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TOPICAL INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

My Topical Introduction To Philosophy class catches up newcomers to philosophy with a wide array of philosophical concepts and some of the major figures in the history of philosophy. We study philosophical approaches to the Existence of God, Free Will and Determinism, the Mind/Body Problem, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language, Social Philosophy (Gender, Race, etc.), Logic, and Epistemology. Reserve your spot now for the new sections of Topical Introduction to Philosophy which start the first week of September 2014. Click on the course and class time you want in order to register yourself now. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com if you need help.  

ETHICS

My Ethics class runs the full gamut of philosophical ethics, regularly alternating between highly relevant immediate impact issues in applied ethics to more foundational philosophical questions about the very nature of morality and about whether there is any hope for rational and objective answers about ethical questions. A partial list of topics that will be covered from numerous angles includes:
  • what it means to live a good life
  • how we should understand the natures of various virtues and vices
  • how we should determine what legitimately binding moral rules are
  • what makes for a good person and/or a good action
  • how we should deal with the problems that cultural relativism poses to moral legitimacy
  • what the proper roles are for the emotions, pleasure, autonomy, social relationships, consequences, and other moral factors in our best moral reasoning
  • the interactions between religion, atheism, death, meaning, and ethics
  • whether, or in what ways, we might say morality is real or unreal, objective or subjective, a matter of transcendent truth or of cultural or individual construction, etc.
  • whether there can be such a thing as moral knowledge and, if so, how it might prove itself.
  • the nature of moral language and whether it even intends to refer to facts or whether it aims at something wholly different.
  • the meaning and ethical value or disvalue of power
  • how we should go about resolving difficult moral dilemma cases
  • how we should make moral sense of findings in contemporary moral psychology
  • how we should understand the relevance of nature (including the fact that we are products of evolution) to our understanding of who we are and what our ethics should be
  • how we might answer difficult contemporary “applied ethics” problems that arise in modern society that concern gender, sexuality, technology, medicine, sexual ethics, business ethics, social change, social justice, race, political philosophy, war, religion, criminal justice, animal rights, political economy, drugs, punishment, etc.
  • ethical problems related to current events stories
Reserve your spot now for the new sections of Ethics which start the first week of September 2014. Click on the course and class time you want in order to register yourself now. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com if you need help.   NIETZSCHE
My Nietzsche course draws heavily on my years reading and writing about Nietzsche in preparation of my doctoral dissertation. As an orientation, new students receive a special overview lecture on Nietzsche’s philosophy that integrates his thoughts on numerous topics into a coherent overall picture. Regular class sessions are spent reading Nietzsche’s writings aloud and discussing them. Using this method, in the once weekly, year long versions of the course, we read substantial portions of numerous of his Nietzsche’s works, one book at a time, over the course of a year or longer.
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PHILOSOPHY FOR ATHEISTS
Philosophy for Atheists is a flexible course, responsive to student interests, which has three primary objectives it meets. (1) It introduces major topics in philosophy in a way accessible to philosophical novices. (2) It overviews important areas of historical philosophy that generally educated people should be familiar with. (3) It analyzes major issues in theology and philosophy of religion from an openminded, but generally skeptical, atheistic perspective and trains students hoping to engage with theists in counter-apologetic ideas and strategies. Essentially this is a hybrid between a general philosophy course, a historical philosophy course, and an atheistic philosophy of religion course. Reserve your spot now for the new sections of Philosophy for Atheists which start the first week of September 2014. Click on the course and class time you want in order to register yourself now. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com if you need help.     PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND LANGUAGE
My Philosophy of Mind and Language class is the one most focused on contemporary philosophy. It will deal almost exclusively with the 20th-21st Century study of the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, primarily in the analytic tradition. We will start with seminal figures like Russell, Frege, and Wittgenstein, but devote most of the course to the hottest philosophy of mind and language debates of the last 40 years. We will also make room for at least a couple of weeks on the European traditions of Phenomenology, Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Deconstructionism, all of which were ascendent in the last century. Specifically, we will explore questions related to
  • semantics
  • the nature of reference
  • the nature of consciousness
  • what kinds of mental capacities animals might have
  • the connection between mind and body
  • the extent our minds are or are not like computers
  • whether artificial intelligence can be ever have a mind or consciousness
  • whether or not there is such a thing as a universal mental language
  • whether or to what extent concepts and linguistic categories are innate
  • the relationships between our mental states and the world they try to represent
  • what constitutes the kind of mental freedom necessary to make moral responsibility legitimate
  • the meaning and relevance of concepts like belief, desire, and pain
  • the connections between concepts and the world
  • the extent to which language can be said to “create” the world for us, rather than merely represent it to us
  • whether or how science could conceivably understand the inner mental life
  • whether our “folk” understandings of our inner life based on subjective experience can form the basis of knowledge of psychology or whether it is irrelevant and needs to be supplanted with an entirely different and empirically derived set of categories
  • the connections between language and logic
  • the relevance of philosophy of language to understanding moral utterances about things like goodness or badness, rightness or wrongness, etc.
  • the relevance of philosophy of language to understanding religious beliefs
  • the connections between language and concepts
  • how speech acts create social meanings and how social meanings transform propositional statements into speech acts
Reserve your spot now for the new sections of Philosophy of Mind and Language which start the first week of September 2014. Click on the course and class time you want in order to register yourself now. Write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com if you need help.     SOCIAL AND POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
In my Social and Political Philosophy we explore both classic and contemporary texts related to the foundations of a just society. We will philosophically analyze a wide range of social and political topics, per student interest. Potentially topics could including the natures of democracy, rights, justice, liberty, equality, oppression, international relations, individual/state relations, state/society relations, libertarianism, socialism, social justice, concepts of race and racism, concepts of gender and sexuality, feminism, LGBT issues, secularism, criminal justice, terrorism, controversies in sexual ethics (polyamory, prostitution, pornography, et al.), business ethics, biomedical ethics (euthanasia, abortion, et al.) and the ethics of war.
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My Philosophy of Religion class addresses the philosophical issues that religions raise. This course is designed to give both believers and non-believers a detailed and nuanced understanding of the best arguments for and against the existence of God, and for the truth of theistic religions. The course also examines the nature of religion itself and whether atheistic religions are possible or worthwhile endeavors. Topics in ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, biblical studies, and political philosophy all arise at one point or another as part of addressing issues in the philosophy of religion.
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My History of Philosophy class explores the story of Western philosophy all the way from the pre-Socratic philosophers to the 20th Century. In this course I chronologically explain the major ideas and relevance of the major philosophical schools and figures from each major period in the history of Western Philosophy: Ancient Philosophy (the Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics), Medieval Philosophy (Augustine and Aquinas), Modern Philosophy (Rationalism, Empiricism, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkely, Hume, and Kant), the 19th Century (German Idealism, Fichte, Hegel, Marx, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche), and the first half of the 20th Century (The Rise of Analytic Philosophy, Pragmatism, Logical Positivism, Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Postmodernism, Russell, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida, Foucault, and Levinas).
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