Sem Phil Traditions
Continuing Regis., Ph.D
Intro to Philosophy: Philosophy and Human Nature
This course introduces students to the discipline of philosophy and its various subfields through a study of debates about human nature. Students will read the works of ancient thinkers along with those of modern philosophers and scientists, and will be exposed to views from both the Western and Asian traditions. A particular focus of the course will be to examine the ramifications of evolutionary theory for understanding human nature, as well as the implications of that theory for philosophical inquiry.
Classical Chinese Philosophy
This course surveys seven main thinkers of the "classical" period of Chinese philosophy (approx. 550-221 BCE): Kongzi (Confucius), Mozi, Mengzi (Mencius), Laozi, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. These thinkers developed a complex and rich debate about ethics, human nature, moral psychology, and self-cultivation. The positions they established greatly influenced later Chinese history, including the development of Buddhism, and they influenced philosophical discourse in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam as well. Thus, understanding these early debates is an important stepping-stone for understanding East Asian thought generally. Readings consist mainly of primary texts in translation, with some secondary literature. No previous knowledge of Chinese language or history is necessary.