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Announcement: PHIL special topics course for spring


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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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I will be teaching a philosophy special topics course this spring (PHIL 4900 Special Topics: What is an Educated Person?), MWF 2:00-2:50.  This is a full course version of the CHASS reading group I have run the past few years.  The book order has just been submitted, so in  a day or two the course should show up on Banner for registration.

The class will investigate the purpose and value of liberal education.  Some questions to be considered: What is the end of liberal education?  How does liberal education differ from vocational education (job training)?  What is the place of books in education?  What underlying metaphysics of man, if any, is implied by liberal education?  Can a university be truly secular / metaphysically neutral, or must it make metaphysical commitments?  What challenges are facing the modern university, and what opportunities?

Texts / authors read: Gilgamesh, Plato, Aristotle, Newman, Hobbes, Descartes, Bacon, Dewey, Nussbaum, Lewis, and more!

No prerequisites required.  I expect that students will leave the class (a) having thought deeply about some interesting questions, (b) having developed a deeper understanding of the ends of education and (c) having developed the capacity to speak clearly and powerfully about the value of a liberal arts education.


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