Spring 2018

Format alternates between lecture (L) (with questions and answers!), “workshops” (W) where we collectively try to construct some argument in the reading, and critical discussion (D) of the issues.

See the bottom of the page for assignments, and notice you have to do three out of three short papers nos. 1-8. You can download the class syllabus here. The schedule on this page is more up-to-date.

Schedule

Tuesday, January 30th Introduction
Thursday, February 1st Descartes’ project and dualism (L, W) [recap]
  • Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, I-II
Tuesday, February 6th First proof of the existence of god, error and freedom (L) [recap]
  • Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, III-IV
Thursday, February 8th Mind and body (W, D)
Tuesday, February 13th Proof of the external world (L, W) [recap]
  • Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy, V-VI
short paper no. 1 due
Thursday, February 15th Mind and body, continued (W, D) [recap]
Friday, February 16th Condillac’s empiricism (L) [recap]
  • Condillac, Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, Part I, Sections 1-2.8, pp. 11-53
Tuesday, February 20th Condillac on complex ideas (L) [recap]
  • Condillac, Essay on the Origin of Human Knowledge, Part I, Sections 2.11-5, pp. 63-100
short paper no. 2 due
Thursday, February 22nd Condillac (D)
Tuesday, February 27th The ethical problem of society (L) short paper no. 3 due
Thursday, March 1st continued (W, D) [recap]
Friday, March 2nd continued (D) [recap]
Tuesday, March 6th A social contract (L) [recap]
  • Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book I, ch. 1-7
  • Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book II, ch. 1-4
  • Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book IV, ch. 1-3 and 8-9
short paper no. 4 due
Thursday, March 8th continued (D)
Tuesday, March 13th Rousseau’s failure (W, D) [recap]
  • Rousseau, Rêveries of the Solitary Walker, VI
short paper no. 5 due
Thursday, March 15th continued (D) [recap]
Tuesday, March 20th Bergson on duration (L, W) [recap]
Thursday, March 22nd (continued) (W, D) [recap] short paper no. 6 due
Tuesday, March 27th Bergson on the two selves (L, W) short paper no. 7 due
Thursday, March 29th (continued) (D) [recap]
Tuesday, April 3rd Kojève (L) [recap]
  • Kojève, Introduction to the Reading of Hegel, pp. 3-30
Thursday, April 5th How Beauvoir uses Kojève (D) [recap] short paper no. 8 due
Tuesday, April 10th Introduction to French existentialism (L, W) [recap]
  • Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, pp. 17-23
  • Sartre, Being and Nothingness, Part I, ch. 2, §I-II, pp. 47-67
Thursday, April 12th continued (D) draft of final paper due on Saturday, April 14th
Tuesday, April 24th Sartre on freedom [recap]
  • Sartre, Being and Nothingness, Part IV, ch. 1, §II, “Freedom and Factivity: The Situation”, pp. 481-489
Thursday, April 26th The problem of existentialist ethics (W, D) [recap]
  • Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, pp. 23-54
  • Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, ch. 2, first few pages until “…because of the vitality which emanated from him.”
peer comments due (upload the usual way)
Friday, April 27th (T) Beauvoir's answer (L, W) [recap]
  • Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, ch. 2, picking up from “If we were to try to establish a kind of hierarchy among men,…” until “…the importance of that universal, absolute end which freedom itself is.”
Thursday, May 3rd Beauvoir (W, D)
  • Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, the rest of ch. 2
Friday May 11th Review session at 2pm, room 401 as usual final paper due (upload the usual way)
Monday May 14th Office hours 12-3pm, room 611
Tuesday May 15th Final exam 3-4:30pm

Assessment components

Three short papers (1000 words, 15% of the grade each) on assigned topics, out of eight possible choices, including

  • at least one of the first four assignments,
  • at least one of the last four assignments.

Topics will be posted on Tuesdays, and papers will be due the following Tuesday.

A 2000-word final paper (25%) on a topic of your choice, for which you will

  • write a draft (due on April 10th),
  • give comments on one of your (anonymous) peers' paper (due on April 24th)
  • turn in a revised paper, taking into account my and your peer's comments (due on May 11th)

A final exam (May 15th or 17th), consisting of paragraph-length answers to questions (20%).

Participation in class (10%).