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PHIL 13N: "Can good people like bad music?" and other questions

Think of a musical artist you just can't stand to listen to. Chances are, this artist has thousands, if not millions, of adoring fans. That is, what's "bad music" to you is "good music" to others. This fact is not shocking: we all know that people have different tastes in music, and in art more generally. But what does this fact tell us about art, other people, and ourselves? Are some of us right and others of us wrong about what's good and bad music? Is there reason to think that some music is "objectively" better than other music? Can we say that those who like "bad music" are missing something, or mistaken in their tastes? If so, why not think it's us that are mistaken? How much are our own tastes bound up with "who we are"? And what might this mean for our capacity to appreciate tastes which are not our own?nThis seminar is an investigation into these and other questions. Through the specific lens of music, we will explore the nature of artistic taste more generally. Our main cours more »
Think of a musical artist you just can't stand to listen to. Chances are, this artist has thousands, if not millions, of adoring fans. That is, what's "bad music" to you is "good music" to others. This fact is not shocking: we all know that people have different tastes in music, and in art more generally. But what does this fact tell us about art, other people, and ourselves? Are some of us right and others of us wrong about what's good and bad music? Is there reason to think that some music is "objectively" better than other music? Can we say that those who like "bad music" are missing something, or mistaken in their tastes? If so, why not think it's us that are mistaken? How much are our own tastes bound up with "who we are"? And what might this mean for our capacity to appreciate tastes which are not our own?nThis seminar is an investigation into these and other questions. Through the specific lens of music, we will explore the nature of artistic taste more generally. Our main course text will be Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, a popular introduction to our topic. We will also look at and discuss actual album reviews, pieces of music journalism, and news stories. Class meetings will be heavily discussion-based, and students should come to class ready to share, debate, and scrutinize their own musical tastes. Outside of class, students will develop their understanding through a variety of informal and creative writing assignments, such as exploratory journal entries and mock fan letters. Your taste in music may very well change as a result of this seminar, but this is not its aim. The goal is to understand what it means to disagree about art, through which you will learn how to respond more intelligently and empathetically to such disagreements as they come up in your everyday life.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 15N: Freedom, Community, and Morality

Preference to freshmen. Does the freedom of the individual conflict with the demands of human community and morality? Or, as some philosophers have maintained, does the freedom of the individual find its highest expression in a moral community of other human beings? Readings include Camus, Mill, Rousseau, and Kant.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 28: The Literature and Philosophy of Place

Literature and philosophy, primarily, but not exclusively from Latin America, that raises questions about place and displacement through migration and exile, about how location shapes our understanding of ourselves and of our responsibilities to society and environment, about the multiple meanings of home. Among the questions we will consider are the difference between the experiences of people who are at "home" and those who are "away," how one person's claim on home can be another's experience of being invaded, the interdependence of self and place, the multiple meanings of "environment." Readings by Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Carmen Lyra, Jorge Gracia, Otavio Paz, Maria Lugones, among others.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ED | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 60: Introduction to Philosophy of Science (HPS 60)

The nature of scientific knowledge: evidence and confirmation; scientific explanation; models and theories; objectivity; science, society, and values.
Terms: Aut | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 77S: Philosophy of Religion (RELIGST 36)

(Formerly RELIGST 62S) Explores fundamental questions about the existence of God, free will and determinism, faith and reason, through traditional philosophical texts. Course is divided into four sections: first asks what is religion; second surveys the western philosophical tradition from Boethius through Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Kierkegaard regarding the foundation for theist beliefs; third investigates questions mystical experience raises through both western and Buddhist materials; and fourth takes up the ethics of belief, what we have a right to believe, through the Clifford and James debate and the opposing stances of Camus and Pascal.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 80: Mind, Matter, and Meaning

Intensive study of central topics in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language and mind in preparation for advanced courses in philosophy. Emphasis on development of analytical writing skills. Prerequisite: one prior course in Philosophy or permission of instructor.
Terms: Aut, Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 81: Philosophy and Literature (CLASSICS 42, COMPLIT 181, ENGLISH 81, FRENCH 181, GERMAN 181, ITALIAN 181, SLAVIC 181)

Required gateway course for Philosophical and Literary Thought; crosslisted in departments sponsoring the Philosophy and Literature track. Majors should register in their home department; non-majors may register in any sponsoring department. Introduction to major problems at the intersection of philosophy and literature, with particular focus on the question of value: what, if anything, does engagement with literary works do for our lives? Issues include aesthetic self-fashioning, the paradox of tragedy, the paradox of caring, the truth-value of fiction, metaphor, authorship, irony, make-believe, expression, edification, clarification, and training. Readings are drawn from literature and film, philosophical theories of art, and stylistically interesting works of philosophy. Authors may include Sophocles, Chaucer, Dickinson, Proust, Woolf, Borges, Beckett, Kundera, Charlie Kaufman; Barthes, Foucault, Nussbaum, Walton, Nehamas; Plato, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Sartre. Taught in English.
Terms: Win | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 100: Greek Philosophy (CLASSICS 40)

We shall cover the major developments in Greek philosophical thought, focusing on Plato, Aristotle, and the Hellenistic schools (the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Skeptics). Topics include epistemology, metaphysics, psychology, ethics and political theory.
Terms: Aut | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

PHIL 101: Introduction to Medieval Philosophy (PHIL 201)

This course is an introduction to medieval moral philosophy, broadly construed. In addition to doctrines that we would nowadays readily think of as falling within the domain of ethics, we will be looking at closely related topics that might today be thought to belong more properly to metaphysics, the philosophy of religion, or the philosophy of human nature.
Terms: not given this year | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

PHIL 102: Modern Philosophy, Descartes to Kant

Major figures in early modern philosophy in epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. Writings by Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant.
Terms: Spr | Units: 4 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit
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