Spring 2018

Courses to be taught by CSBSJU Philosophers spring 2018:

PHIL 121-01A Great Issues in Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
11:10am-12:30pm
 in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN # 15388

Throughout the ages, several issues have been central to the quest for philosophical insight about human existence.  This course examines a number of those issues – free will vs. determinism, the making of moral judgments, the grounds for religious belief and other topics as time allows.  Through careful reading of texts and class discussion, we will critically analyze the ideas that philosophers have offered and strive to formulate our own philosophical views on these issues. 

PHIL 123 Philosophy of Human Nature (HM)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
123-01A at 10:20am-11:15am in Quad 344 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN# 15846
123-02A at 11:30am-12:25pm in Quad 344 with Professor Erica Stonestreeet
CRN# 15950

What are humans like?  What is the purpose of human life?  These basic questions can be answered from different points of view, and focused on different aspects of being human.  What does it mean to be a human animal?  Are we fundamentally selfish?  How should we live?  What is the connection between body and mind?  What is a soul?  How can human life be meaningful?  This course is a survey designed to introduce philosophical ideas and modes of thought, with a central focus on problems arising from human nature.  We will analyze and criticize topics that fall under three major aspects of the human condition: body, mind, and spirit.  We’ll raise questions and discuss the implications of each topic for the meanings of our own lives, for how we ought to behave as individuals, and for how we should treat one another in order to build the best lives possible for ourselves.

PHIL 125-01A Social Philosophy (HM)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
12:40-1:35pm in Quad 353 with Professor Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN# 17224

This course will begin by looking at the communal description of the human according to Aristotle, a description and definition that show humans are from the very beginning of their existence already in community. Then as we move into the work of Hannah Arendt, we will see how John Locke and Thomas Hobbes started out differently with the humans as individuals in a state of nature.  For Locke and Hobbes, the state of nature was a state of war or at least of discomfort.  So people come together to create communities for the purpose of security.  But whether it is Aristotle’s communitarian human or the individualistic human of Hobbes and Locke, the humans end up in a community.  And there in the community, they find conflict, inevitable conflict.  How do they deal with that conflict and try to resolve it?  Arendt sees two possibilities: civil disobedience or violence.  With Gandhi and Camus, we reflect on the way that the human community needs to respond morally to violence..  The novel of Remarque gives a picture of the way that violence can destroy a community.  Texts:  Aristotle, Arendt, Gandhi, Remarque and Camus.  Daily writing; discussion; three exams and one final paper.

PHIL 156-01A Asian Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
9:35-10:55am in Quad 365 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN# 17225

We will study the Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu and Daoist traditions of religious philosophy.   From these traditions we will learn about:

  • moral ideals that emphasize restraint of desire and disentanglement from worldly attachments;
  • conceptions of a well-lived human life that emphasize a quiet mind, cooperation and service to others;
  • the ideas that competitive status-seeking is self-defeating and individualism is an illusion;
  • meditative disciplines believed to lead to genuine self-understanding, a balanced and harmonious mind, insight into the nature of reality, and a direct experience of the divine; 
  • the idea that insight into the true nature of reality and divinity can neither be achieved nor conveyed through logic or language.

This course requires one hour of contemplative practice (prayer or meditation) per week outside of class meetings.

PHIL 321-01A Moral Philosophy (ES)
Tuesday/Thursday
9:35-10:55am in Quad 361 with Professor Steve Wagner
CRN# 16743

We will first consider some of the most prominent moral theories in the tradition of western philosophical thought, such as the views of Aristotle, John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant. We will analyze their views to see if they provide adequate guides for living a good life. We will then turn to a number of contemporary moral views which claim to offer variations or alternatives to the classical models—such as feminist ethics, virtue ethics, and the use of literary texts to develop moral points of view. Most of our work will be through class discussion of our readings. Our focus throughout will be to consider whether we can find guidance for our own lives in the moral views we will consider.

PHIL 327-01A Existential Ethics (ES)
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
11:30am-12:25pm in Quad 339 with Professor Dennis Beach, OSB
CRN# 17326

Existentialism, a 20th century philosophy with roots in the 19th century and various developments in post-modern thought, rejects all foundational givens except the raw fact of existence. This means that it rejects ethical traditions grounded in religion, in reason, in “virtues,” in particular theories of human nature, and in cultural tradition. Nevertheless, existentialist thinkers have often emerged as powerful ethical thinkers, precisely because they refuse to embrace any traditional foundations for ethics and thus keep ethical questions open for debate. We will examine existentialism’s radical critique of traditional philosophical foundations using readings from such thinkers as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Beauvoir. As we proceed, we will explore the ethical implications of these existential currents of thought by reflecting on short pieces of literature and narratives illustrative of ethical dilemmas of modern and contemporary life.

PHIL 333-01A Ancient Philosophy (HM)
Tuesday/Thursday
2:20-3:40pm in Quad 361 with Professor John Houston
CRN# 12316

This is a first course in the history of philosophy in antiquity, covering major figures of almost an entire millennium. Special focus will be given to the works of Plato and Aristotle. The course is divided into three main periods. The first period is that of the Presocratics. Beginning with Thales of Miletus in the 6th century BC, we will examine the emergence of philosophy in the ancient western world. We will pay special attention to the answers these early philosophers gave to the following questions: what is it to be real? Is knowledge possible? If so, what are the proper objects of knowledge? Presocratic responses to these questions betrayed a rejection of conventional wisdom, and an attempt to replace it with a more informed view.  We will work hard to understand the answers they provided to these questions. Next we will turn to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They would not only respond to these questions, but would attempt to answer another:  what is the chief good or best life for a human being? We will examine what Plato and Aristotle held in common, as well as where they diverged when addressing these questions. In the final part of the course we will survey some of the major philosophical responses to Aristotelian philosophy that emerged in Epicureanism and Stoicism. We will especially attend to what these philosophers had to say about nature, divinity, and the best life for a human being, and how their accounts differed substantially from that of Aristotle.

PHIL 346-01A Philosophy of Religion (HM) cross listed with THEO 329F
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
10:20-11:15am in Quad 353 with Rene McGraw, OSB
CRN# 17223 PHIL 346-01A
CRN# 17340 THEO 329F-01A

Human life longs for meaning.  We sometimes invent meaning in order to carry on in our daily lives.  But more often we find that meaning in family and friends and work and sometimes in God and faith.  We talk about religious experience and the meaning it might give to our lives.  The focus of the course will be on religious experience and desire – their reality and reliability for the believer and non-believer or, on the contrary, their chimerical character for the non-believer and more cautious believer.  We will also look at this religious experience and desire from the perspective of theological thinking.  Requirements:  two tests; daily writing; one final paper.

PHIL 366-01A Neuroethics (ES)
Tuesday/Thursday
11:10am-12:30pm in Quad 339 with Professor Emily Esch
CRN# 17327

This course will examine some of the key issues in the relatively new interdisciplinary filed of neuroethics.  You will acquire a basic understanding of neuroscience and the contemporary ethical implications arising from this field. Among other topics, we will investigate questions about the justice of using neuroimaging in the legal system, the ethical implications of cognitive enhancement drugs, and how advancements in neuroscience research and technology are changing the ways we think about personhood and the self.

PHIL 388-01A Philosophy Capstone
Tuesday/Thursday
2:20-3:40pm in Quad 343 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN# 15952

We will use Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy as a lens to think about the history of ethics and various ethical concepts in the Western intellectual tradition.  Williams was one of the greatest moral philosophers of the 20th century, and his Ethics takes an interesting, probing look at major attempts to address Socrates' "How should one live?" 

HONR 230G-01A Philosophy of Music
Tuesday/Thursday
11:10am-12:30pm in Quad 349 with Professor Erica Stonestreet
CRN# 17195
This course is open to Honors students only.

Philosophy of Music will help students reflect more deeply on their experiences of music.  Most people experience music on a basic level of emotion and are left with an overall impression; those educated in music are able to more readily recognize forms, musical references, and context in more detail.  But few of either group has thought systematically about what music is, whether music possesses meaning, and, if so, how that meaning is conveyed or expressed. These are central issues in the philosophy of music and will be central issues in our course. We will begin by giving some attention to the history of musical aesthetics to develop a context for the questions, but the greatest emphasis will be on exploring them in the context of our world today. The course will present divergent philosophical theories that will be considered with respect to a wide range of music including Western “classical” music, music of non-Western cultures, and the popular music many of us enjoy.​
Class will regularly involve discussing philosophical readings and musical selections.

Ethics Common Seminars:

HONR 390C-01A Reading for Life
Tusday evenings
6:15-9:15pm in Quad 343 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN# 16456
This course is open to Honors students only.

Everyone loves a good story.  Great stories can provide us with far more than mere recreation.  Stories can provide us with rich character portraits that can reveal the subtleties and nuances of what it means to live well and responsibly.  In this course we’ll use novels and films to address Socrates’ most basic ethical questions, “How should one live?” and “What sort of person should I be?”  We’ll do so by attending to all the concrete, particular details of real life and fictional characters thoroughly embroiled in the “business of living.”  Reading well offers the possibility of vicarious experience and ultimately, ethical insight. 

Our readings will include:  

The Crucible (Arthur Miller)
The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Beloved (Toni Morrison)
How To Be Good (Nick Hornby)
Glengarry Glen Ross (David Mamet)
Cold Mountain (Charles Frazier)   
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Anthony Marra) 

ETHS 390-01A Democracy, Freedom & Equality
Monday/Wednesday/Friday
8:00-8:55am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN# 17338
This course will introduce students to basic ideas about political freedom and democracy in the philosophical tradition, and then explore tensions between freedom and inequality in the contemporary United States.  These contemporary issues will include examination of constraints upon men's and women's freedom and equality that often go unchallenged in political theories and in our current democratic structures.

ETHS 390-02A Democracy, Freedom & Equality
Monday/Wednesday/Friday

9:10-10:05am in Quad 353 with Professor Charles Wright
CRN# 17339
This course will introduce students to basic ideas about political freedom and democracy in the philosophical tradition, and then explore tensions between freedom and inequality in the contemporary United States.  These contemporary issues will include examination of constraints upon men's and women's freedom and equality that often go unchallenged in political theories and in our current democratic structures.

ETHS 390-08A Others
Tuesday/Thursday
12:45-2:05pm in Quad 361 with Professor Tony Cunningham
CRN# 15591

We share our lives by both necessity and design with others.  Born utterly dependent, we rely entirely upon the care and kindness of others for our very survival.  Even when we no longer depend upon others to feed, clothe, and protect us, we must figure out what sorts of responsibilities we bear to others and what responsibilities they have to us.  Some people may seem relatively distant, bound to us only in the basic sense that we share in some common humanity.  Others can seem so important to us that we might not wish to go on without them.  In this course we’ll examine the responsibilities we bear to each other in various respects—as human beings, as friends, as family, as brothers and sisters in common causes.  We’ll also look at the ways in which people turn their backs on others and misuse them in cruel and oppressive ways.  Using sources drawn from philosophy, literature, history, memoir, and the social sciences, we’ll put our minds to what we owe others and what others owe us.

ETHS 390-14A Good, Evil & the Limitations of Human Nature
Monday evenings
6:15:9:15pm in Quad 344 with Professor John Houston
CRN# 17068

All of us are familiar with the terms “good” and “evil”. Furthermore, we have all at some time used these terms in reference to persons or their actions. This phenomenon is the focal point of this class. In this course we will seek to address a variety of questions related to good and evil. Some of these questions include: What are the conceptual origins of our judgments about good and evil? Can we objectively say of some actions or persons that they are good or evil?—Or do terms like good and evil merely serve as expressions of our individual preferences? In virtue of what do we describe people as good or evil? Are some people born evil and others good, or do they become so? If they become so, how does this happen? Philosophers and famous literary personalities have grappled with these questions. We will draw upon their resources to reflect on these questions and attempt to articulate our own answers to them. In this course students will be required to read, think, write, attend class, and contribute to thoughtful dialogue.

ETHS 390-15A Good, Evil & the Limitations of Human Nature
Tuesday evenings
6:15-9:15pm in Quad 344 with Professor John Houston
CRN# 17071

All of us are familiar with the terms “good” and “evil”. Furthermore, we have all at some time used these terms in reference to persons or their actions. This phenomenon is the focal point of this class. In this course we will seek to address a variety of questions related to good and evil. Some of these questions include: What are the conceptual origins of our judgments about good and evil? Can we objectively say of some actions or persons that they are good or evil?—Or do terms like good and evil merely serve as expressions of our individual preferences? In virtue of what do we describe people as good or evil? Are some people born evil and others good, or do they become so? If they become so, how does this happen? Philosophers and famous literary personalities have grappled with these questions. We will draw upon their resources to reflect on these questions and attempt to articulate our own answers to them. In this course students will be required to read, think, write, attend class, and contribute to thoughtful dialogue.