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PHIL-185 Self and Reality
Fall for 2014-2015
Jeffrey, Gideon
This course serves as an introduction to some philosophical issues surrounding
two questions: (1) What are human beings? (2) What is the fundamental nature of reality? We will read and discuss both classic texts from the history of philosophy and some related contemporary readings in order to tackle these questions, and in order to help students learn to do philosophy themselves through seeing the
techniques and methods employed by other philosophers. Some of the specific
topics we will address include the relationship between our minds and our bodies, whether the soul exists, whether we have free will, the fundamental nature of
reality, and arguments for and against the existence of God.
‘The Wire’ is a critically acclaimed HBO television series that ran from 2002-2008. It chronicles urban plight in contemporary Baltimore through the experience of a large and diverse cast of remarkable characters: drug dealers, drug addicts, police, teachers, politicians, longshoremen, journalists and lawyers, among others. Because it encompasses such a large range of intricately developed characters interacting in complex ways, the series is a realistic and compelling setting in which to launch philosophical inquiries into the idea of responsibility. This is an important distinction about the focus of the class and the way in which it will use the series. The class is not about ‘The Wire’; instead, the class will use ‘The Wire’ as an environment for philosophical work, a dramatic and shared vehicle for scratching beneath the surface of the everyday concept of responsibility to find questions we hadn’t thought to ask and to begin to answer them.

Interested students should be cautioned: the series is emphatically TV-MA; it is violent (often graphically) and vulgar (often intensely and explicitly). Between them, the cast of characters will combine to perform all manner of violent acts and say offensive things about just about every type of person, and the series itself may be found offensive for how it portrays certain groups or individuals. Critical reaction will always be welcomed, but since viewings will be a mandatory part of the class, strong disinclination to experience this sort of unpleasantness should rule out enrollment.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: One of PHIL 010, 020, 098, or 099

Sections:

PHIL-185-01 Self and Reality
Fall for 2014-2015
Jeffrey, Gideon
This course serves as an introduction to some philosophical issues surrounding
two questions: (1) What are human beings? (2) What is the fundamental nature of reality? We will read and discuss both classic texts from the history of philosophy and some related contemporary readings in order to tackle these questions, and in order to help students learn to do philosophy themselves through seeing the
techniques and methods employed by other philosophers. Some of the specific
topics we will address include the relationship between our minds and our bodies, whether the soul exists, whether we have free will, the fundamental nature of
reality, and arguments for and against the existence of God.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: One of PHIL 010, 020, 098, or 099
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