This course introduces the basic concepts and theories of ethics and applies them to some of the most widely discussed issues of the day. Students examine ethical issues that arise in a biomedical context, such as euthanasia, eugenics, reproductive control, lying to patients, and the right to health care.
We demand that our politicians tell us the truth and that our government be transparent. We expect policymakers to be knowledgeable and the public to be educated. We anticipate disagreements and depend on experts to inform our decisions. But are these demands, expectations, anticipations, and dependencies reasonable? What is the value of truth and knowledge in democracies? This course subjects various problems and policies in the political arena to rigorous philosophical scrutiny, with the goal of discovering the deeper principles and complications underlying them. What is the moral standing... Read more about GOVT E-1058 Ignorance, Lies, Hogwash, and Humbug: On Truth and Knowledge in Democracies
This course explores critical analysis of classical and contemporary theories of justice, including discussion of present-day applications. Topics include affirmative action, income distribution, same-sex marriage, the role of markets, debates about rights (human rights and property rights), arguments for and against equality, and dilemmas of loyalty in public and private life. The course invites learners to subject their own views on these controversies to critical examination. The principal readings for the course are texts by Aristotle, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John... Read more about GOVT E-1045 Justice
This course covers American poetry in cultural context through the year 1850. The course begins with Puritan poets some orthodox, some rebel spirits who wrote and lived in early New England. Focusing on Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, and Michael Wigglesworth, among others, we explore the interplay between mortal and immortal, Europe and wilderness, solitude and sociality in English North America. The second part of the course spans the poetry of America's early years, directly before and after the creation of the Republic. We examine the creation of a national identity through the lens of an... Read more about ENGL E-182 Poetry in America: From the Mayflower to Emerson
Focuses on the Aeneid, paradigmatic epic of the West, from various perspectives, involving literary aesthetics and translation theory, how poems work, Homeric and other intertextuality, concepts of heroism and anti-heroism, individual choice vs. public responsibility, critique of empire then, now, and in between. Concurrent attention to Virgil tradition in early Christianity, Dante, Milton, Dryden, the Romantics, post-WWI Modernists; reception in music, art, and iconography. Read more about CLAS S-164 Virgil's Aeneid and The Epic Tradition
Death is inevitable, or is it? Is immortality desirable? What is happiness? Is it something we can seek? Is it the same as well-being? Is religion relevant to any of this? This course explores these questions by drawing on the work of contemporary philosophers. We carefully consider their views, debate their conclusions, and uncover the surprising range of philosophical issues on which they depend.
This course, required of all first-year MDiv and MTS students but open to all, serves as an introduction to various approaches to the academic study of religion, from the anthropological and sociological to the philosophical and theological. May only be taken for a letter grade.
Many of us have good reasons for doing this or that, making this decision rather than that, choosing this path over another, etc. There is often a point to these choices that we can identify, and sometimes have thought hard about. But is there a point, is there significance to life as a whole? That is the question about the “meaning of life.” Though the question is notoriously hard to make precise, one way or another it has animated much literature and art, and also much philosophy. Some philosophers have provided disheartening answers: life is suffering, and then it ends; life is absurd, and... Read more about PHIL E -105 The Meaning of Life
During the Middle Ages, Kashmir was known as a “second Benares.” Significantly Kashmir produced numerous persons in almost all the fields of Sanskrit literature and the traditional sciences. However, most of the Kashmiri population gradually turned to Islam in the 14th century. But the (Sārasvata) Kashmiri Brahmins have preserved a number of ancient Vedic traditions and customs. Read more about SAS 129 - The Kashmiri Brahmins and their Traditions
What is a good life? What are we striving for? How do our various strivings connect, conflict, and relate to one another and to the good life that we seek? Much of our thinking about these questions is implicit and, all too often, unexamined. In this course, we will explore different understandings and visions of the good life by drawing on a diverse range of materials from South Asia. Specifically, we will investigate the classical framework of four spheres of human activity, comprising social and moral order (dharma); wealth, power, and political order (artha); love... Read more about PHIL E -110 The Good Life: Learning from Classical India
A study of approaches in the philosophical traditions of the West and the East to the conduct of life. Philosophical ethics has often been understood as meta-ethics: the development of a method of moral inquiry or justification. Here we focus instead on what philosophy has to tell us about the first-order question: How should we live our lives? This year a major concern will be the study and contrast of two such orientations to existence. One is the philosophical tradition focused on ideas of self-reliance, self-construction, and nonconformity (exemplified by Emerson and Nietzsche). The other... Read more about HLS 2392 - The Conduct of Life in Western and Eastern Philosophy
The readings, all in English translation, are the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, seven tragedies (Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Sophocles' two Oedipus dramas, and Euripides' Hippolytus and The Bacchic Women), and two dialogues of Plato (the Apology and the Phaedo, both centering on the last days of Socrates); and from the dialogue On Heroes by an eminent thinker in the second sophistic movement, Philostratus. The recorded lectures are from the HarvardX course The Ancient Greek Hero. The contents are divided into 24 Hours, a term referring to the number of hour-long class meetings in the academic... Read more about CLAS E -116 The Ancient Greek Hero
A close reading of Plato’s Apology and Gorgias, with particular attention paid to the following issues: Socrates’ account of his method(s), Plato’s implicit critique of Socrates, the nature of philosophical conversation, what Plato intends the dramatic interaction of the characters in the Gorgias to tell us about moral psychology, the role of shame in the Gorgias and in ethics, Callicles’ radical skepticism about 'conventional' justice, Socrates'/Plato's proto-theory of the composite soul, Socrates' critique of Athenian politics.
This course offers a reading of a number of major works of Islamic Civilization, for example from the universal chronicle of al-Tabari (d. 923), the forty hadith of al-Nawawi (d. 1277), a work on the lives of the Shi’i Imams by al-Shaykh al-Mufid (d. 1044), the autobiography of al-Ghazali (d. 1111), the Gulistan by Sa’di (d. 1291), the famous Introduction to History by Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), a manual on Sufism by Aisha al-Ba’uniyya (d. 1516), and the description of Paris by al-Tahtawi (d. 1873). The course aims to give students an exposure to different, co-existing cultural traditions... Read more about ISLAMCIV 110 - Major Works of Islamic Civilizations
The religious tradition that we now know as Hinduism originated on the South Asian peninsula and developed over the course of the last 3500 years. The focus of this course will be on “lived religion.” The course takes on a present-past-present format. We will begin with two highly contested topics: Caste and Hindutva (Hinduness or the Hindu essence) to map the terrain. We will then look at the early religious developments in the Indian subcontinent as well as the texts, themes and Hindu philosophies that continue to flourish in the 21st century. Finally, we will return to the present to... Read more about HDS 3330 Hinduism through the Lens of Lived Religion