This course will delve into attempts to answer the Big Questions of existence, knowledge, and morality from the perspective of human reason rather than faith (or, as the Greeks had it, logos instead of mythos). Students will learn about major philosophical thinkers and ideas to encourage critical thinking, self-reflection, and the examination of ideas often taken for granted. They will begin by exploring the way major topics of inquiry were identified in classical Greece, and how those topics came to dominate the western philosophical tradition. The course will then delve into the philosophy of religion, including the various attempts to prove the existence of God, and the explanations for the existence of evil in the world. Students will then move to the study of moral philosophy, in particular the ideas of Mill and Kant, as well as the various critiques of their ideas, in order to better understand the development of moral and political frameworks that inform our lives, both on an individual and societal level. After analyzing the response to Kant by German idealists, primarily Hegel, students will dive into the Marxian tradition, and conclude the course with the major trends of late 19th century and 20th century philosophy, primarily existentialism.
Open to all seniors, and to juniors with permission of the Department Chair.