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Spring 2016 Courses
Philosophy 200-01A: Informal Logic (2 credits)
In this class, we will look at some basic ideas in informal logic, with an eye to how those principles are applied in our everyday language. We will consider what it mean to say of an argument that it is valid, or sound, or fallacious. Toward the end of the course, we will also consider some philoosophical quandaries that have persisted throughout much of our history and oncsider how logic might aid us in solving them. These may include topics on issues suchas the death peanalty, abortion, sexual ethics, free will and determinism or other based on class interest. We will also learn some very basic steps in propositional logic and how to apply them to our real-world reasoning.
This half-semester course will satisfy the departmental logic requirement for majors and minors. It also may be of some use to those who plan to take standardized tests such as the LSAT.
Philosophy 230-01, 230-02: Ancient Philosophy
Philosophy is traditionally understood as the "love of wisdom" or the quest for meaning. In this sense, philosophy addresses what might be called the "big questions" of human existence: Who am I, and what is real? What is the source of my existence and the existence of the world? What is my purpose and how ought I to live in order to achieve it? How can we achieve happiness as individuals and as a society? What is happiness and what is a just society? What is the best way to answer these questions in order to acquire knowledge? Can we acquire knowledge? What is knowledge? In this course we will look at the history of philosophy in the West from its australian online pokies inception in ancient Greece to its development in the Europe of the High Middle Ages. Our general aim will be to engage ideas that were formed in what seems a distant past, yet which still influence the ways we understand ourselves and our reality. Although we may not always share the views of the philosophers we study, we can alwyas learn from their attempts to discover meaning and to live meaningfully.
This course fulfills Cultural Heritage I.
Philosophy 232 Modern Philosophy - A Geography of Evil, Suffering, and Hope
The modern period in the West has seen tremendous scientific, technological, and medical progress. Furthermore, the 19th and 20th centuries have seen dramatic developments in the political and social realms with respect to individual freedoms, civil rights, and womne's rights. Yet even with the very real "progress" that has occurred over the past centuries, the 20th century is now recognized as the bloodiest century in human history with the rise of totalitarianism and the emergence of genocide and ethnic leansing.
What might be some of the facotrs that have contributed both to the very positive changes in modern life as well as the existence of "darker" dimensions in human existence? How might we begin to consider the presence of evil among us, both at a larger social level and at a more personal level? How might we start to work with the realities of pain, loss, and suffering, again both for larger communities and for us as individuals? What, if anything, might suffering have to teach us? How might we try to live our lives in the midst of such troubling concerns, and where might we look to find in the sadness of these realities?
All are welcome. No speical background for participation in the class.
This course fulfills Cultural Heritage II.
Philosophy 241: Philosophies of India and Tibet
This course is an introduction to the philosophical traditions of India and Tibet. We will be concerned primarily with the classical te3xts of these traditions - The Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, The Hindu and Buddhist Sutras - as well as the systems of thought they produced. Since in most cases these are considered sacred texts, philsophy and religion are not easily distinguished in Indian and Tibetan thought. So many of the ideeas we will consider will have spiritual as well as philosophical significance. Issues to be explored include the nature of the divine, ultimate reality, the self, happiness, ethics, the just society, knowledge and spiritual liberation. We will also consider more recent representatives of these traditions, such as Mohandas Gandhi in India and the contemporary political and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama. Comparison to Western philosophical and religious conceptions wil lbe made where appropriate.
Philosophy 320: Knowledge and Belief
Do you know anything about the things that matter to you? Or are you in the end, just ignorant? Suppose I ask where you're going. You tell me you're going to the bank. I ask, "do you know whether it's open? I thought it closed earlier than this." At that point, you'll recognize that it's a good thing to know this bit of information, in stead of to waste your time in ignorance. This sort of question might get you thinking about broader questions: What does it take to know something - what would you have to do to count as knowhing who your true friends are - to really know instead of merely to suppose? And anyway, just why do we want knowledge? We don't want to be ignorant. On the contrary, all of us, "by nature, desire to know," as Aristotle says in his Metaphysics. But why?
What are the sources of knowledge? Maybe the five senses? I know that the door's open because I look at the door. But now I wonder: how could I know that the angles of any Euclidean triangle add up to 180 degrees? I do not seem know this by virtue of having measured with my eyes and hands the angles of all triangles. How, then, do I know it?
What are the subjects of our knowledge? People say they know in their heart that Jesus loves them. Could belief that Jesus loves us amount to knowledge(?) or would it have to be faith as opposed to knowledg(?) or could it be both knowledge and faith? Many bigwig philosophers, scientists, and others, insist that so-called "religious knowledge" is not knowledge at all: it is not even rational. We will examine the merit of such claims in detail.
Philosophy 325 Philosophy of Mind
The nature of the human mind has long been a focus of philosophical and popular interest: nothing is more central to our understanding of who we are than our understanding of the mind, and nothing is more central to the philosophical thought of recent years than the philosophy of mind. This course introduces the fundamental philosophical issues currently associated with the mind. It does so partly through introductory level material and partly through the reading of important articles by the leading philosophers in the area. We will treat such central topics in the philosophy of mind as the relation of mind to body, wheter the mind can be understood in purely physical terms, the nature of consciousness, and whether computers provide us with the proper model for understanding the mind. We will also address the related question of free will. Class discussion of these issues will be encouraged: any lecturing will serve mainly to guarantee shared understanding of the readings and to set the stage for conversation about them. Students will be asked to evaluate the wide variety of different views in this area and will be given the opportunity to respond to what they study by working toward their own understanding of what the mind is.
This course counts towards neuroscience minor.
Philosophy 345: Ethics
At least since Plato, moral philsophers have attempted to address the question "Why should I be moral?" In recent years, this question has been posed in new ways that have prompted philosophers to delve into human psychology and the nature of our reasons for action. In this course we will analyze contemporary statements of the problem and survey various responses. We will wrestle with several related questions about the character of morality along the way: Are moral truths best understood as truths that existenet independently of agents? Does science conflict with the idea of moral truths? What is the source of the authority of moral demands? How does morality motivate action? Is there any connection between morality's ability to motivate us and its authority over us? The course will consis partly in lecture, but will allow plenty of time for discussion.