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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

Please see also AU Schedule of Classes from the Registrar.

Fall and Summer 2011 Course Offerings

Philosophy Fall 2011

PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.001
MTH 8:55AM-10:10AM Koishikawa, K
.005 TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Sigrist, M
.006 TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Sigrist, M
.080UC TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Erfani, F
This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition. Students closely examine classic and contemporary texts on the nature of reality, truth, morality, goodness, and justice; the possibility of knowledge; faith, reason, and the existence of God; and the issue of freedom and determinism.

.002 MTH 11:45AM-1:00PM Weis, L
.003 MTH 4:00PM-5:15PM Weis, L
Philosophy is concerned with examining the meaning of human existence. This means that philosophy is most interested in the fundamental questions that arise when one attempts to make sense of his or her experience, for example, ‘Who am I and how should I live? What is the meaning of the good, of friendship, of dignity? Is my society a just one?’ Philosophy does not always answer these questions! Often, the most important feature of philosophy is that the activity of asking philosophical questions gives rise to even more questions than answers. In exploring these and other questions we will read and analyze classic texts of philosophy and literature from the Western tradition.

.004H MTH 1:10PM-2:25PM Tschemplik, A
 (Section 004H only open to students in the University Honors Program)
This is a survey course of Western Philosophy which spans 2500 years. The focus of the course is about the connection between knowledge and morality which will provide us with the opportunity to examine a variety of philosophical concepts. The central concern which we will address throughout the semester is whether or not there is a connection between what we know and how we act. We will examine a variety of proposals for knowledge and evaluate the critiques offered by other thinkers. At the same time we will question why it is that some thinkers insist on separating knowledge from morality insisting on a division between "science" and "ethics". If the two are completely divorced from one another, then what is the point of education?

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Area 2, Cluster 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".


PHIL 200 Introduction to Logic
.001
MTH 8:55AM-10:10AM Romanovskaya, T
Basic principles of inductive and deductive reasoning. Text and exercises supplemented by readings and discussions in history, philosophy, and applications of logic.


PHIL 220 Moral Philosophy
.001
MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Weis, L
.002 TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Feder, E
The theories concerning the nature of goodness found in Western philosophy. The major discussion issues are traditional principles for evaluating goodness and telling right from wrong; the difference between fact and value; the justification of normative judgments; objectivity in ethics; and the relationship between moral and non-moral goodness.

.003 TTh 8:10PM-9:25PM Carr, R
By nature all human beings evaluate experiences. Some experiences are good, some shameful, some praiseworthy. This evaluation is the basis of morality. How does one determine whether an experience is good or bad, harmful or beneficial? What role do reason, principles, intuition, and feeling play in the determination? How does thinking well about morality impact our decisions on vegetarianism, euthanasia, and poverty?

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Traditions that Shape the Western World. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority, HIST-115 Work and Community, JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition, PHIL-105 Western Philosophy, or RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West.


PHIL 230 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
.001
MTh 11:45AM-1:00PM Oliver, M
.002 MTh 4:00PM-5:15PM Oliver, M
Taking a global and broadly historical approach, students examine art from a variety of critical and philosophical perspectives. Examples will be drawn from ancient Mesopotamia, classical Greece, India, Japan, the Islamic tradition, Renaissance Europe, and modern America. Student projects engage particular works of art through both theoretical and creative avenues.

.003 TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Pathak, S
.004 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM Pathak, S
This course focuses on the interpretation of works of art through increased understanding of the artworks themselves, the lives of those who create them, and the societal influences on these artists. In addition to considering premodern, modern, and postmodern criticism of a variety of forms of literary and visual art, students will interpret the oeuvres of particular artists of interest to them. To prepare for these projects, students will study four ways in which artists create meaning in their works: mythologization, memorialization, mobilization, and universalization.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 1, Cluster 2: Understanding Creative Works. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: ARTH-105 Art: The Historical Experience, COMM-105 Visual Literacy, LIT-120 Interpreting Literature, or LIT-135 Critical Approach to the Cinema.


PHIL 235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
.001
TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Valdes, E
.002 TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Valdes, E
.003 MTh 8:10PM-9:25PM Cooke, E
This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Western Heritage and Institutions. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority, HIST-115 Work and Community, JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition, PHIL-105 Western Philosophy, or RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West.


PHIL 302/602 Nineteenth Century Philosophy
.001
T 2:35PM-5:15PM Stam, J
This course explores continental philosophy from Hegel through Nietzsche. Beginning with the Kantian background, we move from Hegel to Schopenhauer, Feuerbach, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Nietzsche. Consciousness, will, history, freedom, religion, and different applications of the dialectical method, will be among the major themes. Emphasis will be on concentrated reading of the texts—some of them difficult—and the continuities and contrasts among these thinkers.

Prerequisite for PHIL-302: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 310/610 Plato and Aristotle
.001
 M 5:30PM-8:00PM Tschemplik, A
We will focus on three major themes in the writings of Plato and Aristotle: metaphysics, aesthetics and psychology. In addition to examining the development of each topic we will also look at their interconnectedness. Finally, we will assess whether Aristotle's work is critical of or complementary to Plato's writings.

Prerequisite for PHIL-310: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 312/612 Lacan and Philosophy
.001
F 2:35PM-5:15PM Erfani, F
Jacques Lacan's psychoanalysis was influenced by 19th and 20th century continental philosophy. His influence on contemporary philosophy is now considerable, especially in film studies and political theory. This course begins with important texts by Lacan and subsequently considers Lacan’s influence, especially on Slavoj Žižek and Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe.

Prerequisite for PHIL-312: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 312/612 Michel Foucault
.002
W 11:45AM-2:25PM Flax, J
Michel Foucault’s work poses many challenges to other constructions of ethics, subjectivity and power. We will track the evolution of his thinking about these questions and explore some practical and philosophical applications of a practice he recommends, “care of the self.”

Prerequisite for PHIL-312: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 314/614 American Philosophy
.001
T 5:30PM-8:00PM Carr, R
From the time of the Civil War to the outbreak of WWII, three American philosophers made original entries into the encyclopedia of philosophy. The entries come under the heading "Pragmatism", a theory of meaning that accounts for the ways in which thinking enters into experience and experience determines the truth of our concepts and beliefs. Charles Peirce (1839-1914), William James (1842-1910), and John Dewey (1859-1952) are the classical pragmatists and their works are the subject of this course. Some consideration will be given to Alain Locke, a little heralded pragmatist of this period who was the intellectual spokesman of the Harlem Renaissance, and neo-pragmatism.

Prerequisite for PHIL-314: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 319/619 Buddhist Philosophy
.001
Th 5:30PM-8:00PM Park, J
This course explores Buddhist philosophy with a special focus on Buddhist ethics. Since Buddhism’s introduction to American academia, Buddhism’s relation to ethics has been repeatedly questioned and diverse efforts have been made to clarify the nature of Buddhist ethics in general and Buddhism’s position on specific moral and ethical issues including human rights, abortion, and social justice. During the first half of the semester, the class will explore classical Buddhist texts and discuss major issues in Buddhist philosophy. The second half of the semester will be devoted to a discussion of Buddhist ethics based on examinations of contemporary thinkers’ works on Buddhist ethics. Readings include: The Vimalakirti Sutra, The Lotus Sutra, The Flower Ornament Sutra, Zen Master Dogen's Shobogenzo, Contemporary Buddhist Ethics, Buddhist Economics, Zen and Environmental Ethics, and The Six Perfections. 

Prerequisite for PHIL-319: one course in philosophy.


PHIL 391/691 Internship in Philosophy
W 8:10PM-10:40PM Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.


PHIL 392/692 Cooperative Education Field Experience
Feder, E

Prerequisite: permission of department chair and Cooperative Education office.


PHIL 486 Colloquium of Philosophy: Philosophy & Criminal Justice
.001  
W Sept 21, W Oct 12 and W Nov 2, 8:10PM-10:40PM; F Oct 28, 1:00PM-6:00PM; Feder, E
Jeffrey Reiman’s landmark book, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, has been in print for 30 years, and the 2011 McDowell Conference will be dedicated to the themes it raises. Our task for this colloquium is to prepare for and reflect upon Reiman’s work and its legacy.


PHIL 498 Honors Project in Philosophy
Oliver, A

Prerequisite: permission of department and University Honors Director.


PHIL 520 Seminar on Ethical Theory
.001
W 5:30PM-8:00PM Reiman, J
In this course we will examine some important recent contributions to ethical theory. We will start with a careful reading of John Rawls’s Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (published 2001). This is Rawls’s final statement of his liberal theory of justice, a theory which has in large measure shaped moral philosophical discourse among English-speaking philosophers since the appearance of his A Theory of Justice in 1971. Then we will examine a number of works challenging Rawls’s theory, in greater or lesser degree, or extending it. We will start by considering Amartya Sen’s “Equality of What?” in which Sen defends the “capabilities approach” which he contends is superior to Rawls’s way of determining people’s just entitlements. Then we will look at Eva Feder Kittay’s Love’s Labor (published 1999), which argues from a feminist/care perspective that Rawls has omitted a crucial feature of social existence that is essential to justice. This will be followed by Jürgen Habermas’s, Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (published 1990), where Habermas puts forth his theory of “discourse ethics,” an approach that he contends is more realistic than Rawls’s approach. We will close the semester by evaluating Rosalind Hursthouse’s On Virtue Ethics (published 1999), which calls for placing moral theory on an Aristotelian basis rather than the Kantian basis on which Rawls’s theory is developed.  We will finish up the course by reading Claudia Card’s Confronting Evils, a book which addresses the moral nature of terrorism, torture and genocide.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.


PHIL 797 Master's Thesis Seminar

Prerequisite: permission of department chair.


Religion Fall 2011

RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
.001
TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Schaefer, M
.002 TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Schaefer, M
The contribution of religion to Western civilization. An exploration of the religions that have formed the foundations of Western civilization, including: Greco-Roman and other Ancient Pagan Traditions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Unitarianism, Mormonism, and American Civil Religion. Where possible, primary source texts, including the scriptures of the religions, will be used.

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Traditions that Shape the Western World.


RELG 185 Forms of the Sacred
.001
MTH 4:00PM-5:15PM Greenberg, G
Since we live in both the global village and in our own national, but multicultural, universe, some knowledge of Eastern religions can be a real asset. The course covers three major religious traditions: the traditions developed in South Asia which form Hinduism, Buddhism as it developed in India and is transformed in East Asia, and the indigenous religious traditions of China and Japan. Throughout the course, the manifestations of religion in both high and popular culture and religion’s influence on issues of gender, social structure and personal behaviors will be addressed.

.003 TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Berry, E
.080UC TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Berry, E
What is religion? How should religion be studied and understood? How do religious traditions emerge and how do they evolve? In what ways do religious traditions shape social and political structures? Forms of the Sacred poses these questions with respect to the major religious traditions of Asia. The course provides an introduction to the history and influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Daoism and Confucianism.

This course is a foundation-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 3, Cluster 2: Global and Multicultural Perspectives.


RELG 210 Non-Western Religious Traditions
.001
MTH 1:10PM-2:25PM Park, J
This course examines how non-Western religious traditions function as systems of symbols, how they interact with both indigenous religious traditions and external religious traditions, and how they respond to modernization and imperialism. The first three weeks will be devoted to create a framework to understand religious phenomena with a special focus on religion and freedom and then the class will read selected texts from Asian religious traditions, examine their interaction with the Western intellectual world, and explore their modern transformations.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 3, Cluster 2: Global and Multicultural Perspectives.

Prerequisites for General Education credit: ANTH-110 Culture: The Human Mirror, LIT-150 Third-World Literature, RELG-185 Forms of the Sacred, SIS-140 Cross-Cultural Communication, and SOCY-110 Views from the Third World.


RELG 370/670 Islam
.001
MTh 2:35PM-3:50PM Oliver, M
Beginning with the historical context of the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad, this course explores the many theological, philosophical, mystical, and social interpretations of Islam. Students will examine claims about a normative understanding of the tradition from both internal and external perspectives, including those of the contemporary era
.


RELG 375/675 Religion and Violence
.001
M 8:10PM-10:40PM Greenberg, G
This course explores the religious dimensions, both ideological and cultural, of political and military conflict. Themes include sacred geography and literature as grounds for bloodshed; the sanctity of race; martyrdom/terrorism; and pacifism. Empirical data is drawn from Germany, Lithuania, the Middle East, and the Balkans.


RELG-386/686.001 Judaism Confronts Modernity
.001
W 11:45AM-2:25PM Berner, L
What happens when an ancient faith confronts a modern world; traditional beliefs, values, and practices are challenged; and history creates new realities for Jews and Judaism? We will explore the political emancipation of western European Jewry, its challenge to religious “tradition,” the manifestations of old and new Anti-Semitisms, the birth and development of modern Zionism (as a reflection of ancient religious dreams and new political realities), the birth of Jewish religious denominations (Renewal, Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox), and the feminist challenge to contemporary Jewish thought and practice.


RELG 391 Internship in Philosophy
 W 8:10PM-10:40PM Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.


RELG 498 Honors Project in Religion
(Open only to students in the University Honors Program.)

Prerequisite: permission of department chair and university honors director.


Philosophy Summer2011

PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.B01
TTh 1:00PM-4:10PM Erfani, F
May 16-June 23
This course is a historical introduction to the Western philosophical tradition. Students closely examine classic and contemporary texts on the nature of reality, truth, morality, goodness, and justice; the possibility of knowledge; faith, reason, and the existence of God; and the issue of freedom and determinism.


PHIL 230 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
.B01
TTh 5:30PM-8:40PM Greenberg, G
May 16-June 23
Leading theories of the nature, purpose, and meaning of artistic activities and objects examined through writings of philosophers, artists, and critics of ancient and modern times. Both Western and non-Western viewpoints are considered. Student projects apply critical ideas to particular works in an art form familiar to them.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 1, Cluster 2: Understanding Creative Works. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: ARTH-105 Art: The Historical Experience, COMM-105 Visual Literacy, LIT-120 Interpreting Literature, or LIT-135 Critical Approach to the Cinema.


PHIL 235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
.D01
TTh 1:00PM-4:10PM Erfani, F
June 27-August 4
This course analyzes traditional Western theories of democracy and rights, both separately and in relation to each other, as well as contemporary approaches such as Habermasian, post-modern, feminist, and critical race theory. It also considers the East-West debate on human rights.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Western Heritage and Institutions. 

Prerequisites for General Education credit: GOVT-105 Individual Freedom vs. Authority, HIST-115 Work and Community, JLS-110 Western Legal Tradition, PHIL-105 Western Philosophy, or RELG-105 Religious Heritage of the West.


PHIL 386/686 Gender, Body, and Society
.F01L
online course, Weis, L
May 16-July 1
This course will focus on the philosophical analysis of gender, particularly on how our understanding and practice of gendered embodiment shapes social realities. We will engage in the creation of an online “virtual” philosophical community, as well as reflect philosophically about the meaning and significance of our “virtual” interaction.

Prerequisite for PHIL-386: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.


PHIL 391/691 Internship in Philosophy
Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair. 

Religion Summer2011

RELG 185 Forms of the Sacred
.B01
MW 5:30PM-8:40PM Greenberg, G
May 16-June 23
Since we live in both the global village and in our own national, but multicultural, universe, some knowledge of Eastern religions can be a real asset. The course covers three major religious traditions: the traditions developed in South Asia which form Hinduism, Buddhism as it developed in India and is transformed in East Asia, and the indigenous religious traditions of China and Japan. Throughout the course, the manifestations of religion in both high and popular culture and religion’s influence on issues of gender, social structure and personal behaviors will be addressed.


RELG 220 Religious Thought
.D01
MW 5:30PM-8:40PM Greenberg, G
June 27-August 4
This course examines the history of Christian thought, according to representative thinkers and essential issues. Thinkers include the Church Fathers (Tertullian and Origen), Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, John Wesley, and in the modern period, Schleiermacher and Bultmann. Issues include the nature of man's relationship to God, reason and revelation, history and the kingdom of God, holy scripture and myth, and martyrdom.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 2, Cluster 2: Traditions that Shape the Western World.

Prerequisites for General Education credit: Individual Freedom vs. Authority, Work and Community, Western Legal Tradition, Western Philosophy, or Religious Heritage of the West.

 
RELG 391 Internship in Philosophy
Feder, E
An internship provides the opportunity to test the claim that philosophy and religious studies are the kinds of disciplines that teach transferable skills such as critical reading, analytical problem-solving and clear and careful writing. These skills are desirable, since many research institutes, non-profit organizations, think tanks and legal and business organizations—all of which Washington supports in abundance—are in search of individuals with such skills. All students enrolled in internships in philosophy and religion will meet as a group and individually with the instructor throughout the semester.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor and department chair.