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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

For current class offerings, times, and additional information, visit the Office of the Registrar.

Fall 2010 Course Offerings

Philosophy

PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.001 MTH 11:20-12:35PM Tschemplik, A
.004H MTH 2:10-3:25PM 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?

.002 TF 9:55-11:10AM Weis, L
.003 TF 12:45-2:00PM 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.

.005 MTH 9:55-11:10AM Koishikawa, K
.006 MTH 8:30-9:45AM Koishikawa, K
.080UC TF 2:10-3:25PM 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.

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 3:35-4:50PM 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 12:45-2:00PM TBA
.003  TF 11:20-12:35PM Scult, A
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.

.002 TF 12:45-2:00PM 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  TF 9:55-11:10AM 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.

.002  TF 11:20-12:35PM Raven, F
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
.001  TF 3:35-4:50PM Raven, F
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 240 Ethics in the Professions
.001
  MTH 3:35-4:50PM Leighton, K
This course provides a framework for thinking generally about ethics, and more specifically about professional ethics. In addition, it addresses ethical dilemmas that arise in the professions of government, law, business, medicine, the media, and the academy.

This course is a second-level course in the General Education Program, Curricular Area 4, Cluster 1: Social Institutions and Behavior. Prerequisites for General Education credit: COMM-100 Understanding Mass Media, ECON-100 Macroeconomics, GOVT-110 Politics in the United States, or SOCY-150 Global Sociology.

PHIL 302/602 Nineteenth Century Philosophy
PHIL 302.001
  M 11:20-2:00PM Stam, J
PHIL 602.001  TH 11:20-2:00PM 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 317/617 Race and Philosophy
.001 
 W 2:10-4:50PM  Feder, E
An introduction to the emerging area of critical race theory in philosophy. The course examines the development of “race” as an object of philosophy beginning in the early modern period, explores the way in which analysis of race has brought philosophy into public conversation, and the ways that philosophers have treated race and racism.

Prerequisite for PHIL-317: PHIL-105 Western Philosophy or permission of instructor.

PHIL 318/618 Chinese Philosophy
.001 
 TH 5:30-8:00PM Park, J
The course explores early Chinese thought through a close reading of major texts in Chinese philosophy in three traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. We will pay special attention to the issues of the private and the public, the particular and the universal, and the individual and society in Chinese thought. These issues will open a door for us to consider the Chinese thinkers’ positions on human nature, its relation to language and the transcendental, and ethical and political dimensions in Chinese thought. Readings include: Confucius’ Analects, Book of Mencius, Zhuangzi, Dao de jing, and The Platform S?tra.

PHIL 355/655 Philosophy of Religion
.001  M 5:30-8:00PM Greenberg, G
Representative texts in the history of the philosophy of religion, ending with a focus on contemporary issues.

Prerequisite for PHIL-355: one introductory course in philosophy or religion.

PHIL 386/686 Selected Topics in Philosophy
.001  Philosophy and Film 
 T 5:30-8:00PM Erfani, F
This course focuses on the relationship between philosophy and film. There is no doubt that you can find philosophical points made or illustrated in films. Many movies showcase, for instance, the mind/body dualism. But the goal of this course is to go beyond the mere illustration, though we can certainly focus on that too. To follow Gilles Deleuze—a philosopher whose work we cover in the course—we are interested in how film does philosophy in itself. In other words, we are not interested in film as illustrations of a given philosophy. We will be interested in how films can be philosophically innovative and how philosophy helps us understand film in itself. We will focus on a number of questions, primarily the importance of the medium, the role of emotions and identification on the part of the audience members, the question of realism (and its disadvantages), whether there is such a thing as a national cinema, how does film give us a view of the self, and how does film express the views of a minority or a marginalized group. In each case, we shall focus on a few philosophical texts and we will apply this work to Iranian Cinema. No prior knowledge of Iranian tradition or cinema is required but being one of the most interesting “national industries” these days, it will allow us to bring the philosophical traditions of the west to dialogue with this middle-eastern tradition. Among the many philosophers we will read in some depth: Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Lacan, Deleuze, Spivak and Kristeva. 

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

PHIL 391/691 Internship in Philosophy
 T 8:10-10:40PM 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:
.001  Philosophy and Race after Obama 
 W 5:30-8:00PM Feder, E
 September 1 – September 29
This colloquium will be devoted to a close reading of Jane Flax's
forthcoming book, Shadow at the Heart: Race/Gender Domination and the Melancholia of American Politics.

PHIL 498 Honors Project in Philosophy
Oliver, A

Prerequisite: permission of department and University Honors Director.

PHIL 520 Seminar on Ethical Theory
.001
 W 5:30-8:00PM Leighton, K
This course is a survey of the development of ethical theory in Western philosophy by analysis of major works in classical and contemporary moral philosophy. Issues investigated include the nature of the good and the right, the possibility of moral knowledge, the principles of individual virtue and social justice, the problems of ethical relativism and absolutism, and the foundations of modern conceptions of human rights.

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 693 Global Ethics
.001 T 5:30-8:00PM Berry, E
Global Ethics aims to provide an integrative seminar for students in the Ethics, Peace and Global Affairs Program. Course readings and discussions focus on the ethical questions characteristic of the historical moment known as globalization. Critical engagement with the philosophical literatures about these questions is central to the seminar and provides the basis for students to deepen their knowledge about and analysis of a particular issue.

PHIL 797 Master's Thesis Seminar

Prerequisite: permission of department chair.

Religion

RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
.001 TF 2:10-3:25PM 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 170 Introduction to New Testament
.001
 TF 3:35-4:50PM Schaefer, M
Literary, historical, and theological study of the New Testament. Particular attention to Jesus, Paul, and the development of the Christian movement.

RELG 185 Forms of the Sacred
.001 MTH 9:55-11:10AM  TBA
This course is an introduction to the methods of studying the history of religions and a brief survey of comparative analysis of major eastern religions and philosophies, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Daoism, and Confucianism.

.002 MTH 3:35-4:50PM  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 2:10-3:25PM 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 frame to understand religious phenomena by reading selections from The Idea of the Holy and Variety of Religious Experiences 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 372/672 Religion in America
.001 W 8:10-10:40PM Greenberg, G
Historical survey, beginning with Native American religion, Puritans, and covering Catholicism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, and African Methodist Episcopalians. Special focus on the relationship between American religious thought and the Holy Land.

RELG 373/673 Hinduism
.001 TF 2:10-3:25PM Pathak, S
This introduction to Hinduism focuses on four phases in the development of this vibrant religious tradition: (1) the internalization of yajna (sacrifice) during the Vedic period, (2) the realization of dharma (righteousness) during the classical period, (3) the diversification of bhakti (devotion) during the medieval period, and (4) the reconsideration of varna (class) during the modern period. Central to the study of each phase will be close readings of selections from its main mythological and philosophical texts, which will be considered in light of lived religious practices. 

RELG-386/686.001 Topics in Religious Discussion
.001  The Cross, Star, and Crescent
 MTH 12:45-2:00PM  Berner, L
From the 8th through the end of 15th century, Jews Christians and Muslims in medieval Europe engaged in a complex relationship that encompassed religious, intellectual, military and socio-political interchange. It was through this multifaceted three-faith relationship that ancient scientific knowledge, new philosophical ideas, theological polemic, poetic and literary forms and musical and architectural styles emerged in western Europe, especially in medieval Spain, Portugal and Italy. This course will explore the three faiths as they engaged in profound cultural osmosis and parallel cultures, focusing on the emergence of Christian, Jewish and Muslim theological ideas, philosophies of government and approaches to the minority “other” in society.

RELG 391 Internship in Philosophy
 T 8:10-10:40PM 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.

Honors

HNRS 300 Honors Colloquium: The Ethics of Killing
.003H W 2:10-4:50PM  Reiman, J
(Open only to students in the University Honors Program.)
In this course, we will examine philosophical writings on the question of if and when the intentional ending of human life is morally permissible. We will examine the moral status of murder, suicide, euthanasia, abortion, capital punishment, war and terrorism. Students will be expected to reflect on the national and international policy implications of the philosophical arguments considered.