History of Philosophy Courses

Spring 2022 Ancient Philosophy courses

Spring 2022 Modern Philosophy courses

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Research and Student Groups

We welcome discussion on any figures in the early history of philosophy from a variety of traditions, so Roman, Indian, Egyptian, and Near Eastern philosophy should be at home in this group too. The group is united insofar as we enjoy many of the "big question" issues that characterize these philosophical traditions, and we frequently discuss issues related to virtue, the cultivation of the emotions, the therapy of desire, happiness, knowledge, and the blurry line between philosophy and theology. Because these philosophies are from historical and linguistic contexts often very different to our own, we spend a good deal of time exploring key concepts and terms that will likely be unfamiliar to contemporary English speakers, and clarifying important differences between these philosophical perspectives.

Faculty Leadership:

Jeremy Reid
Kimbrough Moore

Past Undergraduate Courses

PHIL 301 – Ancient Philosophy

This course is designed to give students a thorough introduction to two of the most influential and important schools in western philosophy: Platonism and Stoicism. Both Plato and the Stoics give compelling and bold answers to questions about what it means to be a good person, how character is developed, how our mind works, and what emotions should (and shouldn’t) play a part in a happy human life. Though the main focus of this course is on ethics and moral psychology, we will also discuss issues related to ancient sexuality, political philosophy, censorship, art, pleasure, love, justice, anger, oppression, and what makes a life worth living. Texts we will read include Plato's Republic (in its entirety), Plato's Phaedrus, Epictetus' Handbook, Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and Seneca's On Anger.

Course Attributes:

  • UD-C: Arts and/or Humanities

Previous Topics:

  • Hume and Kant

  • Classic Approaches to Memory and Perception

  • A History of Time

  • The Prophet and the Genius

  • Daoism

  • Early Modern Rationalism 

  • Exploring the Early Modern Canon

  • Aristotle's Ethics and Politics

  • Cicero

  • Human, Kant Shepard

  • German Idealism 

What is Islamic Political Philosophy? What is “Political Islam”? Is “Political Islam” an ideology? What is the relationship between “Political Islam” and Islam as a religion? Is there a distinction between these two concepts? The aim of this course is to examine these questions historically by situating them in the present discourse of social and political philosophy.

Course Attributes:

  • UD-C: Arts and/or Humanities
  • Global Perspectives
  • Social Justice


PHIL 509 – The Buddhist Traditions

The course is an exploration of the central philosophy of Buddhism, along with its intellectual developments in religious spheres and the cultural influence across Asia and more recently in the West. Beginning with origins in ancient India in the life and experiences of Gautama Siddhartha Buddha, the course will examine the formative development of Indian Buddhism, with a focus on Theravada and Mahayana texts, to further extensions in Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia (including South-East, China, Korea and Japan). The main concern will be with philosophical concepts and disputes over the nature of the self or no-self, emptiness, the cosmos (origins, time-space), the pleasures of living (inclusive of issues in gender, sex, attachments, virtues, compassion, and monasticism), after-life or rebirth. Next we shall study the paths of right view and moral conduct, meditation and contemplative praxis, toward attaining enlightenment, or nirvaṇa. The course will venture into the intersection of Buddhism and modern science in the areas of mind, cognitive patterns in meditation, and questions arising in the Philosophy of Religion, such as the existence of God, the problem of evil, the purpose of life, and redemption. The ramifications and applied ethics of Buddhist teachings in contemporary thinking on ecology, environmental care-ethics and animal ethics will also be visited.

Course Attributes:

  • Global Perspectives
  • UD-C: Arts and/or Humanities

We will be discussing the major philosophical and religious schools of classical (pre-Buddhist) China, including the Confucian, Mohist, and Daoist schools. This course is an introductory survey of the most important thinkers, with a special emphasis on the practical application of these views to our lives today.

Course Attributes:

  • UD-C: Arts and/or Humanities
  • Global Perspectives

Past Graduate Courses

Previous Topics:

  • Kant and Sellars
  • Aristotle
  • Wittgenstein
  • Aristotle's Ethics
  • Heidegger's Being and Time
  • Descarte
  • Plato and Aristotle 
  • Du Bois and Democracy 
  • Foucalt and the Care of the Self

Previous Topics: 

  • Confucian and Buddhist Philosophy 
  • 20th century Analytical Philosophy 
  • Virtue and Law in China and Greece
  • Desire, Pleasure and Virtue
  • Stoicism 
  • Daoism
  • Spinoza and Rationalism
  • Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Seminar in Cartesianism
  • Mysticism and Modern Philosophy 
  • Cambridge Platonism