Plato with Footnotes: Ethics and Politics
Division II; Writing-Intensive;
Also offered Spring 2019
This course addresses a central question in practical philosophy: How should we live? The question has two parts: What is the best life for individuals? And what social and political arrangements make such a life possible? In attempting to answer these questions we also engage related theoretical questions concerning what is real and how we have access to it. We begin with readings from Plato’s Republic—a seminal work in the history of philosophy that illustrates the inseparability of theoretical and practical questions and has exerted a powerful influence on nearly every subsequent attempt to answer these questions in the context of the Western philosophical tradition. While reading the Republic, we also consider some of the best of these attempts in the Western philosophical canon (“footnotes on Plato.” Possible footnotes include Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Adorno, and Foucault as well as contemporary philosophers. We will focus especially on questions concerning assumptions (about human nature, justice, and freedom, and the idea of a good life) that underpin democratic theories.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance, frequent short papers, two 5-page papers (totaling 25 pages) and class participation
Extra Info: not available for the fifth course option
Enrollment Preference: first-year students, prospective and actual majors
Department Notes: meets 100-level PHIL major requirement
Distributions: Division II; Writing-Intensive;
Distribution Notes: WI: This writing intensive course involves writing multiple two page papers that involve identifying arguments or explication of text and critical responses. You will be given regular feedback on short papers in preparation for writing two longer 5 page essays that require you to use the same skills in a more expanded argument.
Attributes: LEAD Ethical Issues of Leadership; LGST Interdepartmental Electives;
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- PHIL 119 - 01 (F) SEM Plato with Footnotes: Ethics