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Courses

Get a feel for the exciting variety of courses taught at Marlboro.

This is a list of courses that faculty felt was representational of the courses offered. It is not a complete list of courses, some courses are offered yearly, while others are infrequent. A course may be inspired by events or strong interests and taught only once.

Most advanced work is in the form of tutorials on specific subjects, a collaboration between one faculty member and one student or a handful of students.

Philosophy

Antigone and Philosophy
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2013

The figure of Antigone has long been the focus of discussions of sexual difference, justice, ethics, competing obligations, law, and how the individual is related to the state.   Beginning with a reading of the Theban plays, Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone, we will trace the themes raised by Antigone’s burial of her brother and thereby her transgression of the law.  We will also be exploring the differences and similarities between how poets and philosophers articulate their views.  Much of the course will then be devoted to careful readings of Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Poetics and Politics.  In the final weeks of the class we will turn to interpretations of Antigone by more recent thinkers from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2012

This course will be an exploration of Buddhist philosophical accounts of consciousness, language, knowledge and wisdom, the nature of reality, ethics, and the nature and purpose of human existence.  We will begin with a careful study of early Theravda texts.  Then we will devote considerable attention to Nagarjuna's (second century, India) Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, which is often thought to be the most important text in Buddhist philosophy.  We will then explore how later thinkers in India, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam engaged in diverse ways with each other and with the questions posed by Nagarjuna and his Theravada predecessors.  We will focus particular attention on Mipham's (nineteenth century, Tibet) Beacon of Certainty.

Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

CONTEMPORARY CONTINENTAL PHILOSOPHY
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Spring 2012

This course will explore some of the most important texts in twentieth-century “continental” philosophy. While some of the authors we will read come from elsewhere—for example the Caribbean or South Asia—all of them are influenced by or engaged with, or are the most significant thinkers in the dominant movements of twentieth-century French and German philosophy, and the work of each of these thinkers has had an enormous impact across the humanities and social sciences.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Environmental Philosophy
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2016

This course is an introduction to prominent questions and themes in environmental philosophy. We will begin with a study of moral and metaphysical approaches to philosophical questions of animals, nature and the place of human beings in the environment. Then we will consider a number of related issues in environmental philosophy, including questions of justice, environmental racism, gender, place, wilderness, nature climate change, practice and the role of philosophy in the context of environmental crisis.

Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2017

This tutorial is devoted to a careful reading of Hegel's The Phenomenology of Spirit.

Heidegger's Being & Time
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Spring 2014

This course will begin with two weeks on Descartes, Kant, and Husserl to help understand some of the background of Heidegger’s work.  The rest of the semester will then be devoted to a close reading of Being and Time.  Being and Time is a notoriously challenging and often deeply rewarding text, and is widely regarded as the most important work in twentieth century European philosophy.  It is most famous for its phenomenological inquiries into questioning; interpretation; being-with-others; being-in-the-world; facing death; authentic and inauthentic existence; freedom; meaning; conscience; and care. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Mindfulness
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2013

This course is an introduction to the related themes of mindfulness, contemplation, and attention.  We will begin with a careful study of some early Buddhist texts on the cultivation of mindfulness, and then look at how attention and mindfulness have been employed in Buddhism and other religious traditions.  We will also investigate the ways in which mindfulness raises questions concerning emotion, wisdom, ethics, self-cultivation, happiness, and perception.  These questions will be explored from a variety of perspectives, including religious studies, philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, cognitive science, and consciousness studies.  One of our tasks in this course will be to evaluate the ways in which the various contemporary uses of the term “mindfulness” may or may not overlap with more traditional understandings of meditative practices. 

The course will include a meditation lab in addition to more traditional classroom studies.

Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.

Marx, Kierkegaard, & Nietzsche: 19th Century Responses to Hegel
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2010

In the waning years of the Enlightenment, European philosophers were primarily concerned with questions of reason and the subject: how reason can justify itself? is reason autonomous? is the subject autonomous? Kant's critical turn sought to understand the conditions of reason, thereby limiting its reach but also justifying it. Hegel attempted to extend and complete Kant's project, providing both a more historically informed account of the conditions of reason and the promise of transcending Kantian limits. In this course we will examine the nineteenth century philosophers who posed some of the most significant challenges to Hegel's project: Schopenhauer, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche. Our focus will be on the relation of the subject to history, ideology, reason, morality, religion, politics, economics, and culture, and how philosophical reflections on these issues were dramatically transformed in the context of modernity. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

MODERN PHILOSOPHY
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Spring 2010

Philosophers refer to the Early Modern period as the time between the late sixteenth and the early nineteenth centuries, when changes in European culture and scientific and political revolutions resulted in new modes of thought and practice that have come to characterize modernity. In this course we will primarily focus on the epistemological and metaphysical theories of some of the most prominent Early Modern philosophers, thinkers who sought to analyze and describe the new world that was emerging, but also contributed in significant ways to its shape. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

Moral Philosophy
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2012

What is a “good” life?  What makes an action “good”?  What is the foundation for moral action and ethics?  Or, is there in fact no adequate foundation for morality?  Through careful readings of classic philosophical texts we will consider these questions, and other themes, including: the role of character, virtue, and vice in a good life; the properties of right or wrong actions; how our understanding of what it means to be human guides our understanding of the good; the relation between reason and emotion in ethics; morality and cultural context; ethics and the rejection of objective moral value; and the relation between universality and singularity in moral life. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

Phenomenology
(4.00 Credits — Advanced)

Fall 2015

Phenomenology constitutes one of the most significant developments in twentieth-century philosophy; it has deeply influenced philosophy in the West, and also informs concepts and methods across the humanities and social sciences. We will begin with an analysis of the methodologies and foundational concepts of Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, including the phenomenological reduction, the intentional structure of consciousness, the lifeworld, meaning, truth, knowledge, the proper relationship between philosophy and science, and the critique of representationalism. We will then move from Husserl's work to that of several of his successors who were inspired by it and developed their own approaches to phenomenology. In particular we will focus on phenomenological approaches to the body, art, race, hermeneutics, gender, technology, and relations with others. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

Philosophy of Art & Aesthetics
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Spring 2014

This course is an introduction to the most significant philosophical issues raised by the production and experience of art: the nature of art, aesthetic experience, aesthetic properties, taste, beauty, imagination, art and truth, aesthetic judgment, aesthetic interpretation, expression, representation, aesthetic objects, art and emotion, art and ethics, art and society, art and nature, art and economics, art and culture, etc. We will address these issues through careful readings of some of the most important texts in the history of Western philosophy of art as well as significant contemporary writings in philosophical aesthetics. The final part of the course will be specifically devoted to the nature and questions raised by contemporary art. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

Philosophy of Poetry
(1.00 Credit — Introductory)

Spring 2014

The course will acquaint students with selected important texts on the philosophy of poetry, beginning with Socrates and eventually moving to the work of contemporary philosophers. Students will also examine poetry, including some of their own choosing, to consider how these philosophical ideas can enrich - or problematize - our feelings about poems and our interpretations of them. The course's materials will sometimes straddle the line between "philosophy" proper and literary criticism, providing an opportunity for students interested in both subjects to explore the boundaries between disciplines. (Student taught course by Adam Halwitz.) Note: This is not a poetry writing course. Prerequisite: None

Reading RLP: The Ancient World
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2012

A modified version of Marlboro's core humanities class, RLP, this class will focus on texts from the ancient world. Besides reading and discussing Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Euripides, Epictetus, and Lucretius we will consider what it means to read these Great Books in the United States at a time when justice and stability are in short supply.

Seminar in Religion, Literature & Philosophy I
(4.00 Credits — Introductory)

Fall 2015

This is the first semester of a year-long seminar devoted to classic texts in the Western tradition. In particular, this course will raise questions about power, knowledge, and the human good through careful study of epics, tragedies, and philosophy. The Seminar in Religion, Literature, and Philosophy is recommended for students of any level intending to do Plan work in the humanities. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor

The Philosophy and Psychology of Happiness
(4.00 Credits — Intermediate)

Fall 2013

This course is an introduction to theories of happiness and empirical research on human well-being.  Many ancient and modern philosophers have held happiness to be the highest good, and most people seem to want to be happy.  However, there are many different notions of what happiness is.  Does happiness consist in pleasure, in virtuous character, in contentment, in augmenting passionate desires, in satisfying desires, or in extirpating desires?  And how is happiness related to goodness and reason?  Can evil people be happy?  What about those who are thoroughly deluded?  And what does the relatively young field of positive psychology tell us about the nature of happiness and how to be happy?  Can this empirical research help us understood what actually makes us happy?  And if so, how ought this empirical research bear on philosophical questions of happiness, including how happiness relates to well-being, public policy, education, empathy, the satisfaction of desires, etc.? Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

For Philosophy offerings, also see:

African-American Political Thought
American Political Thought
ANGLO-AMERICAN POLITICAL IMAGINATION
Contemporary Political & Social Thought
Debating the Good
Plan Writing Seminar
Seminar in Religion, Literature, & Philosophy II
Spinoza and Freedom
Thinking Politically
Wrestling with Ancestors: Introduction to Confucianism & Daoism

Detours

(a mostly random selection of Marlboro microdestinations)