Philosophy is the love of wisdom, and experience teaches us that wisdom comes from asking questions. This is what we do in philosophy. In asking questions we are working in the spirit of Socrates who famously claimed, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Philosophy students at CSS examine questions about ethics, meaning, the nature of reality, what it means to know, social justice, and more.
The main benefit of the study of philosophy is developing the ability to think critically and for oneself. More than problem solving, it is the ability to make informed and reflective judgments in ambiguous situations, which is highly valued in all professions. Nationwide, Philosophy majors earn top scores on exams like the LSAT, MCAT, and GMAT, and by mid-career are among the highest earners in their chosen fields. Recent CSS Philosophy majors and have utilized their degree to expand their career development in exciting ways, including to become educators, lawyers, artists, and administrators. The Department also offers a minor in Philosophy, which students can tailor to meet their interests and career goals.
The Philosophy Department offers these programs:
Thinking about thinking, this course studies arguments and proofs.Deductive and inductive inferential reasoning are used to assess validity and strength of arguments and significant theorems. Students will learn the limits of reason and where it can legitimately extend and where it enters into paradox and contradiction.
Introduces students to the philosophical perspective on issues of human concern from what it means to exist as a person, to the nature and existence of God, including freedom/determinism, the nature of reality, and the good society. It practices students in critical thinking about living a good life.
Explores a variety of dimensions of being human in seeking to answer the question, "Who am I?" Issues read about and discussed include whether or not there is a specific "human" nature shared by all; the role of gender in reaching an understanding of what it means to be a person; tensions between freedom and community; the human relationship to nature and whether or not there is any spiritual dimension to existence. Study of both traditional and contemporary writers is included.
Study of major ethical theories, critical examination of the adequacy of each theory and an attempt at making decisions regarding contemporary issues by using some of the theories. Topics, which vary, include current personal and social issues.
What is religion? This is the question this course seeks to answer from a philosophical perspective. Answering this question demands an examination of topics such as: the existence of God; the nature of God in Western religions; theodicy (the problem of evil); faith and reason; religious experience; religious pluralism; feminism and philosophy of religion; science and religion; modernity and religion; non-Western philosophy of religion; and life without religion.
What is the good society? What is the relationship between the individual and society? What does it mean to think of humans as political animals? What is justice? The course explores a variety of answers to these questions in the context of political issues such as civil disobedience, obligation to the law/conscience, liberty and equality, racism, feminism, multiculturalism and the possibility of Utopian communities.
Ethics is a sub-discipline in the academic field of philosophy that deals with moral principles that guide human behavior. Environmental ethics is itself a sub-discipline of ethics that examines human interaction with the natural world. This examination takes into account questions such as: Should the natural world have rights? Should animals have rights? How much should we be willing to sacrifice to ensure the continuation of the biotic sphere? What does our generation owe future generations (Intergenerational justice)?
Examines concepts like health and illness, ability and disability, and happiness and well-being from a philosophical perspective. It explores the philosophical aspects of some of the central questions in medicine and health care: What is health? What is health in relation to happiness and human well-being? What are suffering and healing? What are the goals of medicine and what is the purpose of health care? To what extent are health, disease, and illness biological realities or social constructions? How have concepts of health, disease, and illness been used to harm people? What is mental health and illness, why are their meanings contested, and how has psychiatry been abused? Further, the course considers such issues as the different types of knowledge in health care, medical knowledge and power, human rights and health care, ethical principles and practices in health care, and current ethical dilemmas and controversies in the field.
Beauty & Death surveys different aesthetic theories of the sublime throughout the history of philosophy. Sublime experiences, whether found in nature or art are traditionally considered the most intense of all possible aesthetic feelings. Whereas beauty promotes notions of formal unity harmonizing within limits, the sublime contemplates chaos, death, and feelings that overwhelm the human imagination. The resulting affect has been at times called a feeling of 'negative pleasure' where feelings of beauty and horror become inextricably entangled. As an aesthetic concept the sublime has changed drastically in meaning from classical Greek thought to Enlightenment philosophy and its contemporary rebirth in postmodern aesthetics. However, what all these theories have in common is a focused attention placed on the problem of contemplating the unknown. Thus, in relation to art, nature, and perception the primary aesthetic question of the sublime is deeply involved with dilemma of how to 'present the unpresentable.' Readings of primary texts will be supplemented by illustrative paintings, music, poetry, fiction, secondary literature, and weekly screenings of films that both correspond and clarify each week's readings.
Philosophy and religious systems, shamanistic and priesthood societies, reversion and amalgamation religions, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, philosophy and social movements.
Roots of Western thought examined as found in the writings of the ancient Greeks through a variety of time periods and genres in differing combinations: Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Thucydides, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Plato, and/or Aristotle.
Introductes influential Christian, Islamic, and Jewish philosophical thought from the 5th - 15th centuries on topics like goodness, evil, character, conscience, free will, and the nature of God. Questions that may be examined include: "what does it mean to have free will (and do we have it)?", "what does it mean to be a good or bad person?", and "can anyone know if there is a God?".
Explores the works of philosophers from the 16th through 19th centuries including Descartes, Hume, and Kant. Their texts serve as the starting point for reflecting critically on major themes of modern thought related to science, art, religion, and politics.
Examines 20th and 21st century philosophers and philosophical movements with a focus on critical reading of texts and the interplay between philosophy and other ways of constructing a meaningful contemporary life.
Examines ethical issues of contemporary concern. Course includes issues relating to medicine, government, business and interpersonal relationships.
Discuss contemporary ethical problems that arise related to buying, selling, and using products and services. Topics vary and can include the environmental impact of human consumption, sweatshop labor, animal rights, surrogate pregnancy, whether or not people should "shop their values".
Examines theoretical accounts of the relation between women and men in present society, identification of assumptions within the feminist accounts, and evaluation of proposals for change.
How is what is real known and categorized? Why have people and peoples differed in their accounts? Course looks at the major theories in Western metaphysics and compares and contrasts them with metaphysical views of other cultures.
An upper division Writing Intensive seminar in which students explore the specialized field of Aesthetics within Philosophy. Course topics vary in their relationship to analyzing processes of perception and forming judgments of taste. Students will demonstrate their abilities to read and analyze primary and secondary literature relating to aesthetic theory by applying these course materials to their own life experiences through discussions, presentations, and written critical reflections.
Looks at such questions as: What is science and what is it not? What are theories, models, laws and hypotheses? How do scientific theories change? What is the method and domain of science? Does science have a monopoly on "truth" about the world or does it ever achieve it?
Emphasizes using the critical, analytical, and communication skills participants have learned in their philosophical studies. This is a course for Philosophy majors who will work closely with each other and faculty in exploring a selected topic or text in seminar format.
A topic of student's own choosing is pursued with guidance of instructor.