Course Descriptions

Study classical texts from Plato to Wittgenstein. 

The curriculum is divided into historical and topical courses as well as research seminars and cross-listed courses. The historical courses deal with an epoch or an individual thinker; the topical courses with an area (e.g. ethics or metaphysics) or an issue (e.g. immortality or potentiality). But both types of courses are, in different ways, historical and topical. The topical courses draw from the entire textual history and the historical courses engage the issues through the thinker or thinkers studied. Research seminars especially encourage writing for publication for doctoral students while cross-listed courses are typically taken with upper-level undergraduates. All courses aim to encourage philosophical reflection, to arrive at the very "first things."

Proseminar 

A ten-week seminar concerning many of the professional skills required for success as graduate students and future professors and scholars. This course is now required of all PhD students.

Cross-Listed Courses (5000 Level)

5000-level courses include a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students, including some undergraduates with majors other than philosophy. In addition, some undergraduate courses are cross-listed as graduate courses, designated by the numbers from 5301 to 5310, in which the instructor provides additional requirements for the graduate participants. Only two such courses may count toward completion of PhD requirements. There is no such limit for courses numbered 5311 and higher, which include courses such as Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of History, and Philosophy of Technology—though graduate students should remember, again, that these courses may include undergraduate non-majors.

Historical Sequence

Courses offered at the 6000 level are historical in orientation. Those designated as “text seminars” are particularly helpful as guides to advanced study of the history of philosophy. Text seminars covering six historical periods (Antiquity, Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, the Later Middle Ages, Early Modernity, Later Modernity, and Postmodernity) are offered on a three-year cycle; each seminar covers one or more important works from the relevant period and prepares students for independent study of the period as a whole. Although the historical courses are not sufficient to prepare for the comprehensive exam, they are an especially important element in that preparation.

Topical Courses

Courses at the 7000 level are topically oriented. Courses addressing the central topics of contemporary philosophical inquiry—Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology, Philosophy of God, Metaphysics, and the Nature of Tradition—are offered on a regular basis. Other topical courses, such as Aesthetics, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Nature, and Philosophy of Science, are offered from time to time; many of these courses are offered at other times as cross-listed undergraduate courses (see the discussion of 5000-level courses above). The 7000-level courses are also an important element in the preparation for comprehensive exams.

Research Seminars

These seminars are usually limited to doctoral students, and they reflect current faculty research interests. They are offered at the 8000 level. Although all graduate courses aim to prepare the student to engage in independent scholarship, these courses especially encourage writing for publication.

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