Warren Wilson College Catalog 05-06

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Courses in Philosophy (PHI)

PHI 111 Introduction to Philosophy: A Search for Meaning 4cr *(2005-06)

This course will offer an investigation into the meaning and structure of human existence by critically analyzing some of the perennial questions of human experience. The questions will be addressed in metaphysics (the study of being), epistemology (the theory of knowledge), and ethics by considering the views of some of the great philosophers of the Western Tradition (as well as some critics of that tradition).
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 112 First Philosophy 4cr * (2005-06)

Being introduced to the work of great philosophers can be a very good way for students to begin a study of philosophy. There is another equally viable approach, which Descartes called 'First Philosophy.' So understood, philosophy is not so much a subject for study as it is a process of thinking through the most basic of issues very carefully. What is the nature of truth? What can you know and how do you know it? What sorts of things are there: physical, mental, spiritual? What gives something value? Where do I fit in? In exploring the answers suggested by our own experience and thinking, we can gain the philosophical skills needed to compare our work to that of the philosophers who have gone before us. Whatever the method, the point of doing philosophy is the same in the end: to provide a foundation for all the endeavors in our life.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 115 Alternative Philosophies 4cr **

Mainstream Western Philosophy rests on a set of assumptions about the nature of reality and how we know it. Eastern, American Indian, transcendental, feminist, non-hierarchical, psychosynthetic, occult, and other non-traditionally Western views rest on a fairly cohesive set of alternative assumptions. Exploration of these serves as an introduction to Eastern philosophy and other alternatives and sheds light on the whole of Western philosophy as well.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 116 Great Trials: Truth and Censorship 4cr **

This course will take up questions of truth, censorship, and judgment as challenges that need to be considered for the present time. Although such diverse thinkers as Socrates, Galileo, Thoreau, and Camus challenged their respective societies and accepted notions of truth in important ways, their quests for truth will be used to question our own truths and values; in order to ask what censorship and judgment mean today; and to ask, "What does it mean now to be ahead of our time?"
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 252 Environmental Ethics 4cr

This course will cover several significant approaches to environmental ethics. The central focus of the course will be twofold: the question of our ethical and metaphysical relation to non-human life and to nature; and the ethical status of the human and the non-human world. Within these larger and interconnected questions, we will discuss the holism/individualism debate; the deep ecology/ecofeminism debate; and the question of the meaning of sustainability. A significant portion of this course will be spent on the Land Ethic, Deep Ecology, and Ecofeminism and the theoretical and practical issues raised by them.
Triad: Language/Global Issues.

PHI 255 Philosophy of Science and Logic 4cr * (2006-07)

This course provides the opportunity to obtain a working knowledge of elementary deductive logic and scientific method, to understand the historically important criticism of each, and to seek alternative methods where needed. The course may be especially helpful as preparation for the LSAT exam, law school, and graduate work in the social or natural sciences.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 256 Political Philosophy 4cr * (2005-06)

This course will offer an investigation into political philosophy from the beginning of the Modern period to the present. Essays written by some of the top theorists in their respective fields will focus on issues in contemporary society regarding race, gender, sex, and class theory.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion

PHI 257 Ethical Theory and Practical Issues 4cr * (2005-06)

The goal of this course is to become familiar with the fundamental philosophical issues involved in contemporary ethical problems such as capital punishment, euthanasia, animal rights, parenting issues, and free speech issues. The first half of the course will focus primarily on theory, the second half on the practical issues.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion

PHI/WMS 258 Feminist Philosophy 4cr * (2006-07)

This course will investigate several historical and contemporary feminist philosophical perspectives with the aim of enabling the student not only to work critically through some important feminist critiques, but also to appreciate the diversity of feminist thought.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 259 Problems of Truth and Goodness in Ancient Philosophy 4cr * (2005-06)

This course will investigate how some of the basic questions of human life concerning truth, justice, revenge, relation to the divine, law, and love were lived and understood by the Greeks during different times in Ancient history. The readings include selections from the Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, and tragedies by Aeschylus and by Sophocles.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion

PHI 272 Introduction to Nietzsche 4cr * (2006-07)

This course will offer an introduction into Nietzsche's thought. We will read and discuss several of Nietzsche's works and investigate important Nietzschean concepts such as the Transvaluation of Values, the Will to Power, and the Eternal Return, and furthermore understand these concepts as a fruitful way of approaching and critiquing philosophy and culture. In the last few weeks of the course we will explore contemporary interpretations of Nietzsche's texts by thinkers such as Irigaray and Derrida. These will allow us to see Nietzsche as a pivotal figure, a Modern thinker whose ideas open up philosophical possibilities by questioning the very foundations of the subject, truth, and philosophy.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 290-298 Special Topics in Philosophy 2-4cr

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Philosophy or those it serves. May be repeated for credit under different topics.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 299 Independent Study 1-4cr

PHI 353 Science, Perception, and Reality in Modern Philosophy 4cr * (2005-06)

We are today the inheritors of the Modern tradition in philosophy and in science. A study of some of the key thinkers during this broad period in the history of philosophy (16th-19th Centuries), will allow us to uncover the rich diversity in their respective methods and theories regarding knowledge, truth, and reality. We will read original texts by Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Hume, Kant, and Hegel, and pay particular attention to the connection between philosophical and scientific method and theory.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 354 Existentialism and Phenomenology 4cr * (2006-07)

Existentialist philosophy calls on us to reflect meaningfully on our lives and reach conclusions that can have validity for other persons as well. Phenomenology, as a method of investigation that includes the role of the inquirer in the sphere of investigation, represents a crucial development in philosophy and science in the 20th Century. Phenomenology, as a method that takes subjectivity into account, proposes that we carefully examine, interpret, and describe the phenomena of lived experience in its complexity. We will read original texts by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Marcel, and Heidegger. Through all of these writers, we will examine both the historical and the contemporary significance of certain tensions that seem to characterize human existence in the 20th Century: the individuality of experience/the universality of reason; human finitude/the desire for transcendence or the "infinite"; human freedom/the weight of responsibility; and the individual/society.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 355 Analytic Philosophy in the Twentieth Century 4cr **

This course investigates the rise and flowering of analytical philosophy from Logical Atomism through Logical Positivism to Ordinary Language Philosophy. The course begins with, and periodically returns to, a central analytic concern with the nature of philosophy itself. Special emphasis is placed on the work of Bertrand Russell, early and later Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolph Carnap, Karl Popper, W.V.O. Quine, R.M. Hare, C.L. Stevenson, G.E. Moore, Gilbert Ryle, A.J. Ayer, and John Austin.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 356 Contemporary Philosophy 4cr * (2005-06)

This course will offer an investigation into four leading contemporary thinkers in Continental philosophy. After an introduction by way of the pivotal Modern philosopher, Nietzsche, we will read and discuss the thought of Foucault, Derride, Irigaray, and Baudrillard. The general theme of the course will center around these four philosophers' respective "postmodern" attempts to open up new ways of thinking about subjectivity that take into consideration the role of the body and of institutions such as language and social structures. This course will offer students interested in philosophy the opportunity to analyze and think about questions that Continental philosophers are dealing with right now.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 357 American Philosophy 4cr * (2006-2007)

This course concentrates on the major North American philosophers of the "classical" period from 1870 to the end of World War II including Pierce, James, Dewey, Royce, Mead, Santayana, DuBois, Locke, Gilman, and Wright.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 361 Eastern Thought 4cr * (2006-07)

Eastern and Western views differ in many of the important assumptions that ground them, but the most basic issues are the same. What is the nature of truth? What are good grounds for knowledge and for belief? What sorts of things are there: physical, mental, spiritual? How can we find value in life and preserve it in the lives of others? These are the most basic questions you and I need to answer. We will try to do that by exploring the classical philosophical systems of India: Vedanta, Mimamsa, Sankha, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Carvaka, Jaina, and Baudda systems, the major schools of classical Chinese philosophy - especially Confucianism and Taoism - and Japanese philosophy - especially Zen. As time permits, we will also explore the influence of Eastern thought on Western thinkers.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 362 Plains Indian Thought 4cr * (2006-07)

It has been frequently suggested that traditional American Indian life offers a model of good environmental citizenship. But the detailed model has been sought by homogenizing the ideas of various Indian peoples into a mythical "Native American" view. This course will cover a full range of philosophical issues that arise in the thought of a single cohesive group of Indians often known as the Sioux and especially those people who designate themselves as Oglala. Although the content of this course will betray my connection to these people, it will cover the thought of other plains Indians from the Algonquian, Athabascan, Caddoan, and Kiowa language families and, as counter-point, that of other tribes around them as well.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 363 Nature Way 4cr **

This environmental philosophy course will explore the effects upon our treatment of the natural world that would result from substituting for our traditional Western assumptions, the assumptions of Taoism and other Eastern views, pre-domination American Indians, some holistic Western views, and Eco-Feminism. We will also explore the value and epistemological status of direct experience of nature as suggested in contemporary sources and by our own first hand experiences.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor

PHI 390-398 Special Topics in Philosophy 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Philosophy or those it serves. May be repeated for credit under different topics.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion

PHI 399 Independent Study 1-4cr


Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHI 411 Epistemology 4cr * (2005-06)

There is a set of epistemological issues that constantly reappear in the history of Western philosophy. These include what sort of knowledge is given by the senses, whether one can ever have knowledge of a world beyond direct apprehension, the role of reason in providing knowledge, the very nature of knowledge and of belief, the connection of these to truth, and the nature of truth. The first two-thirds of this course will explore the classical issues, mostly in the order in which they arose. The balance of the course will explore responses to these issues from outside the classical Western Canon, especially from pragmatists and feminist thinkers.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous 300 level course or permission of the instructor.

PHI 412 Philosophy of Mind 4cr * (2006-07)

This seminar will investigate the nature of "mind" from several historical as well as contemporary philosophical perspectives. In particular it will focus on the relationship between "mind" and "body" from both ontological and epistemological points of view, and analyze different conceptions of "mind" and of "consciousness" from the intellectualist/rationalist tradition, the empiricist/behaviorist tradition, and from the way that phenomenology attempts to overcome this opposition.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous 300 level course or permission of the instructor.

PHI 413 Philosophy of Language 4cr **

Thinking about the role language plays in thinking is doing philosophy of language. Its main task is finding out how language can serve as a medium for thinking and communication of thoughts. Philosophers of language have divided such questions into issues about syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. This course is primarily concerned with the semantical explorations of the concepts of meaning, sense, reference, naming, and truth and the relationships among them, and pragmatic concerns with the kinds of things we can do with words, the social context of language, and the nature of communication.
Triad: College Composition II or Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous 300 level course or permission of the instructor.

PHI 490-498 Special Topics in Philosophy 2-4cr **

In-depth consideration of a topic of particular concern within the disciplines of Philosophy or those it serves. May be repeated for credit under different topics.
Triad: Philosophy/Religion
Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor

PHI 499 Independent Study 1-4cr


Prerequisite: one previous course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.

For more on course descriptions and syllabi, visit The Philosophy Department Website.