This class introduces students to philosophy through a focus on the original texts and ideas that have formed the discipline. Our Fall semester begins with an analysis of the Ancient Greek philosophy of Plato and Aristotle and concludes by considering the thought of the High Middle Ages. While examining the texts and ideas of the most influential thinkers in these periods, we focus on fundamental questions like, What does it mean to say that we know something? What does it mean when we talk of existence, not only of human existence, or physical existence, but of existence in the broadest sense? Furthermore, Is there such a thing as the good life, a universally-desirable way to live, or are values only relative to each individual? The underlying principle of the course is that while there are many skills to be gained in studying philosophy, the activity of thinking is, above all, worthwhile in itself.

This course is an historically-conscious analysis of various normative stances in environmental ethics integrated with a sustained consideration of how to apply this ethical theory to modern life. Topics may include deep and shallow ecology, biocentrism, eco-feminism, environmental justice, environmental virtue ethics, the ambiguous role of technology in the environmental crisis, the ethics of the green economy, the ethics of green public policy, a survey of various locally-employed environmental initiatives. Recommended preparation: PHIL 2213.

This course explores in detail one of the most important and complex texts in the history of philosophy, Augustine’s Confessions. Through a mixture of seminar-style discussions, lectures, and student presentations, the class will examine the text's principal philosophical themes, among which are the analysis of the self, the relation between reason and faith, the metaphysical concept of embodied (rather than abstract) truth, and the philosophical questions: What is time?, What is evil?, What is peer-pressure?, and What is addiction?  The course will also consider the question of how to read the work as a whole: Does Confessions have a unified structure, or is it a loose collection of separate parts, as some scholars have argued?