Courses

Next Semester

Courses scheduled for the Spring of 2018 include (click the links to view more complete descriptions of the course where available):  

18-104-01  Philosophy of Art

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)

18-134-01  Philosophy, Race and 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)

18-164-01   Self, Ethics, and 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)

18-184-01   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)

18-284-01   Philosophy 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. Also Latin American and Border Studies 06-504 and Race and Ethnicity Studies 37-274. (H)

18-304-01   Business as an Ethos

The self-image of the United States turned originally on the idea of a nation composed of independent “yeomen” farmers: the free citizens of a free republic, dependent on no one; rugged individualists facing an open frontier.  By the latter part of the 19th century, however, this image had come severely into question: the rise of corporations and the consolidation of large sums of capital in private banks and financial markets raised fundamental questions about the independence and freedom of both individuals and markets. Increasingly, “business” became an ethos: “the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society.” But the shifts involved were heavily contested and deeply uncertain on the right as on the left. In this course, we look primarily at two stages in this evolving ethos and its consequences: first, the late 19th and early 20th C., in which arose not only corporations but also populism, progressivism, scientific management, and the assembly line; second, from the late 1970s to today, often considered the period of “neoliberalism.’ How does this aggressive form of individualism and competition square itself with the era of multinational corporations? Why are corporations today do concerned with our individual health and happiness? How are we motivated to, and should we resist, being caught up in “business as usual”?  Also Business 30-304-01 and Economics 31-304-02 (H)

18-324-01   The Embodied Self

An exploration of the emergence of this modern concept, the self, in its psychological, phenomenological, anthropological, political and epistemological contours, as well as the way in which accounts of the self have reckoned with its grounding in the body. Readings may be drawn from a variety of disciplines. Also Feminist Studies 04-364. (H)

18-604-01   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)

18-644-01   Critical Histories: Ethos, Identities, Differences

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)