Spring 2021

PHIL 105-01A Identity & Social Ethics in America (CI) 
Block B evenings with Paul Benjamin Cherlin, in Quad 252
CRN # 18177

This course explores the concept of identity in The United States; such a consideration is absolutely crucial to democracy in the truest sense of the term: a form of social organization where diverse perspectives contribute equally to an ongoing conversation, and difference is leveraged to create an enlightened people. We begin the semester by exploring American identity through a number of philosophical mediums, including Native American and European American notions of selfhood and social organization. This will serve as a basic orientation and theoretical basis upon which we will explore the next set of questions concerning racial identity, racism, colonialism, and the intersection of racial, ethnic, and gendered identities. Our authors include Joseph Epes Brown, John Locke, William James, John Dewey, Josiah Royce, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, James Cone, Laura Gómez, Zachary Blair, and Treva Ellison.

PHIL 105-02A Identity & Social Ethics in America (CI)
Block C evenings with Paul Benjamin Cherlin, in Quad 252
CRN # 18178

This course explores the concept of identity in The United States; such a consideration is absolutely crucial to democracy in the truest sense of the term: a form of social organization where diverse perspectives contribute equally to an ongoing conversation, and difference is leveraged to create an enlightened people. We begin the semester by exploring American identity through a number of philosophical mediums, including Native American and European American notions of selfhood and social organization. This will serve as a basic orientation and theoretical basis upon which we will explore the next set of questions concerning racial identity, racism, colonialism, and the intersection of racial, ethnic, and gendered identities. Our authors include Joseph Epes Brown, John Locke, William James, John Dewey, Josiah Royce, W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Angela Davis, James Cone, Laura Gómez, Zachary Blair, and Treva Ellison.


PHIL 123-02T Philosophy of Human Nature (HM) (HE) (T1)
Block C afternoons with Erica Stonestreet in Quad 261
CRN # 18174

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 role of reason in defining humanity?

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. 

​Using a textbook that contains sources from "classic" European philosophy as well as ​from outside that tradition, 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 123-03T Philosophy of Human Nature (HM) (HE) (T1)
Block A afternoons with Erica Stonestreet in Quad 261
CRN # 18175

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 role of reason in defining humanity?

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. 

​Using a textbook that contains sources from "classic" European philosophy as well as ​from outside that tradition, 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.

Philosophy in Literature is a course that can be taken for four or two credits.

PHIL150.01A (D4 Block, 4 credits, HM/HE; CRN: 17502)

PHIL150A.01T (D4 Block Apr 20-30: 7 classes), 2 credits; HE/Truth Encounter, CRN: 18010)

PHIL150C.01J (D4 Block, May 3-14: 8 classes), 2 credits; HE/Justice Encounter, CRN: 18011)

D4 Block, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM, SJU–REINLC 391 (common meeting time & class activities)

From the beginnings of human thought, imaginative literature—poetry, stories, plays and novels—has been a means for humans to reflect on profound questions: How should we live our lives? Can life put us in touch with higher truths, or is this world all there is? Is imagination the opposite of truth or a means of discovering it? How well do we know ourselves? Do we have a moral duty to other persons? Can I be responsible for suffering or evil that I have not caused myself? We will read a number of novels, plays, and short stories ranging from classic literature to contemporary fiction, seeking to discover how imaginative writing is related to serious philosophical thought.

In the first half of the Block, we will read stories by Leo Tolstoy and Tim O’Brien, and then plays by Henrik Ibsen. In the second half we’ll read two novels: Albert Camus’ The Plague and Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife.

First-year Students wishing to earn both Thematic Encounter Designations should simply sign up for PHIL150.01A, the 4-credit course, which is technically an HM course for the old, Common Curriculum. After registration, the Registrar will move all First-years in PHIL150 into the two 2-credit sections, so that all will earn the proper designations for the Integrations Curriculum. Because of the overlapping date listings in the Block Schedule, students cannot register themselves for both 2-credit sections.


HONR350V-01A Chinese Philosophy (HM) (IC)

Block C mornings with Charles Wright in Quad 347
CRN # 18501
Through the close reading and discussion of foundational texts in the Chinese tradition of philosophy students will explore another civilization’s perspective on knowledge, reality, ethics, and political order.  These perspectives will serve as a mirror through which students can gain reflective distance from unexamined Western beliefs and habits of mind.  The class starts with the ethical and political teachings of the Analects of Confucius and the Mencius.  We then turn to the Daoist teachings on knowledge and reality as found in Laozi’s Daodejing and the Zhuangzi.    

PHIL 325-01A Feminist Ethics (ES) (GE) 
Block D afternoons with Jean Keller in HAB 015
CRN # 17505
This course will examine how women's experiences and philosophical reflection on those experiences offer important and necessary perspectives in the field of moral and ethical thinking. Topics may include the nature of feminism, freedom and oppression; the role of care, trust, autonomy, reason and emotion in the moral life, and a consideration of how feminism has come to challenge basic premises and conceptual tools of traditional, western approaches to ethics and moral reasoning. The course will also explore social/ethical issues stemming from the intersection of gender with race, ethnicity, culture, class, and/or sexuality.


PHIL 325-02A Feminist Ethics (ES) (GE)
Block C afternoons with Jean Keller in HAB 015
CRN # 17506
This course will examine how women's experiences and philosophical reflection on those experiences offer important and necessary perspectives in the field of moral and ethical thinking. Topics may include the nature of feminism, freedom and oppression; the role of care, trust, autonomy, reason and emotion in the moral life, and a consideration of how feminism has come to challenge basic premises and conceptual tools of traditional, western approaches to ethics and moral reasoning. The course will also explore social/ethical issues stemming from the intersection of gender with race, ethnicity, culture, class, and/or sexuality.

PHIL 331 - Ancient Philosophy (HM) 
Block B mornings with Dennis Beach, OSB in Quad 344
CRN # 12316
We speak of ancient Greece as “the cradle of civilization” and of Athens as “the birthplace of democracy” even though democracy was criticized as “mob rule” by both Plato and Aristotle. What is beyond dispute is that in ancient Greece and especially in Athens, human thinking blossomed like never before. The flower of this thinking was Philosophy, the love of wisdom, which Plato speaks of as the most noble of the arts. This course will center on reading and discussing key works of both Plato and Aristotle, with side excursions into Pre-Socratic and Stoic thinking, as well as the contextualization of this thought in the culture of ancient Greece.



PHIL 364 - Theories of Knowledge (HM) 
Block D afternoons with Emily Esch in Quad 361
CRN # 18179
Epistemology, or the study of knowledge, is the philosophical discipline which studies the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired. This course will focus on feminist epistemology and the ways in which gender influences our conceptions of knowledge, knowers, and our practices of knowledge acquisition and justification, with a special emphasis on the sciences. Central to the topics of the course will be an examination of epistemic questions around racial and gender oppression.

PHIL 388 - Philosophy Capstone 
Block A/B/C/D Wednesday mornings with Dennis Beach, OSB, in Quad 247
CRN # 15952
This course will use as its core text Martha Nussbaum’s Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: CUP, 2001). In this work, Nussbaum argues philosophically that emotions are value judgments—judgments about ourselves, about people important to us, and about events that we do not control but deem important for our own well-being. Her thesis is a revision of the Stoic perspective (she calls it “Neo-Stoic”), but the importance and value she ascribes to emotion is nothing like Stoic apathy. The view of the emotions that she develops has normative implications: she argues that appreciation of literature and the arts, which attune our emotional intelligence, forms an essential element of our moral education as human beings. The Philosophy Capstone requires Senior Philosophy majors to cultivate and demonstrate the ability to work independently on philosophical texts, to integrate a variety of resources and materials into their studies, and to present, discuss and write about these ideas and material for and with peers and mentors.

ETHS 390-01A Ethics Common Seminar
Democracy, Freedom & Equality
Block A mornings in Quad 365 with Charles Wright
CRN #18097
In the United States today, most citizens tend to take for granted that liberty and equal treatment are fundamental parts of a just society.  But if asked what, exactly, these core values amount to, many citizens would have difficulty providing clear and informed answers.  The purpose of this class is to provide young citizens with an introduction to important conceptions of freedom and equality embedded in the Western tradition of political philosophy as well as to some challenges that modern societies face trying to meet the requirements of both.

ETHS 390-02A Ethics Common Seminar
Nature, Democracy, and Ethics
Block D evenings in Quad 252 with Paul Benjamin Cherlin
CRN #18021

The study of ethics is typically characterized as the study of right and wrong, good and evil. This course will take a much broader approach to morality; we define ethics as a critical and evaluative study of human conduct and social intercourse. In order to evaluate human conduct, we ask a range of questions: what are our obligations to other people? Who or what determines these obligations? What is the best way to live together in a diverse society? What are the challenges to social solidarity? Are moral guidelines relative to a time and place, or do certain rules transcend situated contexts? Given the events that have unfolded during 2020, these questions are on a lot of people’s minds. However, they have always been the important questions to ask!

ETHS 390-03A Ethics Common Seminar
Democracy, Freedom & Equality
Block B mornings with Charles Wright in Quad 459
CRN #17948

In the United States today, most citizens tend to take for granted that liberty and equal treatment are fundamental parts of a just society.  But if asked what, exactly, these core values amount to, many citizens would have difficulty providing clear and informed answers.  The purpose of this class is to provide young citizens with an introduction to important conceptions of freedom and equality embedded in the Western tradition of political philosophy as well as to some challenges that modern societies face trying to meet the requirements of both.

ETHS 390-07A Ethics Common Seminar
Vulnerable Lives
Block C afternoons with Tony Cunningham
CRN # 17071
Who can deny that human lives and character are fragile? A glance at victims of rape, genocide, war, oppression, betrayal, and tragic loss suggests we are vulnerable. Yet various lines of thought have suggested that this needn't be so. Some Eastern religions have promised relief from suffering through enlightenment, and the Judeo-Christian tradition has pointed to faith and divine grace as a balm for suffering and a shield against the same. Roman and Greek schools of thought have aimed at forms of detachment and serenity that might render people invulnerable. Using psychology, memoir, philosophy, fiction and film sources, we'll consider ways in which human lives and character can be compromised and disintegrated. We'll also consider strategies designed to render us less vulnerable or invulnerable.

ETHS 390-09A Ethics Common Seminar
Vulnerable Lives
Block B afternoons with Tony Cunningham
CRN # 18096
Who can deny that human lives and character are fragile? A glance at victims of rape, genocide, war, oppression, betrayal, and tragic loss suggests we are vulnerable. Yet various lines of thought have suggested that this needn't be so. Some Eastern religions have promised relief from suffering through enlightenment, and the Judeo-Christian tradition has pointed to faith and divine grace as a balm for suffering and a shield against the same. Roman and Greek schools of thought have aimed at forms of detachment and serenity that might render people invulnerable. Using psychology, memoir, philosophy, fiction and film sources, we'll consider ways in which human lives and character can be compromised and disintegrated. We'll also consider strategies designed to render us less vulnerable or invulnerable.