My Topical Introduction To Philosophy catches up newcomers to philosophy by each week overviewing a major subfield of philosophy. Each week I rotate to another self-contained topic so students can join in at any time without worrying about having missed anything. Over the course of any given 16 week run of sessions we will overview Philosophy of Mind, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Personal Identity, Social Philosophy (Gender, Race, etc.), Logic, Philosophy of Religion, Aesthetics, Free Will and Determinism, Philosophy of Human Nature, Philosophy of Emotion, and Self-Interest.
For every topic, we explore the major questions, their practical relevance, and the major competing contemporary positions that philosophers hold. Then we engage in freewheeling, open-ended philosophical discussions of the topics for ourselves. As you work out your own thoughts on the week’s topic, I inform you of the ways that philosophers have developed arguments along similar lines or raised challenges to your views. Then I help you work out strategies for either overcoming objections or modifying your views to account for them. While inevitably some of the great philosophers throughout history will be discussed, this class is contemporary in its focus. It is meant to look at the current state of philosophical questions, rather than tell the story of how we got here. It is meant to complement, rather than significantly overlap with, my History of Philosophy class, which tells the story of philosophy from the ancients up through the 20th Century. While the History of Philosophy can serve as an introductory class that is more lecture oriented than any of my other classes, the Topical Introduction to Philosophy puts a greater accent on students working out their own take on the issues. There is no university credit for attending these class sessions. For more details on how my classes work in general, please see the FAQ. For more about me, see this page.
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