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Philosophy

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Major

Minor

Courses

Programs offered:

B.A. in Philosophy
Minor in Philosophy (TU)

Please consult the University Bulletin for degree requirements.

Philosophy, in the broadest meaning of this term, is the attempt to think clearly about the world and the place of human beings in it. This activity is a response to questions which arise because the various areas of human life, such as science, art, morality, and religion, often do not seem to be intelligible in themselves or to fit with one another. A philosophical world view, such as the philosophy of Plato or the philosophy of Descartes, represents an attempt to think through these difficulties and to arrive at a single, coherent vision of how reality is and how human beings should relate to it.

The study of philosophy is a noble and worthwhile activity in its own right for the enlightenment which it can provide about questions which should be of interest to everyone. It is important, however, that the philosophy major also be effective at imparting those general skills which are crucial for most professions.

The Philosophy department believes that graduates should be “humane generalists” with the intellectual adaptability which is needed to function successfully in changing and often unpredictable job situations. The Philosophy program accomplishes this goal by fostering those abilities of critical thinking and intellectual flexibility required in virtually any professional career. Philosophy students learn how to read and understand abstract and often very difficult arguments. They also learn to think critically and independently, to develop their own views and to express their insights in clear, articulate spoken and written prose. Such skills are important for almost any profession and are especially useful for business and law.

Philosophy courses need not be taken in a rigid sequence. Any philosophy course should improve a student's overall philosophical abilities and thereby strengthen the student's performance in any subsequent philosophy course. The courses are, however, classified by the difficulty of the reading involved and the amount of philosophical training and background which is advisable.

The following are possible courses offered in Philosophy:


PHI 101. Significance of Human Life - Western Responses 4 hours
This course introduces the student to Western philosophy through the question of whether human life as a whole has any ultimate meaning or significance outside of individual desires. This question will be considered by studying Ecclesiastes, The Book of Job, the philosophy of Socrates in Plato's Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, Lucretius,' On the Nature of Things, and Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.
 
PHI 102. Significance of Human Life - Eastern Responses 4 hours
Here the student is introduced to non-Western philosophy through a study of some Asian responses to the question of human significance. Students will study four thinkers who are different from one another but who are all important in the Asian intellectual tradition. By studying these four in some depth, students will be able to contrast their own Western philosophical background with something quite different from it. Students are encouraged but not required to take PHI 101 and PHI 102 as a two-semester sequence.
 
PHI 103. Logic 4 hours
This course is an introduction to both logical thinking and thinking about logic. It is divided into three parts: informal logic (a study of logical fallacies in thinking), formal logic (a primer to develop literacy in symbolic logic), and the philosophy of logic (exactly what is logic?).

Level II courses are for students who have some philosophical background, to the extent of at least one Level I course.
 
PHI 202. Contemporary Ethical Theory 4 hours
In this course, students will read several contemporary works concerning the nature of the ethical. Works will be drawn from both the analytic and the Continental traditions and an effort will be made to put the two traditions into dialogues with each other.
 
PHI 204. Plato 4 hours
This course is a study of the philosophy of Plato through a reading of his major dialogues. In addition to the "Socratic" dialogues, readings will include the Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, Republic, and Timaeus.
 
PHI 205. Aristotle 4 hours
This course is a study of the philosophy of Aristotle through a reading of his major works. Readings will include portions of the Logic, Physics, DeAnima, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics.
 
PHI 301. Philosophy of Art (Aesthetics) 4 hours
This course will attempt to trace the philosophic underpinnings of the movement within art toward non-representational art. The course begins with Kant's third Critique and includes readings by Hegel, Heidegger, Derrida, and several others. Students will also read several works by artists themselves, including Kandinsky, Francis Bacon, and Anselm Kiefer.
 
PHI 302. Knowledge and Skepticism (Epistemology) 4 hours
This course will cover various issues concerned with the nature and validity of human knowledge. The topics studied will include the distinction between knowledge and belief, arguments for and against skepticism, perception and our knowledge of the physical world, and the nature of truth.
 
PHI 303. Space, Time, and God 4 hours
This course examines our conception of the universe as a totality, both in its own nature and in relation to an external cause. We will consider whether space and time are "absolute" realities or only systems of relations among objects, whether they are finite or infinite, and whether or not there logically could exist space-time universes in addition to our own. The course will conclude with the question of whether our space-time universe is self-sufficient or requires an ultimate cause or explanation (God) outside of itself.
 
PHI 304. Philosophy of Mind 4 hours
This course involves the study of philosophical questions about the nature of human persons. Students will examine: 1) The mind-body problem - the nature of the mind and consciousness, and the relation of consciousness to physical processes within the body; 2) Personal identity - what makes a person one mind or subject both at a single moment and over time; and 3) Free will - the status of a person as a free agent and the relation of this freedom to the causally determined processes in the person's body.
 
PHI 305. Nietzsche 4 hours
In this course students will study the philosophy of Nietzsche through a reading of his major works, including The Birth of Tragedy, The Uses and Abuses of History for Life, Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, Twilight of the Idols, and The Anti-Christ. Students will also study some contemporary and influential readings of Nietzsche.
 
PHI 306. African Philosophy 4 hours
Taking African philosophy as a case study of post-colonial thought, students will study the African critique of traditional modes of philosophizing. The authors read will include Cesaire, Senghor, Sartre, Mudimbe, Appiah, Achebe, Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Victor Turner.
 
PHI 320. Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophers 4 hours
Intensive study of the thought of a single important philosopher or group of philosophers.
 
PHI 321. Special Topics in Philosophy: Philosophical Issues and Problems 4 hours
Studies of selected philosophical questions usually of special relevance to the present day have included courses such as Philosophy of History, War and Its Justification, and Philosophical Issues in Women's Rights.
 
PHI 322. Independent Study in Philosophy 1-4 hours
Supervised research on a selected topic. Prerequisite: Submission of a proposed outline of study that includes a schedule of meetings and assignments approved by the instructor, the division chair, and the Provost and Senior Vice President prior to registration.
 
PHI 323. Internship in Philosophy 1-4 hours
An internship is designed to provide a formalized experiential learning opportunity to qualified students. The internship generally requires the student to obtain a faculty supervisor in the relevant field of study, submit a learning agreement, work 30 hours for every hour of academic credit, keep a written journal of the work experience, have regularly scheduled meetings with the faculty supervisor, and write a research paper dealing with some aspect of the internship. Written work should total five pages of academic writing for every hour of credit. An extensive list of internships is maintained by the Career Services Office, including opportunities at the American Civil Liberties Union, the Georgia Attorney General's Office, and Georgia Justice Project. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisites: Permission of the faculty supervisor and qualification for the internship program.
 
POL 341. Political Philosophy I: Ancient and Medieval 4 hours
This is an examination of the origins of philosophical reflection on the fundamental issues of politics, which is designed to lead to the critical consideration of the political views of our time. Among the topics discussed are the relationship between knowledge and political power and the character of political justice. Portions of the works of Aristophanes, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and Alfarabi are examined. Prerequisite: COR 201 or permission of the instructor.
 
POL 342. Political Philosophy II: Modern 4 hours
This is a critical examination of the peculiarly modern political and philosophical stance beginning where Political Philosophy I concludes. Among the authors discussed are Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, and Kojeve. Prerequisite: POL 341 or permission of the instructor.

Level III courses are the most difficult and challenging and are for students who have significant philosophical background, to the extent of at least one or two Level II courses.
 
PHI 401. The Philosophical Response to the Scientific Revolution 4 hours
This course is a study of the philosophical systems of Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz. Each of these philosophies is an attempt to come to terms with the scientific picture of the world which had been given to the West by Copernicus and Galileo. The course begins with the materialist philosophy of Hobbes, followed by Descartes' dualistic (between mind and matter) view of the created world, and then considers Spinoza's pantheistic monism and Leibniz's idealistic atomism as responses to the difficulties in the Cartesian philosophy.
 
PHI 402. Kant's Critique of Pure Reason 4 hours
A study of Kant's theoretical philosophy, his "metaphysics of experience," through a reading and analysis of his major work. An attempt will be made to discover which portions of Kant's philosophy can be accepted as valid and true in the light of present-day philosophy and science.
 
PHI 403. Heidegger's Being and Time 4 hours
This course involves a close and patient reading of one of the most important and difficult works of Continental philosophy. An effort will be made to avoid speaking "heideggerianese" and to translate the dense language of the text into a way of speaking accessible to students.
 
PHI 404. Contemporary French Philosophy 4 hours
It has been argued that the most provocative developments in the current development of German philosophy have been the French readings of now classic German writers such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger, to name a few. Students will attempt to test this thesis by reading some representative and challenging texts. The authors studied may include Bataille, Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida, Althusser, Blanchot, and others.

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