Academic Programs

Division of Social Studies

Philosophy

Overview

The philosophy curriculum is designed to provide every student with a general understanding of the nature and history of philosophical inquiry. Students majoring in philosophy have extensive access to a more specialized curriculum, which can serve as the foundation for graduate study.

Areas of Study

The core of the program consists of history of philosophy courses and such traditional areas of philosophic study as ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, logic, the philosophy of language, and aesthetics. In addition, several seminars are offered each year that are devoted to the work of one philosopher, for example, Hegel, Heidegger, James, Kant, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Plato, Sartre, or Wittgenstein.

Requirements

Students moderating in philosophy are expected to have taken three courses in philosophy while in the Lower College. Although no specific courses are required prior to Moderation, students intending to major in philosophy generally take one of the Introduction to Philosophy courses, which provide an orientation to philosophic methodologies and common themes of philosophic concern in texts ranging from Platonic dialogues to 21st-century works. A major in philosophy normally involves taking seven courses, of which at least four are in the Upper College.

Juniors must take the writing-intensive Philosophical Research Seminar as well as a 300-level single-author seminar. Students intending to apply to graduate schools in philosophy are strongly encouraged to take symbolic logic, 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, and at least one course in ethics or political philosophy. The student determines the topic of his or her Senior Project in consultation with an adviser.

Recent Senior Projects in Philosophy

  • "Clearing Up the Grounds of Language: A Reading of Wittgenstein"
  • "The Freedom of Love: The Possibility of Collective Self-Realization through Enduring Forms of Mutual Recognition"
  • "Nonanthropocentrism and Intrinsic Value: In Search of an Alternative"
  • "The Philosophical Significance of Adequacy Results for Logical Systems"
  • "Skillful Listening: Enactivism as a Challenge to Musical Formalism"
  • "Unstable Foundations: The Role of the Dionysian in Nietzsche's Construction of Belief"

Courses

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 for admission. Tutorials are also taught: recent subjects include Hegel, Heidegger, Hume, Kant's second and third critiques, and Quine.

The Philosophy Research Seminar, required for all program majors, centers on a problem in contemporary philosophy.