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ESF 12: Education as Self-Fashioning: The Greeks on Suffering, Beauty, and Wisdom

In Greek tragedies, a horrific catastrophe falls upon a person and brings on extreme suffering. For the Greeks, tragic plays offered the truth about life's calamities and horrors. The Greeks enjoyed these plays because the dramatic artistry made beauty out of horror and suffering. The Greeks did not believe that they controlled their fates. The Greeks had a "tragic wisdom" that enabled them to confront the hardships of life and the inevitability of death. This helped them to develop courage and resilience. Plato attacked this view and introduced a new kind of hero, the philosopher Socrates. As Plato claimed, we can control our fates by practicing philosophy: this enables us to become wise and ethically good. The philosopher strives for this goodness, which is beautiful in the highest possible way--it is our soul's true desire. Our inner goodness is under our control, so the good and wise person will stay happy even when calamities strike. Plato's optimistic philosophy flew in the face more »
In Greek tragedies, a horrific catastrophe falls upon a person and brings on extreme suffering. For the Greeks, tragic plays offered the truth about life's calamities and horrors. The Greeks enjoyed these plays because the dramatic artistry made beauty out of horror and suffering. The Greeks did not believe that they controlled their fates. The Greeks had a "tragic wisdom" that enabled them to confront the hardships of life and the inevitability of death. This helped them to develop courage and resilience. Plato attacked this view and introduced a new kind of hero, the philosopher Socrates. As Plato claimed, we can control our fates by practicing philosophy: this enables us to become wise and ethically good. The philosopher strives for this goodness, which is beautiful in the highest possible way--it is our soul's true desire. Our inner goodness is under our control, so the good and wise person will stay happy even when calamities strike. Plato's optimistic philosophy flew in the face of Greek tragic wisdom. Plato offered a new way of living, one based on higher education, the development of knowledge, and the pursuit of true beauty and goodness. Do we believe that liberal education improves us ethically? Do we feel optimistic or pessimistic about life? To what extent can we control our lives and fates? How do tragic plays, movies, or TV shows represent the horrors that happen in the real world? Does the art that makes them beautiful and pleasurable help us to confront these horrors? Who are our heroes? What actions or qualities make them heroic? We read six tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, and three Platonic dialogues (Apology, Symposium, Republic). We also read Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, which sets forth the opposition between Greek "tragic wisdom" and Plato's "philosophic knowledge."
Last offered: Autumn 2017 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1

ESF 12A: Education as Self-Fashioning: The Greeks on Suffering, Beauty, and Wisdom

In Greek tragedies, a horrific catastrophe falls upon a person and brings on extreme suffering. For the Greeks, tragic plays offered the truth about life's calamities and horrors. The Greeks enjoyed these plays because the dramatic artistry made beauty out of horror and suffering. The Greeks did not believe that they controlled their fates. The Greeks had a "tragic wisdom" that enabled them to confront the hardships of life and the inevitability of death. This helped them to develop courage and resilience. Plato attacked this view and introduced a new kind of hero, the philosopher Socrates. As Plato claimed, we can control our fates by practicing philosophy: this enables us to become wise and ethically good. The philosopher strives for this goodness, which is beautiful in the highest possible way--it is our soul's true desire. Our inner goodness is under our control, so the good and wise person will stay happy even when calamities strike. Plato's optimistic philosophy flew in the face more »
In Greek tragedies, a horrific catastrophe falls upon a person and brings on extreme suffering. For the Greeks, tragic plays offered the truth about life's calamities and horrors. The Greeks enjoyed these plays because the dramatic artistry made beauty out of horror and suffering. The Greeks did not believe that they controlled their fates. The Greeks had a "tragic wisdom" that enabled them to confront the hardships of life and the inevitability of death. This helped them to develop courage and resilience. Plato attacked this view and introduced a new kind of hero, the philosopher Socrates. As Plato claimed, we can control our fates by practicing philosophy: this enables us to become wise and ethically good. The philosopher strives for this goodness, which is beautiful in the highest possible way--it is our soul's true desire. Our inner goodness is under our control, so the good and wise person will stay happy even when calamities strike. Plato's optimistic philosophy flew in the face of Greek tragic wisdom. Plato offered a new way of living, one based on higher education, the development of knowledge, and the pursuit of true beauty and goodness. Do we believe that liberal education improves us ethically? Do we feel optimistic or pessimistic about life? To what extent can we control our lives and fates? How do tragic plays, movies, or TV shows represent the horrors that happen in the real world? Does the art that makes them beautiful and pleasurable help us to confront these horrors? Who are our heroes? What actions or qualities make them heroic? We read six tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, and three Platonic dialogues (Apology, Symposium, Republic). We also read Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, which sets forth the opposition between Greek "tragic wisdom" and Plato's "philosophic knowledge."
Last offered: Autumn 2017 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1

ESS 107: Control of Nature (EARTHSYS 107)

Think controlling the earth's climate is science fiction? It is when you watch Snowpiercer or Dune, but scientists are already devising geoengineering schemes to slow climate change. Will we ever resurrect the woolly mammoth or even a T. Rex (think Jurassic Park)? Based on current research, that day will come in your lifetime. Who gets to decide what species to save? And more generally, what scientific and ethical principles should guide our decisions to control nature? In this course, we will examine the science behind ways that people alter and engineer the earth, critically examining the positive and negative consequences. We'll explore these issues first through popular movies and books and then, more substantively, in scientific research.
Last offered: Spring 2019 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER

ETHICSOC 20: Introduction to Moral Philosophy (PHIL 2)

What should I do with my life? What kind of person should I be? How should we treat others? What makes actions right or wrong? What is good and what is bad? What should we value? How should we organize society? Is there any reason to be moral? Is morality relative or subjective? How, if at all, can such questions be answered? Intensive introduction to theories and techniques in contemporary moral philosophy.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
Instructors: Maguire, B. (PI)

ETHICSOC 79: Ethics and Leadership in Public Service (CSRE 126C, EDUC 126A, URBANST 126A)

This course explores ethical questions that arise in public service work, as well as leadership theory and skills relevant to public service work. Through readings, discussions, in-class activities, assignments, and guest lectures, students will develop a foundation and vision for a future of ethical and effective service leadership. This course serves as a gateway for interested students to participate in the Haas Center's Public Service Leadership Program.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-4 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER
Instructors: Lobo, K. (PI)

ETHICSOC 106: Human Rights in Comparative and Historical Perspective (CLASSICS 116, HUMRTS 106)

This course examines core human rights issues and concepts from a comparative and historical perspective. In the beginning part of the course we will focus on current debates about the universality of human rights norms, considering the foundation of the international human rights regime and claims that it is a product of western colonialism, imperialism, or hegemony. We will then discuss a series of issues where the debates about universality are particularly acute: gender inequality and discrimination, sexual violence, child marriage and forced marriage more generally, and other related topics. We will also consider the way in which issues of gender-based violence arise in the context of internal and international conflicts.
Last offered: Spring 2019 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER, WAY-SI

ETHICSOC 121N: Ethics of Sports (PHIL 21N)

This seminar will be focused on the ethical challenges that are encountered in sport. We will focus on the moral and political issues that affect the world of sport and which athletes, coaches, sports commentators and fans are faced with. For instance, we will ask questions such as: what is a fair game (the ethics of effort, merit, success)? Is it ethical to train people to use violence (the ethics of martial arts)? Are divisions by gender categories justified and what should we think of gender testing? Is the use of animals in sport ever justified? Which forms of performance enhancements are acceptable in sport (the ethics of drug use and enhancements through technologies)? Should we ban sports that damage the players¿ health? Does society owe social support to people who hurt themselves while practicing extreme sports? nnThe class will be structured around small group discussions and exercises as well as brief lectures to introduce key moral and political concepts (such as fairness, more »
This seminar will be focused on the ethical challenges that are encountered in sport. We will focus on the moral and political issues that affect the world of sport and which athletes, coaches, sports commentators and fans are faced with. For instance, we will ask questions such as: what is a fair game (the ethics of effort, merit, success)? Is it ethical to train people to use violence (the ethics of martial arts)? Are divisions by gender categories justified and what should we think of gender testing? Is the use of animals in sport ever justified? Which forms of performance enhancements are acceptable in sport (the ethics of drug use and enhancements through technologies)? Should we ban sports that damage the players¿ health? Does society owe social support to people who hurt themselves while practicing extreme sports? nnThe class will be structured around small group discussions and exercises as well as brief lectures to introduce key moral and political concepts (such as fairness, equality, freedom, justice, exploitation, etc.). I will also bring guests speakers who are involved in a sport activity at Stanford or who have worked on sports as part of their academic careers. By the end of the seminar, students will have a good understanding of the various ethical challenges that surround the world of sport. They will be able to critically discuss sport activities, norms, modes of assessments and policies (on campus and beyond). They will also be prepared to apply the critical ethical thinking that they will have deployed onto other topics than sports. They will have been introduced to the normative approach to social issues, which consists in asking how things should be rather than describing how things are. They will be prepared to take more advanced classes in ethics, political theory, as well as moral and political philosophy.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER

ETHICSOC 130: 20th Century Political Theory: Liberalism and its Critics (PHIL 171P, POLISCI 130)

In this course, students learn and engage with the debates that have animated political theory since the early 20th century. What is the proper relationship between the individual, the community, and the state? Are liberty and equality in conflict, and, if so, which should take priority? What does justice mean in a large and diverse modern society? The subtitle of the course, borrowed from a book by Michael Sandel, is "Liberalism and its Critics" because the questions we discuss in this class center on the meaning of, and alternatives to, the liberal idea that the basic goal of society should be the protection of individual rights. Readings include selections from works by John Rawls, Hannah Arendt, Robert Nozick, Michael Sandel, Iris Marion Young, and Martha Nussbaum. No prior experience with political theory is necessary.
Terms: Win | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER

ETHICSOC 130A: Classical Seminar: Origins of Political Thought (CLASSICS 181, CLASSICS 381, PHIL 176A, PHIL 276A, POLISCI 230A, POLISCI 330A)

Political philosophy in classical antiquity, centered on reading canonical works of Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle against other texts and against the political and historical background. Topics include: interdependence, legitimacy, justice; political obligation, citizenship, and leadership; origins and development of democracy; law, civic strife, and constitutional change.
Terms: Win | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: GER:DB-Hum, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER

ETHICSOC 131S: Modern Political Thought: Machiavelli to Marx and Mill (POLISCI 131L)

This course offers an introduction to the history of Western political thought from the late fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. We will consider the development of ideas like individual rights, government by consent, and the protection of private property. We will also explore the ways in which these ideas continue to animate contemporary political debates. Thinkers covered will include: Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.
Terms: Spr | Units: 5 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER
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