PHIL 101.001 – Introduction to Philosophy: Central Problems, Great Minds, Big Ideas

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Instructor: Ram Neta. This course meets MW 10:10 – 11:00 a.m. in  GS G200, with a recitation on Fridays.

Many people want to live a meaningful life.  But what is a meaningful life, and why is it worth wanting?  In this course, we will try to answer these questions.

Thankfully, we don’t have to answer them from scratch:  many philosophers have already tried to answer these questions, and we can get some help from them.  This is not to say that their answers are right – but even if their answers are not right, our own efforts to answer these questions will be improved by trying to figure out what these earlier philosophers got wrong, and what they got right.

It turns out that, in order to figure out what it is to live a meaningful life, we will need to figure out lots of other things – for instance, what is a good society?  What is a good person?  When is it right for one person to have authority over another person?  What is justice, and why is it a good thing?  What is freedom, and why is it a good thing?  And:  how, if at all, is it possible to figure out the answers to any of these questions?  Do these questions even have right answers, or is any response to them just as good as any other?