In 2021-22 I am teaching the following courses at the University of Chicago:
Philosophical Perspectives I (Autumn 2021)
Course Description: This is the first of three classes in the Philosophical Perspectives Core Sequence. Traditionally, the study of philosophy has centered on the pursuit of three topics: truth, beauty, and goodness. Our aim in the first term of the sequence will be to understand something about what these topics are and why we should be interested in studying them. We will read a variety of influential texts from the Western philosophical tradition, with emphasis this term on work by Ancient Greek thinkers. As we do so, we will articulate and begin to answer a perennial set of philosophical questions, such as: What is the nature of reality? What kinds of things can human beings know? Why is knowledge important? What is the good? What is virtue? How should we live? And whose job is it to answer these questions?
Our primary texts will be Sophocles’s Oedipus; Plato’s Meno, The Apology of Socrates, and Crito; Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Martin Luther King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”, and Augustine’s Confessions.
Simone de Beauvoir as Philosopher (Winter 2022)
Description: This class will survey the philosophical work of twentieth-century Existentialist thinker Simone de Beauvoir. Best known as the author of the landmark second-wave feminist book, The Second Sex, de Beauvoir wrote extensively on topics in ethics, politics, and phenomenology. She also published several novels, one of which (The Mandarins) won the prestigious Prix Goncourt. Even so, the vast majority of de Beauvoir’s work is rarely studied in either France or the United States. Our goal in this class will be to take de Beauvoir seriously as one of the most important philosophical thinkers of the twentieth century. We will aim to understand her intellectual program holistically, with emphasis on the way in which her Existentialist concerns informed her work in literature and feminism.
Works to be read include The Ethics of Ambiguity, The Second Sex, The Mandarins, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, and selected essays. Classes and readings will be in English; background knowledge of post-Kantian European philosophy is helpful but not necessary.