in moral philosophy. Some prior work in philosophy is helpful, but not required. (A) A. Ford.

PHIL 22820. Philosophy and Public Education. (=UTEP xxxxx, PLSC 22825) This course will critically survey the various ways in which philosophy curricula are developed and used in different educational contexts and for different age groups.  Considerable attention will be devoted to the growing movement in the U.S. for public educational programs in precollegiate philosophy. R. Schultz.

PHIL 25403. Psychoanalysis and Feminism: Freud, Lacan, Klein, Winnicott and Their Feminist Interlocutors. (=GNSE 27202) What can psychoanalysis teach us about human psychological development in general and human sexual development in particular? Can the development of both men and women be captured in one general psychoanalytic framework or are two different explanatory schemes required? How has psychoanalysis evolved since Freud in the way it accounts for femininity, women’s psychological development and the role of the mother in her child’s development? In this course, we will examine leading psychoanalytic accounts of human development, as well as feminist critiques and applications of these accounts. In the first part of the course, we will study some of Sigmund Freud’s classical texts which deal with sexual development, while discussing the relations between repressed ideas, bodily symptoms and the talking cure, as well as the seduction hypothesis, infantile sexuality and the Oedipal Complex. We will also consider some of Freud’s late writings about female sexuality and femininity, as well as early critiques by Karl Abraham, Karen Horney, and Helen Deutsch regarding Freud’s views on feminine development. In the second part of the course, we will discuss Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic account of human development, focusing on his characterization of both pre-Oedipal development and the Oedipal Complex. We will then examine three leading French feminist accounts: Simone de Beauvoir’s attempt to reconcile femininity and agency, Luce Irigaray’s critique of Freud and Lacan and her own account of feminine subjectivity, and Julia Kristeva’s use of the semiotic and her alternative account of the pre-Oedipal period. In the third part of the course, we will examine key psychoanalytic ideas from the object relations theories of Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott, while paying close attention to their emphasis on the mother’s role in child development. We will then study Nancy Chodorow’s incorporation of object relations into feminist theory in her well-known book The Reproduction of Mothering, as well as more recent applications of Kleinian and Winnicottian ideas to feminist theory. N. Ben Moshe.

29200/29300-01. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: What is a “Science of Logic” for Hegel? Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. This course is designed to introduce students to the philosophical aims and method of Hegel’s Science of Logic. Hegel often referred to the Logic as his most important work; by providing Hegel’s account of certain fundamental concepts—his concept of the concept, his account of self-consciousness and pure knowledge, and his idea of “absolute method”—the Logic serves both as a statement of what, for Hegel, philosophy is and, at least in a certain sense, as the ground upon which his philosophical system rests. Unfortunately, however, the Logic also has a strong claim to being Hegel’s most difficult work. We will attempt to ameliorate this difficulty a bit by beginning with an oblique approach to the text that situates it in its philosophical context. Specifically, we will seek to understand the Logic as a response to a determinate set of philosophical concerns that Hegel took himself to find in Kant—an approach to the text that is  made possible by the fact that Hegel himself evidently understood the Logic not only as the culminating text of his own philosophical system, but also as the culmination of a philosophical project inaugurated by Kant.

In particular, we will develop the relationship between Hegel’s “speculative logic” and Kant’s “transcendental logic” by examining three lines of thought in Kant: 1) Kant’s account of spontaneity (and of the relationship between understanding and sensibility) in the B-Deduction of the First Critique; 2) Kant’s transcendental idealism as it is presented and motivated in certain passages of the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Dialectic; and, 3) Kant’s treatment of the idea of an “intuitive understanding” in §77 of the Critique of the Power of Judgment. Any one of these topics could rightly be the subject of its own course, but of necessity our concern here will be to focus narrowly on the difficulties and insights that Hegel himself finds in them. (Our narrow focus also means that prior familiarity with Kant’s philosophy will not be presupposed).

In the latter half of the course, we will approach the Logic directly. We will orient ourselves by beginning with selections from the introductory materials (as well as a few of the concluding passages) of both the Encyclopedia Logic and the Science of Logic. These are the places in the text that contain Hegel’s most explicit reflections on his philosophical aims and methodology. From there, we will dive into the thick of the text and examine (as “case studies”) Hegel’s treatment of the progression from teleology to life to cognition. T. Evnen.

29200/29300-02. Junior/Senior Tutorial. Topic: Logic and Thought.
Meets with Jr/Sr section. Pre-requisite: Open only to intensive-track majors. No more than two tutorials may be used to meet program requirements. How does logic relate to thought? A course in Elementary Logic teaches us formal methods of evaluating arguments, but does it purport to tell us anything about how we actually reason?  Through a discussion of central issues in the philosophy of logic, this course will explore ways in which this question may receive a positive answer. We will concern ourselves particularly with the kind of philosophy of mind that logicians like Frege and Wittgenstein took themselves to offer.   
The course has four parts. We will start by looking at the conception of logic advocated by Frege and Wittgenstein, according to which logic is primarily concerned with thought, its structure, form, uses and laws.  In the second part of the course, we will ask whether puzzles which beset formal logic must also plague thought, inasmuch as the later is understood as endowed with logical form. We will then try to capture what is unique in the concern of logic with thought by contrasting it with the kinds of concern that science, in particular psychology, has. Finally, we will look at two other approaches to the relation of logic and thought which differ markedly from the one we developed so far, and contrast their virtues with what we will call the constitutive conception of logic.   G. Nir.

29700. Reading Course. Consent of Instructor & Director of Undergraduate Studies; Students are required to submit the college reading & research course form. Staff.

29902 -01, 02, -03, -04. Senior Seminar II. PQ: Consent of director of undergraduate studies. Note(s): Required of fourth-year students who are writing a senior essay.  Students writing senior essays register once for PHIL 29901, in either the Autumn or Winter Quarter, and once for PHIL 29902, in either the Winter or Spring Quarter. (Students may not register for both PHIL 29901 and 29902 in the same quarter.) The senior seminar meets all three quarters, and students writing essays are required to attend throughout. M. Kremer, Staff.

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Open to Graduates and Undergraduates

PHIL 21225/31225. Critique of Humanism. (=ENGL 12002/34407) This course will provide a rapid-fire survey of the philosophical sources of contemporary literary and critical theory.  We will begin with a brief discussion of the sort of humanism at issue in the critique—accounts of human life and thought that treat the individual human being as the primary unit for work in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences.  This kind of humanism is at the core of contemporary common sense.  It is, to that extent, indispensable in our understanding of how to move around in the world and get along with one another.  That is why we will conduct critique, rather than plain criticism, in this course: in critique, one remains indebted to the system under critical scrutiny, even while working to understand its failings and limitations.  Our tour of thought produced in the service of critique will involve work by Hegel, Marx, Gramsci, Freud, Fanon, Lacan, and Althusser. We will conclude with a couple of pieces of recent work that draws from these sources.  The aim of the course is to provide students with an opportunity to engage with some extraordinarily influential work that continues to inform humanistic inquiry. C. Vogler.

PHIL 21425/31425. Karl Marx’s Theory of History.  (=FNDL 21504) This course will investigate the theory of human history developed by Marx and Engels - Historical Materialism, as it came to be known. Though we will primarily focus on texts by Marx and Engels, we will begin by considering some of Hegel’s writing on history, and we will end by looking at different attempts to explain, apply, and develop the theory within the Marxian tradition. (A) (IV)   A. Ford.

PHIL 21511/31511. Forms of Philosophical Skepticism. The aim of the course will be to consider some of the most influential treatments of skepticism in the post-war analytic philosophical tradition—in relation both to the broader history of philosophy and to current tendencies in contemporary analytic philosophy. The first part of the course will begin by distinguishing two broad varieties of skepticism—Cartesian and Kantian—and their evolution over the past two centuries (students without any prior familiarity with both Descartes and Kant will be at a significant disadvantage here), and will go on to isolate and explore some of the most significant variants of each of these varieties in recent analytic philosophy.  The second part of the course will involve a close look at recent influential analytic treatments of skepticism. It will also involve a brief look at various versions of contextualism with regard to epistemological claims.  We will carefully read and critically evaluate writings on skepticism by the following authors: J. L. Austin, Robert Brandom, Stanley Cavell, Thompson Clarke, Saul Kripke, C. I. Lewis, John McDowell, H. H. Price, Hilary Putnam, Barry Stroud, Charles Travis, Michael Williams, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This will be an advanced lecture course open to graduate students and undergraduates with a prior background in analytic philosophy. (B) (III) J. Conant.

PHIL 21700/31600. Human Rights I: Philosophical Foundation. (= HMRT 20100/30100, HIST 29301/39301, LLSO 25100, INRE 31600, LAWS 41200, MAPH 40000) Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I). D. Holiday.

PHIL 21714/31714. Aristotle on Practical Wisdom. In this class we are going to study and critically discuss fundamental components of Aristotle’s ethics, concentrating on wisdom and its role in the practice of the other virtues. Does Aristotle improve on the intellectualist assumptions made by Socrates? What is his conception of practical rationality, what teleologies does it involve? What is the place of practical reason in human nature? Does Aristotle give an adequate account of the difference between technical reasoning on the one hand and deliberation with a view to acting on the other? How do reasons / motives affect the ethical quality of conduct? How are individual virtues of character related to patterns of motivation? How do the wise know how to act? Spring. A. Mueller.

PHIL 24005/34005. Partial Information in the Theory of Meaning. (NOTE: This course will take place during the last 8 weeks of the quarter).Language is for imparting information, but it is equally a tool for communicating ignorance. This course aims to do three things: (i) introduce some of the more well-known ways that what we say depends upon uncertain or incomplete information, (ii) survey some basic tools for representing uncertainty and show how they can fit into a general semantic theory, and (iii) push the boundaries on aims (i) and (ii). A. Gillies.

PHIL 24716/34716. Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra(=SCTH 37316). In this seminar and a second seminar to be taught in 2015 I shall present a new reading of Nietzsche’s most famous work. Thus Spoke Zarathustra combines philosophy and poetry, wisdom and prophecy, solitude and politics, speech and deed, preaching in riddles and parody of the Gospel. The work is a challenge to faith in revelation and a task for philosophical interpretation. In the spring of 2014 I shall interpret books I and II. Books III and IV I shall teach in the spring of 2015. This procedure may be justified in light of Nietzsche’s own procedure: He published each of the books before the following book was written and in fact without announcing that one, two or even three books would follow the first one. I shall use the English translation by Graham Parkes, Oxford World’s Classics (ISBN 0199537097). Those who can read the text in German should know that I use the Colli/Montinari edition (Kritische Studienausgabe, Bd. 4, DTV, ISBN 3423301546). The seminar will take place in Foster 505 on Monday/Wednesday, 10:30am-12:50pm during the first five weeks of the term (March 31-April 30, 2014). H. Meier.

PHIL 26006/37303. The Early Modern Mind. This course will study topics in philosophy of mind in the writings of various figures from the early modern period. Topics to be discussed may include: theories of ideas, representation, consciousness, and affects (or passions). (V) A. Schechtman.

PHIL 28202/38202. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. (=SCTH xxxxx) Our goal in this course will be to read through and understand at least the first five chapters of Hegel’s revolutionary book. Main topics will include Hegel’s new conception of philosophy and philosophical methodology, his agreements and disagreements with Kant, and the nature of self-consciousness. Undergraduates should have some background in philosophy; a knowledge of Kant would be especially helpful. The course is also open to Master’s and PhD graduate students. (V) R. Pippin.

PHIL 29406/39406. Algebraic Logic and Its Critics: The History of Logic from Leibniz to Frege. The study of logic in the second half of the 19th century was dominated by an algebraic approach to the subject. This tradition, as exemplified in George Boole’s Laws of Thought, aimed to develop a calculus of deductive reasoning based on the standard algebraic techniques employed in mathematics. In this course, we will trace the historical development of the algebraic tradition in logic, beginning with the early attempts of Leibniz to formulate a calculus ratiocinator. We will consider the various systems of algebraic logic developed in the 19th century in the works of De Morgan, Boole, Jevons, Peirce, and Schroder, and conclude by examining Frege’s critique of Boole’s system in relation to Frege’s own Begriffsschrift. (B) (II, V) M. Malink, A. Vasudevan.

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Open to Graduate Students

PHIL 40405. Topics in Logic. This class will look at old and new attempts to develop formal theories of the concept of truth. After a presentation of the paradoxes of disquotation, we will do a fairly close reading of Tarski's 'The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages'. We will follow this with a close examination of Kripke's formal theory of truth, and will then look at Hartry Field's recent work on truth and the liar paradox. If time permits, we will briefly survey some other modern approaches, including those that revolve around the idea of so-called 'indefinite extensibility' (Glanzberg et al.) (II) K. Davey.

49700. Workship: Preliminary Essay. PQ: All and only philosophy graduate students in the relevant years. A two-quarter (Spring, Autumn) workshop on the preliminary essay required for all doctoral students in the Spring of their second year and the Autumn of their third year. The workshop involves discussion of general issues in writing the essay and student presentations of their work. Although students do not register for the Summer quarter, they are expected to make significant progress on their preliminary essay over the summer. M. Kremer.

49900. Reading & Research. Staff.

PHIL 51200. Workshop: Law and Philosophy: Life and Death. (=LAWS 61512, RETH 51301, HMRT 51301, PLSC 51512, GNSE 50101) PQ: Students are admitted by permission of the two instructors.  They should submit a c.v. and a statement (reasons for interest in the course, relevant background in law and/or philosophy) to the instructors by e mail.  Usual participants include graduate students in philosophy, political science, and divinity, and law students.  This is a seminar/workshop many of whose participants are faculty from various related disciplines.  It admits approximately ten students.  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. Most sessions are led by visiting speakers, from either outside institutions or our own faculty, who circulate their papers in advance.   The session consists of a brief introduction by the speaker, followed by initial questioning by the two faculty coordinators, followed by general discussion, in which students are given priority. Several sessions involve students only, and are led by the instructors.    Students write a 20-25 page seminar paper at the end of the year.  The course satisfies the Law School Substantial Writing Requirement.   There are approximately four meetings in each of the three quarters.  Students must therefore enroll for all three quarters. Autumn, Winter, Spring. M. Nussbaum, S. Conly.

PHIL 51412. “I-Thou and the Subject of Psychoanalysis". (=SCTH xxxxx) An attempt to locate psychoanalytic theory and practice within the philosophical and religious contexts of "I-Thou" relationships. Readings from psychoanalytic thinking on the nature of the psychoanalytic relationship (for example, Loewald, Stone, Freud, Lacan) as well as contemporary philosophical work on second-person relations (Michael Thompson, Sebastian Rödl, Stephen Darwall), and on certain Jewish philosophers (Rosenzweig, Levinas). J. Lear, M. Stone.

PHIL 53306. Language and Self-Consciousness. (=SCTH xxxxx) (III) D. Finkelstein, I. Kimhi.

PHIL 55911. Aristotle's Politics. A close reading of this important work of ethical and political theory.  Among the topics we will discuss: the relation between the individual and the political community; the relation between private associations and the public, political community; civic virtue; the role of the political community in moral development; slaves and other marginal members of the political community; and the possibility of virtue and happiness in degenerate regimes. (IV) G. Lear.

PHIL 57605. Layer-Cake vs. Transformative Conceptions of Human Mindedness. The Layer-Cake Assumption has many philosophical guises. In its guise as a thesis about the nature of our cognitive faculties and their relation to one another, it goes like this:  The natures of our sentient and rational cognitive capacities respectively are such that we could possess one of these capacities, as a form of cognition of objects, without possessing the other. The underlying assumption is that at least one of these capacities is a self-standing cognitive capacity – one which could operate just as it presently does in us in isolation of the other. Beginning with Kant, it became important to certain philosophers to show that the Assumption forms a common ground of philosophical views thought to be fundamentally opposed to one another – such as Empiricism and Rationalism. The Empiricist Variant of this guise of the Assumption might be put as follows: Our nature as sensibly receptive beings, in so far as it makes a contribution to cognition, represents a self-standingly intelligible aspect of our nature.  The Rationalist Variant enters such a claim on behalf of the self-standingly intelligible character of our intellectual capacities. In particular areas of philosophy – such as epistemology, metaphysics,  the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of action, and the philosophy of self-knowledge – each of these variants assumes a more determinate guise, while continuing to hold the fundamental assumption in place. Our first concern will be to isolate, compare, and contrast the various guises of this assumption and their manner of operation both across the history of philosophy and across different areas of contemporary philosophy. Our second concern will be to consider what it would be to reject the assumption in question and what the philosophical consequences of doing so are. Our third concern will be to explore the views of a number of different authors who do seek to reject it and to assess which of these attempts, if any, are philosophically satisfactory. Readings will be from Elizabeth Anscombe, Aristotle, Matthew Boyle, Robert Brandom, Gareth Evans, David  Finkelstein, Anton Ford, Christopher Frey, Immanuel Kant, Andrea Kern, Chris Korsgaard, C. I. Lewis, John McDowell, Richard Moran, Sebastian Roedl, Moritz Schlick, Wilfrid Sellars, David Velleman, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others. (III) J. Conant.

59950. Workshop: Job Placement. This workshop is open only to PhD Philosophy graduate students planning to go on the job market in the fall of 2012.  Approval of dissertation committee is required. Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter. Pass/Fail. G. Lear.

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