Making Sense of Ourselves (PHIL 112.001)

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Instructor: Gregory Salmieri. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m. in New East 102.

Man has traditionally been defined as “the rational animal,” and reason’s role in human life has been a recurrent theme in philosophy, science, and literature from Ancient Greece to the present. In this course we will explore reason’s role in life by reading and discussing works of fiction (including Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground, and Rand’s Atlas Shrugged) and extracts from the works of such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Hume, Kant, and Marx.

Issues addressed will include: the role of reason in the production of the material goods we need to survive, the relation between reason and emotion, what role reason can and does play in guiding our actions, the role of reason in morality, and the relation between reason and sense-perception.

The course is introductory in that it will not presuppose any prior philosophy classes, but be forewarned that it will be very reading intensive: approximately 100 pages of reading will be assigned on an average week. (Students interested in the course but concerned about this reading load, might consider beginning the three works of fiction mentioned above prior to the beginning of term.)

Gregory Salmieri’s webpage