PHIL 54.001 – FYS: Thinking About Time

Text:
Increase font size
Decrease font size

Instructor: Gillian Russell. This course meets MW 3:35 – 4:50 p.m. in CW 103.

What is time? Do the past and the future exist, or only the present? Is the “flow of time” an objective feature of reality, or is it just an illusion created by the way we humans experience the world, which is static and changeless in itself? Is it conceptually possible to change the past, and if not, then why not? Is time travel a logical possibility? In this course, we will examine both historical and contemporary attempts to grapple with these problems (and related ones), and will do some grappling on our own. We will consider philosophical literature from 2500 years ago to the present day, and will briefly consider the impact of Einstein’s theories of relativity on these problems (at a very introductory level). Students will analyze historical arguments concerning these problems, produce arguments on their own, and collaborate in writing philosophical dialogues. Individually, each student will write six short papers, each with a different format. Working in pairs, the students also will write dialogues in which an issue discussed in the reading will be debated. They will present these dialogues in class, and each dialogue will be used as the basis of a discussion.