Spring 2015 course descriptions

PHI 2010 Introduction to Philosophy

PHI2010 is a general introduction to philosophy. It aims to introduce you to some fields and debates in philosophy; to show you something of philosophy’s history; and to develop skills in reading, discussing, and communicating that will be useful in later philosophy classes and elsewhere. The topics considered will include arguments for and against the existence of God; Thomas’s Hobbes’s Leviathan, a famous text in the history of political philosophy; and views and arguments about the meaning of life. This class meets the Humanities general education requirement. It also counts for 4000 words of the writing requirement. The main items of assessed work will be three papers and a final exam. There is one required book: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, edited by A.P. Martinich and Brian Battiste (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview, 2011; ISBN 9781554810031). All other readings, both historical and contemporary, will be made available through the Canvas site for the class.

PHH5405 Modern Philosophy 1

In Modern 1 next semester I plan to focus largely on the philosophy of Leibniz. Before we get to Leibniz, we’ll spend a couple of week looking at the work of Descartes, reading parts of his Principles of Philosophy. After that, I plan to spend around four weeks looking at Leibniz’s 1686 ‘Discourse on Metaphysics’ and associated texts. That will take us almost halfway through the semester. For the second half of the semester, I want to look at a variety of later texts. Some of these are further systematic statements of Leibniz’s views (e.g., the ‘New System’, the ‘Monadology’), while others are engagements with other philosophers (e.g., the correspondences with Arnauld and Clarke). The main focus of these discussions will be on metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. However, we will also touch on issues in philosophy of religion, natural science, epistemology, and moral philosophy.

The great majority of the Leibniz readings will be from G.W. Leibniz, Philosophical Essays, translated by Ariew and Garber (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1989). Others will be posted on the Canvas site for the class. The text of the Ariew and Garber volume is also available on the Past Masters database to which UF subscribes. The main pieces of assessed work for the class will be two essays and a final exam.