Seminar: Philosophy & the Arts

Course Offerings - Summer 2006
Phil 3000-01
Phil 3000-02
Phil 3000-04
Phil 3000-05
Phil 3320-01
Seminar: Philosophy & the Arts - C1
What makes a work of art, art? What is so special about da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? Why do we
consider Warhol’s Brillo Boxes a work of art, but not ordinary Brillo boxes? This course will
cover these questions, and those related to the meaning and value of art. We will examine
whether or not we can (and should) provide an essence to art, and if so, what would that
essence be? We will find the challenges an individual faces in judging and interpreting art,
and what we as members of the audience are doing and assuming when we experience art.
Finally, we will explore the relation of art to nature, as well as the moral value and
consequences of art, and how morality relates to our appreciation of a work of art.
Seminar: Sex/Love/Philosophy - C1
This course will look at the nature of love: the role of physical attraction for love, distinctions
among love, sex, infatuation, obsession, and friendship, gender differences in the conception of
love and sex, and the various views on promiscuity, perversion, marriage, adultery,
monogamy, and homosexuality. The broad topic of philosophy of sex has been found, in one
way or another, throughout the history of philosophy. From Plato's Symposium, Epictetus' The
Discourse and Manual, and Aquinas' On the Truth of the Catholic Faith, through Hume, Kant,
Bentham, Mill, Marx, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche up to contemporary feminism and gender
studies, sex and love have been discussed, analyzed, dissected, dismissed, and celebrated. As
the authors of Philosophy and Sex point out, if the unexamined life is not worth living, and if
sex and love are an undeniable part of that life, then how can the philosopher not include them
as topics for philosophical scrutiny?
Seminar: God/Death/Life - C1
What is the meaning of life? Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? Must there be a God or an
afterlife in order for life to be meaningful? What is the meaning of life from an atheistic
perspective? As for death, is it something to be feared? Does it rob life of meaning? Why is
death so bad, anyway? These are the sorts of questions that will be asked and, with a bit of
luck, answered in this course.
Seminar: Moral Psychology - C1
Do you think of yourself and others as honest, compassionate, and generous? Some
philosophers and psychologists want to reject the idea that people possess robust character
traits (e.g., honesty, compassion) and want to argue, instead, that people's moral (and immoral)
behaviors are largely a result of situational influences. Others want to hold onto the notion that
people can possess character traits that lead them to act consistently virtuous, regardless of
situations. This class will review the empirical and philosophical literature on both sides of the
debate – come see which side you end up agreeing with the most!
Eastern Thought – C1
Take a journey to the East and explore the central philosophies and religions of Asia,
as we examine four particular religions – Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, Taoism,
and Mahayana Buddhism – and focus on the philosophical significance of these
religions. Class discussions will stress analysis of readings and important
philosophical concepts that arise from our Eastern exploration and how they apply to
our lives at home in the West.
Major and Minor information can be found on the Philosophy web site at:
or by contacting the Philosophy Department at 766-3204, Hoyt Hall, Rm 325
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