20th-Century philosopher Wilfrid Sellars famously defined philosophy as follows:
“The aim of philosophy, abstractly formulated, is to understand how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term. Under 'things in the broadest possible sense' I include such radically different items as not only 'cabbages and kings', but numbers and duties, possibilities and finger snaps, aesthetic experience and death. To achieve success in philosophy would be, to use a contemporary turn of phrase, to 'know one's way around' with respect to all these things, not in that unreflective way in which the centipede of the story knew its way around before it faced the question, 'how do I walk?', but in that reflective way which means that no intellectual holds are barred."
(“Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man,” 1960)
In this course, we will explore questions basic to human experience in order to clarify, challenge and deepen our engagement with the beliefs and commitments we bring to our lives as beings capable of reflective thought and action. Some authors whose work we will examine include Thomas Aquinas, Iris Marion Young, Daniel Dennett, Harry Frankfurt, René Descartes, Aristotle and Susan Wolf.
This course’s graded content includes two short and two medium-length written assignments as well as class participation, which consists of group presentations and individual contributions to in-class and online discussions of the assigned material.