PHIL 115
Personal Identity Spring 2015 (also offered Fall 2014)
Division II Writing Skills
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Through lectures, discussions, close readings and assigned writings, we will consider some of the variety of philosophical questions about the nature of persons, and personal identity through time. Persons are subjects of experiences, have thoughts and feelings, motivation and agency; a person is thought of as continuous over time, and as related to, recognized and respected by other persons. Thus, the concept of person plays a significant role in most branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, moral and political philosophy, and of course in the philosophy of mind. Conceptions of the person are equally important for scientific research programs (especially in psychology), for Law, and for the arts (especially mimetic arts). Questions about persons are thus of central importance for a myriad of our theories and practices, and for the ways in which we live our lives. The aim of this course is to explore and evaluate a number of rival conceptions of persons and personal identity over time. Some of the questions which we will discuss are: What is a person? How do I know that I am one? What constitutes my knowledge of myself as a person, and does that knowledge differ in any significant respect from my knowledge of physical objects and other people? What makes me the particular person that I am, and how is my identity as this individual person preserved over time? While addressing these questions through lectures and class discussions, the course will place special emphasis on developing students’ intellectual skills in the following domains: close, analytical reading; recognizing, reconstructing and evaluating claims and reasons that support them; producing original ideas and arguments; writing clear, polished, well-argued papers.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 3527
Grading: yes pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class attendance, preparedness and participation; small group meetings; weekly short writing assignments
Extra Info: not available for the Gaudino option
Prerequisites: none; open to first year students
Enrollment Preferences: first-years and sophomores
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills

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