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Philosophy & Religion | Courses

Please see also AU Schedule of Classes from the Registrar.

Spring 2015 Course Offerings


PHIL 105 Western Philosophy
.001 MTh 8:55AM-10:10AM Greene, N
.002 MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Marquis, J
.003 MTh 1:10PM-2:25PM Marquis, J
.004 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM Sigrist, M
.005 TF 4:00PM-5:15PM Bassiri, C
.006 TF 11:45AM-1:00PM de Saint-Felix, C
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 meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL 200 Introduction to Logic
TF 11:45AM-1:00PM Stam, J 
Basic principles of formal deductive logic, both Aristotelian (syllogistics) and modern (propositional and predicate calculus), with some attention to informal logic also. Text and exercises supplemented by discussions on history, applications, and critical appraisal of different logical systems. No prior knowledge of mathematics is involved. This is the course recommended for pre-law students by Law School Admissions Deans.

PHIL 220 Moral Philosophy
 MTh 2:35PM-3:50PM Greene, N
.002 MW 8:10PM-9:25PM Carr, R
.003 TF 2:35PM-3:50PM Fisette, J
This course investigates the question of what it means to live a moral life. Examining major works in Western philosophy, issues discussed include moral goodness and evil, the nature of justice and rights, the relationship between morality and self-interest, the justification of moral judgments, relativism versus objective truth, the role of pleasure in the good life, and the meaning of character and virtue.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL 235 Theories of Democracy and Human Rights
MTh 11:45AM-1:00PM Erfani, F
.002 TTh 8:10PM-9:25PM DeSaint-Felix, C
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 meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

PHIL 241 Bioethics
 TTh 5:20PM-6:35PM Liebow, N
.002 TTh 6:45PM-8:00PM Liebow, N
An introduction to the growing field of bioethics, this course examines the ethical implications of recent developments in bio-medical technology, as well as the ethical lessons of historical cases. Students read philosophers and ethicists on topics such as human subject research, patients' rights, medical rationing, and public and global health issues.

Open only to majors and minors in biology, philosophy, and public health.

PHIL 380 Colloquium: Philosophy of Liberation
 T 8:10PM-10:40PM Oliver, A
Recent developments in Latin America and elsewhere continue to promote "liberation" as a major political and cultural goal. This course examines key essays by Freire, Gutierrez, Boff, and Cox. Students explore clearer senses of liberation philosophy and liberation theology, and how ideas affect various publics in developing nations.

Prerequisite: one course in philosophy.

PHIL 400/600 Ancient Philosophy
Th 5:30PM-8:00PM Tschemplik, A
An examination of ancient Greek philosophy starting with the pre-Socratics and continuing through Plato, Aristotle, and the three major Hellenistic traditions: Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Skepticism.

Prerequisite: PHIL 105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 403/603 20th Century Philosophy
.001 MTh 4:00PM-5:15PM Marqui, J
Explores the fundamental movements of contemporary, continental Western philosophy, including existentialism, phenomenology, hermeneutics, and poststructuralism.

Prerequisite: PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 455/655 Philosophy of Religion
 MW 8:10pm-9:25pm Greenberg, G
Leading contemporary movements in the philosophy of religion.

Prerequisite: one introductory course in either philosophy or religion

PHIL 485/685 Selected Topics in Philosophy
.001 Marxism
Th 8:10pm-10:40pm Erfani, F
This course is about Marx and his followers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Students begin with Marx's philosophical writings, with a particular focus on the Philosophical Manuscripts and the German Ideology. Adorno, Macuse, Gramsci, Althusser, Sartre, Laclau, Mouffe, Derrida, Zizek, and Lacan are the main Marxists studied.

.002 Philosophical Views of Habit
M 5:30pm-8:00pm Greene, N
Given the role of habit in addiction, self-deception, ignorance, and moral numbness, "habit" seems to be synonymous with "bad habit" and dangerous, or base, in principle. However, philosophical analyses of our capacity to make and break habits also involve discussions of knowledge, embodiment, and language. If we are creatures of habit, then the idea of what that means can lead to important questions in moral psychology and many other fields. In this course, a few major theories of habit are discussed, including Aristotle and his discussion of human excellence, as well as concepts of meaning and truth in American Pragmatism, German and French phenomenology, and twentieth century structuralisms. Ultimately, students engage in nuanced discussions of contemporary problems that we inhabit, quite literally, in feminist reflections on oppression, ignorance, stereotypes, and implicit bias.

.003 The Idea of Nature (485 only)
W 2:35pm-5:15pm Berry, E
The terms nature and natural are basic concepts that shape modern attitudes about food, recreation, politics, and ecology;yet they remain notoriously difficult to define. This course surveys the historical evolution of philosophical thinking about nature from ancient to modern sources, along the way exploring some of the main differences between Euro-American ideas about nature and their counterparts in Islamic, Indigenous, and East Asian cultures. The central focus of this seminar style course is the role that ideas about nature have played in modern political philosophy (i.e., natural rights, natural reason, and the state of nature posited by Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and many others). Meets with HNRS-300 002H.

Prerequisite for PHIL-485:PHIL-105 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 525 Modern Moral Problems: The Ethics of Killing
 T 5:30PM-8:00PM Leighton, K
In his classic and controversial book, "The Ethics of Killing," philosopher Jeff McMahan examines questions concerning the rightness and wrongness of actions that result in death, focusing on 'marginal cases' where the moral status of an entity is not necessarily obvious, e.g., fetuses and animals. Many critics have taken to task this project, arguing that McMahan's method entails the problematic view that some human beings have less inherent moral worth than others. Using McMahan's book as our touchstone text, this course provides a review of moral problems associated with the ethics of killing, as well as an in depth study of methods of argument in current ethical theory. We will undertake background reading in ethics on topics including: brain vs. cardiac 'death';the difference between killing and letting die;the possible ethics of collateral damage in war;and the implications of permitting abortion for the ethics of neo-natal euthanasia. In addition to reading McMachan's book, we will examine several responses to his views, both supportive and critical, with the aim of developing our own analyses of both his arguments and his method. Students will learn how to do close readings of ethical arguments and will write short papers on the materials covered in addition to submitting a final paper on a specific so-called 'marginal case.'

Prerequisite: PHIL-220 or permission of instructor.

PHIL 702 Antigone's Legacy: Hegel-Butler
 W 5:30PM-8:00PM Bergoffen, D
Antigone has been the subject of ongoing philosophical, political and psychoanalytic interest. After reading the play in its Greek setting and tracking its life through the commentaries of such thinkers as Hegel, Freud, Lacan and Butler, the course addresses such questions as who was/is Antigone and why Antigone now.


RELG 105 Religious Heritage of the West
TF 1:10PM-2:25PM Schaefer, M
The contribution religion to Western civilization. The eastern Mediterranean roots of Western religions, the emergence of Christianity in the Greco-Roman world, and the rise of Islam. The mature religious synthesis of Medieval Europe. Modern secularism's challenge to this tradition.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 2: "Traditions that Shape the Western World".

RELG 210 Non-Western Religious Traditions
TF 8:55am-10:10am Oliver, M
.002 TF 11:45am-1:00pm Oliver, M
How non-Western religious traditions function as systems of symbols, how they interact with both indigenous religious traditions and external religious traditions such as Islam and Christianity, and how they respond to modernization and imperialism.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 3: "The Global and Cross-Cultural Experience".

RELG 225 Meaning and Purpose in the Arts
W 2:35PM-5:15PM Greenberg, G
.002 TF 8:55AM-10:10AM Sigrist, M
Leading theories of the nature, purpose, and meaning of artistic activities and objects examined through writings of major religious thinkers, philosophers, artists, and critics of ancient and modern times. Both Western and non-Western viewpoints are considered. Students projects apply critical ideas to particular works in an art form familiar to them.

This course meets the General Education requirement for Foundation Area 1: "The Creative Arts".

RELG 470/670 Islam
.001 TF 4:00pm-5:15pm Oliver, M
Beginning with the historical contexts 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 the normative understanding of the tradition from both internal and external perspectives, including those of the contemporary era.

RELG 473/673 Hinduism
TF 2:35pm-3:50pm 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 486/686 Gender, Sexuality, and Religion
.001 W 11:45am-2:25pm Weis, L
This course examines how religion has shaped Western understandings of gender, sexuality, and embodiment. Students compare historical religious analysis of gender and sexuality with contemporary interpretations of Western religious texts and traditions. Students consider religious teachings about gender, sexuality, the body, and the nature of the divine, and examine relevant debates emerging from feminist, queer, and post-colonial scholarship. The course explores how Western understandings of gender, sexuality, embodiment, and divinity have cultivated oppressive hierarchies that fail to address human difference in meaningful ways. Students ultimately examine how new texts, traditions, voices, and practices foster resistance to oppression within religious discourses and traditions.

 General Education

GNED-130 Religion without Borders
 MTh 10:20AM-11:35AM Berry, E
This course offers a different kind of introduction to the study of the world's major religious traditions. Rather than approaching each religion as an independent tradition that developed in a vacuum, this course looks at the ways that religions develop in conversation with one another. The course provides students with both basic knowledge about specific traditions and equips them with tools for thinking about how they operate in our global age.

GNED-230 Stories of South Asia: Sovereignty, Strategy, and Satire
TF 10:20AM-11:35AM Pathak, S
Storytelling is a time-honored tradition in South Asia, where tales of adventure and intrigue--such as those told in
epic poems, allegorical fables, and parodic chronicles--have survived and thrived for centuries. Among the most popular topics of these persistent narratives are the struggles and successes of political actors in ancient and medieval India, whose efforts underlie the ethics impinging on the most pressing societal issues affecting South Asia today. In order to understand these modern problems better, we will identify their ideological roots by delving into collections of stories that represent the politically charged genres of epic, allegory, and parody. In addition to examining the contents of these texts closely and situating them in their sociohistorical contexts, we will consider how the texts' implicit teachings continue to resonate even now on the Indian subcontinent and its immediately surrounding areas, where political unity and stability in any respect can be precarious.

 Previous Course Brochures:

Fall 2014 
Spring 2014 Fall 2013 
Spring 2013 Fall 2012
Spring 2012 Fall 2011
Spring 2011 Fall 2010
Spring 2010 Fall 2009
Spring 2009 Fall 2008
Spring 2008 Fall 2007
Spring 2007 Fall 2006
Spring 2006 Fall 2005
Spring 2005 Fall 2004
Spring 2004 Fall 2003
Spring 2003 Fall 2002