Philosophy

Courses

 Below you will find a list of our current or recent offerings. See the course catalog for descriptions and updated information.

  • 18-104 Selected Introductory Topics
    Topics chosen introduce students to philosophical questions and methods in relation to historical or contemporary issues and often from an interdisciplinary perspective. May be repeated with change in topic. (H)
  • 18-114 Education, Culture & Power
    An examination of the role and functions of education at an individual and a social level, the place of philosophy within education, and the ways in which both can speak to dilemmas and issues in the contemporary world. Particular attention will be paid to the roles education plays in perpetuating or challenging key aspects of contemporary society and culture, such as consumerism, meritocracy, and hierarchies of class, gender and race. (H)
  • 18-124 Latina/o Identities
    This course explores the formation of Latina/o identities in the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. Our discussions will be devoted to articulating the experience of latinas/os from these intersections, and the kinds of social, cultural, and political projects and activism that emerge from it. We will focus on works by Linda Alcoff, Gloria Anzald a, María Lugones and Junot Díaz, among others. Also Feminist Studies 04-134 and Race and Ethnicity Studies 37-124. (H)
  • 18-134 Philosophy, Race & Revolution
    This course is oriented around the Haitian Revolution, the only successful slave revolution in history, examining the ways in which it both reflected and responded to the internal contradictions of Western philosophy's developing notion of race and the colonial mission and, on the other hand, its new universalist vision of human rights. How slave revolt exploded this contradiction from within, what its historical and theoretical effects were, and the ways in which related tensions rose again in the wave of anti-colonial revolutions in the 1960s and '70s will be the main focus. We will also consider the rise of postcolonial and decolonial theory in those revolutions' wake. Also Latin American and Border Studies 06-534, and Race and Ethnicity Studies 37-364. (H)
  • 18-164 Self, Ethics, Society
    An introduction to philosophical investigations of the character, development, and care for the self, with an emphasis on the question of the self's relationships to others: ethical responsibilities, social structures, and the relation between the two. (H)
  • 18-184 Theories of Race
    An introduction and survey of contemporary race theory, with emphases on intersections with gender, class, nationalism and imperialism. This course also focuses on the ways race has been constructed as a category of identity across various cultures, academic disciplines and historical periods, and on the relationship between race and ethnicity as categories of difference. Also Feminist Studies 04-184 and Race & Ethnicity Studies 37-184. (H)
  • 18-194 Introduction to Feminist Philosophy
    An historically informed introduction to key texts in feminist theory. Our approach to the issues and debates will be interdisciplinary and readings will be drawn from a range of disciplines such as philosophy, anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, cultural studies. Also Feminist Studies 04-124. (H) (SJ)
  • 18-204 Philosophy and Literature
    An examination of philosophy as articulating issues and problems presented in the themes and aesthetic character of literary works, and literature as exposing themes (i.e. epistemological, metaphysical and ethical themes) that demand philosophical scrutiny. The issues discussed may include the historical relation and differences between literary and philosophical works, questions concerning meaning and representation, literature as illuminating human experience and cultures, and the intersection of politics and narrative. Also Latin American and Border Studies 06-524. (H)
  • 18-214 Politics and Economics
    A critical exploration of the development and implications of the peculiarly modern understanding of politics and the economy as distinct and autonomous spheres, tracing some of the key historical stages in articulating (and troubling) this distinction and exploring various Marxist, Polanyian, feminist and other critiques of it, as well as the alternatives they propose. Also Economics 31-334. (H)
  • 18-224 Philosophy of Religion
    An examination of some of the principal philosophical problems involved in the practices of religion. Attention will center on the nature and practice of religious knowledge in relation to other ways of knowing, and on religious language and the role of religious narratives as central to understanding both the historical and contemporary cultural phenomenon of religion in the western world. (H)
  • 18-234 Environmental Philosophy
    An examination of some of the philosophical, ethical, and political questions posed for contemporary society by climate change and the ecological crisis. Particular focus will be given to interrogating the idea of Nature, as something outside of, opposed to, pre-existing human beings, and possible alternatives to it, as well as to questions of how we might think/live/do politics in an era where many effects of long-term climate change are now clearly unavoidable. Also Environmental Studies 49-244. (H)
  • 18-254 Media and Narrative Identity
    This course examines the role of narrative in the construction of self and group identities and the maintenance of particular world pictures, with a focus on the formation and propagation of value systems in consumer society. We will survey contemporary narrative theory and then explore the significance, structures, and dynamics of mass media communication as a primary vehicle for cultural narratives, including propaganda, with particular attention to media portrayals in marketing and journalism of values, gender, ethnicity, and community. Also Communication Studies 75-634. (H)
  • 18-284 Philosophies of the Americas
    An introduction to the complex history of Latin American philosophy, including European and indigenous traditions of thought as well as their hybrids. Key issues will be the interpretation and criticism of notions of history and progress, race and ethnicity, colonialism and knowledge production, the philosophical status of indigenous knowledges, and the relation between philosophy and territory. (H)
  • 18-314 Marxisms
    An introduction and examination of key concepts and debates in the development of Marxist theory, from Marx to the present day. Particular emphasis will be given to conceptions of class and class struggle, including how class relates to issues of gender and race; questions of political organization ('the party,' social movements, etc.); and conceptions of alternatives to capitalism. (H)
  • 18-324 The Embodied Self
    An exploration of the emergence of this modern conceptthe selfand its psychological, anthropological, political and epistemological contours. Readings may be drawn from a variety of disciplines. Also Feminist Studies 04-364. (H) .
  • 18-334 Materialisms
    An engagement with and exploration of the challenges posed within philosophy by perspectives on the world-including that of modern science-which hold the priority of matter to mind and thought. To what extent and in what ways might philosophy, originally codified through an insistence on the priority of ideas or forms-grasp its own material ground without reducing it to an idea? What effects would such a grasp have on the nature of philosophy, the status of concepts and of subjectivity, or the idea of freedom? Particular emphasis will be given to questions posed by the theory of evolution and neuro-science and to the recent upsurge in new materialist or realist positions within philosophy. (H)
  • 18-374 Feminist Ethics
    This course traces the history and development of feminist ethics while considering its central issues and overall project. Areas of concentration might include discussions of human rights and social justice, transnational perspective in ethical theories and biomedical ethics. Also Feminist Studies 04-374. (H)
  • 18-394 Psychoanalysis
    An examination of central notions and issues in the development of psychoanalytic theory and a reflection on that theory's continuing relevance and importance, with a particular emphasis on the works of Freud and Lacan. Also Psychology 33-354. H)
  • 18-604 Reading Philosophy
    A guided effort to focus and improve advanced students' capacities for engaged, thoughtful, critical and independent reading of philosophical forms of argumentation and analysis. Writing assignments and discussions will be focused on the detailed articulation and understanding of one or two important texts. Offered every spring. Should be taken in sophomore or junior year. Prerequisite: One Philosophy course. (WA) (H)
  • 18-614 Ethos, Identities, Differences
    This course will focus on historical understandings of the interactions between individuals and society, especially on the ways in which a society's ethos, its overarching set of ideals, values and beliefs, relates to the ideals, values and beliefs of individuals within that society. It will examine the ways in which both individual identities and social identities are formed, the extent to which a society constructs individual identity, and vice versa. Further, the course will examine the ways in which differences emerge both within individuals and in society and the extent to which the societal ethos allows and is transformed by difference. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy. (H) (CRITICAL HISTORIES)
  • 18-624 Being, Structure, Change
    This course focuses upon the conceptual categories through which human beings negotiate their experience of themselves and the world and examines how those categories are formed and gain or lose currency. In every age and currently, ideas about order and structure; what kinds of things there are and how they relate; how things work, be, or become the things they are; and how we are to understand both the processes of change and the background within which change occurs, such as space and time itself, shape both how we see ourselves and the world and how we act in it. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy. (H) (CRITICAL HISTORIES).
  • 18-634 Experience, Language, Knowledg
    Humans are knowers: we generate truths and beliefs about the world and our place in it that guide our behavior and our work, as well as our cultural and political forms. This course asks questions such as: How is knowledge possible? What counts as knowledge? What are the limits of human knowledge? This kind of inquiry analyses the way knowledge is determined by mental, perceptual, emotional and social phenomena, particularly experience and language, and whether this determination is informed by historical processes. Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy. (H) (CRITICAL HISTORIES).
  • 18-644 Peoples, Power, Organization
    . This courses focuses on historical understandings and productions of collective social and political identities and agents, the manners (political, economic, cultural, etc.) in which such collectives relate to one another, and the various ways in which such relations have been and could be organized. How might understandings different forms of power and organization assist us in redressing various forms of oppression, domination, exploitation; in furthering various forms of empowerment, equality, justice, liberation? What is the relationship between philosophy and social transformation? Prerequisite: One course in Philosophy. (H) (CRITICAL HISTORIES)
  • 18-914 Colloquium in Philosophy
    Required of majors in Philosophy, normally in their final year. Offered every fall. Prerequisite: Philosophy 18-604. (H) (WA)