PHIL 117 Spring 2013 Arguing about God (W)

"Faith is a fine invention," according to Emily Dickinson's poem, "when gentlemen can see; but microscopes are prudent in an emergency." This introduction to philosophy will see how far the microscopes of reason and logic can carry us in traditional arguments about the existence and nature of God. We will closely analyze classical arguments by Augustine, Avicenna, Aquinas, Anselm, Maimonides, Descartes, and others. Pascal's wager is a different approach: it argues that even though proof of the existence of God is unavailable, you will maximize your expected utility by believing. We will examine the wager in its original home of Pascal's Pensees, and look at William James' related article, "The Will to Believe". The millennia old problem of whether human suffering is compatible with God's perfection is called "the problem of evil". We will examine this issue in Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, classic sources and contemporary articles. Students should be aware that, in the classic tradition, this class resembles a logic course.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: frequent short papers
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Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preference: first-years and sophomores
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Divisional Attributes: Division II,Writing Intensive
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Enrollment Limit: 19
Expected Enrollment: 19
Class Number: 3388
PHIL117-01(S) SEM Arguing about God (W) Division 2: Social StudiesWriting Intensive Steven B. Gerrard
MWF 12:00 PM-12:50 PM Hopkins Roger Room 3388
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