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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Spring 2007

T C PHL610 • Problems of Knowledge and Valuation

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
42865 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
WAG 214

Course Description

What questions led thinkers to take a distinctively philosophical point of view? And what is that point of view? Does it look the same from pagan Greece as from classical China or the Christian era? The first semester concerns classical questions about the good life. What sort of wisdom would enable a human being to live a better life? Can we come to know the nature of virtues such as justice and courage? Is human nature good or bad? Does education fulfill or violate human nature? We start with Plato because his work gives philosophy its first definition. We'll then examine the positions of his student, Aristotle, followed by a lengthy visit to China, with close readings of major texts and special attention to the problem of human nature. After this we will turn to great ethical thinkers of the modern period, Hume, Kant, and Mill. The second semester will take up knowledge and reality--a little more Plato and Aristotle, then Descartes, Hume, and Kant. We will end with recent work on philosophy of mind, especially the problem of free will.

About the Professor Paul Woodruff loves ancient Greek philosophy and literature. In recent years he has been studying the place where these meet, especially the clash between poetry and Plato's writings. He rows a single on Town Lake, builds furniture, and plays the cello.

Grading Policy

Fall: Discussion: 10% Mid-term exam: 25% Final exam: 35% Quizzes: 15% Paper: 15%
Spring: Discussion: 10% Formal oral presentations: 10% Paper: 15% Mid-term exam: 25% Final exam: 25% Quizzes: 15%
Pass/fail journals required both semesters.


Plato; Euthyphro, Crito, and Apology Aristotle, Ethics Selections from Confucius, Meng Tze, Hsun Tze Selections from Hume Kant, Groundwork Mill, Utilitarianism


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