Division of Social Studies
The philosophy curriculum is designed to provide students in any field a general understanding of the nature and history of philosophical inquiry. Students who major in philosophy also have extensive access to more specialized courses, which can serve as the foundation for graduate study.
Areas of Study
The core of the program consists of courses in the history of philosophy and such traditional areas of philosophic study as ethics, political philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology, logic, the philosophy of language, and aesthetics. In addition, several seminars each year are devoted to the work of one philosopher, for example, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, or Sartre.
Students who want to moderate in philosophy are expected to take three courses in philosophy in the Lower College. No specific courses are required for Moderation, but students are encouraged to take one of the Introduction to Philosophy
courses, which provide an orientation to philosophic methodologies and common themes of philosophical concern in texts ranging from Platonic dialogues to 21st-century works. Majors in the program are expected to take at least seven philosophy courses altogether, at least four during their studies in the Upper College.
Juniors must take the writing-intensive Philosophy Research Seminar
(for details, see Philosophy 302) as well as a 300-level single-author seminar. Students intending to apply to graduate schools in philosophy are strongly encouraged to take at least one course in ancient philosophy, at least two courses in modern philosophy (17th through 19th centuries), at least one course in 20th-century philosophy, symbolic logic, and at least one course in ethics or political philosophy. Each philosophy major determines the topic of his or her Senior Project in consultation with a faculty adviser.
Recent Senior Projects in Philosophy
- “Deep Disquietudes: Methodology and Word Meaning in Wittgenstein and Foucault”
- “Painting the Sublime: Repositioning the Kantian Sublime in the Realm of Visual Art”
- “Seeking Vita Contemplativa: A Search for Contemplation in a Secular World”
- “Terms of Eternity: World and Reason in the Ghazali-Averroes Polemic”
Introductory courses are numbered in the 100s. Courses numbered in the 200s, while more specialized in content, are also generally appropriate as first courses in philosophy. Courses numbered in the 300s are more advanced and require previous courses in philosophy and permission of the instructor. Tutorials may also be taken; recent subjects include Hume, Kant’s second and third critiques, Hegel, Heidegger, and Quine.