Classical Chinese philosophy, which lies at the foundation of Asian cultures, is praxis-oriented. Although we find abundant theories in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language, these are put to the service of practical goals such as concerns with leading a good life (ethics and politics) and acting with efficacy (philosophy of action). In this class, while becoming familiar with crucial influential figures such as Confucius and Laozi, students learn to do philosophy from a different worldview and ontological framework to those with which they may be more familiar in the Anglo-European tradition; and to think starting from different assumptions (e.g. relations as opposed to substances), using new concepts (e.g. dao), and adopting alternative philosophical formats (e.g. dialogue, parable).
Study theoretical and practical ethics, reading texts written by authors in various places and contexts, past and present. Coursework and class discussions will spark curiosity and hone our reasoning skills, as we reflect on various approaches to ethical reasoning. We will study timeless questions about good and evil, human nature, animals, relationships, rules, traditions, and societies in this course, as well as unprecedented possibilities and questions facing our world today, as a result of new inventions and technologies.
PHIL 252Social and Political Philosophy
How should a society be governed? What laws should we agree upon and how should we reach consensus? What is oppression and what should resistance to it look like? This course examines influential philosophers in the history of social and political theory and assesses how their philosophical frameworks succeed or fail to provide guidance regarding contemporary political problems and issues. Topics include justice, social contracts, freedom, property, exploitation, oppression, liberation, gender, and race.
Research that Matters
Jerome Clarke ’17 examines political movements as a Mellon Scholar