Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Course Descriptions

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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Spring 2022 Courses in Philosophy

001: The Big Problems
Central philosophical questions, including those about truth and reality, knowledge and belief, value and meaning, mind and body, God and soul.

002: Individuals in Society
Core questions and contemporary issues concerning human life in social and political contexts, including power, justice, government, violence, community, and identity.

003: The Ethical Life
Core questions and contemporary issues concerning ethical conduct, human values, character, wellbeing, freedom, responsibility, and reasoning about moral problems.

005: Philosophy and Film

Explores philosophical questions through movies, and explores the nature of film, art, beauty, and aesthetic experience through philosophical analysis.

007: Asian Philosophy
Philosophical, moral, and aesthetic teachings of Asian traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism (including Zen), Taoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism.

008: Gender Matters

Feminism; questions of gender identity, inequality, oppression, especially in relation with other imbalances of power.

010: Critical Thinking

Discussion of the standards for good reasoning, argumentation, and language, and of common fallacies; informal logic; exploration of manipulative arguments and propaganda.

012: Symbolic Logic

Formal logical structures of propositions and arguments; tests and proof techniques for logical truth and deductive validity.

014: Love and Sex
Explores Western theories and attitudes concerning human intimacy, and examines various ethical issues involving love and sex, focusing on the United States.

015: How to Live

Reflections on ways of life, from diverse philosophical perspectives, with weekly practical components.

060N: Philosophy and 1960s Counterculture

Explores some of the central philosophical ideas, values, and social scientific theories related to the 1960s Counterculture.

083: FYS: Nonviolence and Violence

Exploration of nonviolence and violence, including inner peace, anger, nonviolent communication, self-defense, violent and nonviolent revolution, just war, and pacifism.

102: Existentialism

This course traces the efforts of existential thinkers to come to grips with the meaning of human finitude, including experiences of error, angst, faith, imagination, inequality, love, and consciousness itself.

103(w/h): Ethics

Historical and contemporary ethical theories, including conceptions of virtue, duty, autonomy, right action and the good life, the foundations of ethical norms, and their validity.

105: Philosophy of Law
Reflection on the nature of law, punishment, the Constitution, property, justice, legislation, adjudication, and responsibility.

108: Social and Political Philosophy

Introduction to political authority, community, inequality, power, pluralism, rights, justice, and other contemporary social and political issues.

109: Aesthetics

Aesthetic experience of nature or of art, and its relation to beauty, value, truth, and culture.

110: Philosophy of Science

Examines science’s assumptions about explanation, knowledge, and reality; progress in science; the relation between the branches of science; and the relation between science and culture.

114: Feminist Philosophy

Examines feminist philosophy and the intersections of gender, race, sexuality, class, and other dimensions of identity in relation to structures of power.

118: Environmental Ethics

Conceptual foundations of environmental ethics, the ethical value of nature and non-human species, the relation between economic and ethical evaluations, and problems of resource distribution and environmental justice. These perspectives are applied in the second half of the course to food production and climate change.

119: Ethical Leadership
Studies moral questions concerning leadership and the development of admirable and effective leadership qualities.

120N: Knowing Right from Wrong [Silver]
The nature of moral ideas, beliefs, and behaviors in contemporary contexts.

124: Philosophy of Religion

Studies the idea and existence of God, religious experience and the rationality of religious belief, and religion in relation to science, morality, and society.

125: Theories of Knowledge

Knowing something adds to my social importance, my authority and influence over others; when I am entitled to claim that I know something, when can I be sure?

126: Metaphysics
The nature of being and reality, identity, causality, and time.

127: Philosophy of Mind

The nature of mind, including the relation between mind and brain, the nature of subjectivity and the self, consciousness, personal identity, and artificial intelligence.

132: Bioethics

Examines ethical problems surrounding the research and practice of medicine and biotechnology.

197: Philosophy and Sport [Agler]

By studying definitions of health and sport, intellectual and social wellness, the value of sport for a good life, and types of knowledge in sport, you will learn core areas of philosophy.

197: American Psycho [De Warren]

Reflection on the social forces of consumerism, media, and capitalism as contributing to a distinctly American cultural psychosis. We will study philosophy from Simmel, Debord, Baudrillard; read American Psycho, Blood Meridian, White Noise, Butcher’s Crossing, The Crying of Lot 49; and watch Dr. Strangelove, Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now, Ravenous.

200: Ancient Philosophy [Sentesy]

The origins of the discipline in Ancient Greece, with attention to the Sophists, Socrates, and Plato, as well as related intellectual enterprises.

202: Modern Philosophy: 1600–1800 [Abaci]

This course offers a survey of the philosophies of Early Modern philosophers, including Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.

203: 19th Century Philosophy [De Warren]
European philosophy from Kant to Nietzsche, highlighting the period’s critical and revolutionary character.

204: 20th Century Philosophy [D. Aggleton]
Examines major movements, potentially including phenomenology, positivism and analytical philosophy, existentialism, pragmatism, critical theory, and feminism.

205: American Philosophy from 1840 [Wretzel]

American philosophical reflection on topics including pragmatism, transcendentalism, and democracy, with attention to its relation to U.S. culture, history, and politics.

208: Contemporary Philosophy [Droege]

The contemporary issue the course will consider is how to think of others: animals, identities, images.

402: Seminar in European Philosophy [Toadvine]

The phenomenological concepts of “world” and “earth” raise timely questions: Is there one world or many? Has technology fundamentally altered our relation to the earth? Is the world in danger of ending, or has it perhaps already ended? We will examine classic phenomenological texts and critical responses, followed by contemporary debates over the relation of world, earth, and planet raised by critical phenomenology, new materialisms, technological innovation, and the Anthropocene.

453: Seminar in Ancient Philosophy: Perception and World [Sentesy]

We examine how concepts of perception are intertwined with concepts of reality or world in ancient Greek philosophy, in the Presocratics as well as in Plato’s Theaetetus and Aristotle’s kinetic account of perception in On the Soul and On the Senses.

472: Islamic Philosohpy [Brockopp]

We will survey major texts from the Islamic philosophical tradition, focusing primarily on the classical period (ninth to twelfth centuries) and its influence on modern thinkers. We read translations of those who made an impact on European civilization (Algazel, Avicenna, Averroes, etc.), but also lesser-known scholars, such as Basran saint Rabia al-Adawiyya (d. 801) and African leader Usuman dan Fodio (d. 1817). Our goald is a solid understanding of the depth and breadth of Islamic philosophy.

474: Kant [Abaci]

This course offers a study of Kant’s philosophy through his major work, Critique of Pure Reason. The emphasis will be placed on (i) how Kant’s Critique reconciles different aspects of empiricism and rationalism; (ii) the development of Kant’s thought from his precritical works in the 1750s and 1760s through his critical period works in the 1780s; and (iii) the major doctrines presented in the Critique, such as transcendental idealism, theory of knowledge, and human freedom.