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ESF 6A: Education as Self-Fashioning: The Wind of Freedom

Stanford's unofficial motto, "the wind of freedom blows," engraved in German on the university seal, invites us the ponder freedom in the context of education. What is the relation between freedom and the "liberal" arts? Does studying free your mind? Does free will even exist? If so, how does education help you develop its potential? This course will look at various authors -- from antiquity through the 20th century -- who have thought about the blessings, burdens, and obligations of human freedom. Beginning with Eve in the Garden of Eden, we will explore how exercising freedom in your personal choices and conduct not only determines your fate as an individual but carries with it a measure of responsibility for the world. We will place special emphasis on the implications of such responsibility in our own time.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2017 | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ESF 7: Education as Self-Fashioning: The Transformation of the Self

Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates and other ancient thinkers examined themselves and found that they did not match up to their own ideals. They thus set out to transform themselves to achieve a good and happy life. What is the good life? How do we change ourselves to live a good and happy life? How do literature and philosophy help us to understand ourselves and to achieve our social, ethical, and personal ideals? In this class, we examine Socrates and Augustine's lives and ideas. Each struggled to live a good and happy life. In each case, they urge us to transform ourselves into better human beings. The first half of the course focuses on the Athenian Socrates, who was put to death because he rejected traditional Greek ideals and and proclaimed a new kind of ethical goodness. The second half focuses on the North African Augustine, an unhappy soul who became a new man by converting to Christianity. These thinkers addressed questions and pr more »
Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates and other ancient thinkers examined themselves and found that they did not match up to their own ideals. They thus set out to transform themselves to achieve a good and happy life. What is the good life? How do we change ourselves to live a good and happy life? How do literature and philosophy help us to understand ourselves and to achieve our social, ethical, and personal ideals? In this class, we examine Socrates and Augustine's lives and ideas. Each struggled to live a good and happy life. In each case, they urge us to transform ourselves into better human beings. The first half of the course focuses on the Athenian Socrates, who was put to death because he rejected traditional Greek ideals and and proclaimed a new kind of ethical goodness. The second half focuses on the North African Augustine, an unhappy soul who became a new man by converting to Christianity. These thinkers addressed questions and problems that we still confront today: What do we consider to be a happy life? Do we need to be good and ethical people to live happily? Is there one correct set of values? How do we accommodate other people's beliefs? Is it possible to experience a transformation of the self? How exactly do we change ourselves to achieve our higher ideals?nFriday lectures will be held 9:30am-10:50am in Bishop Auditorium.
Terms: Aut | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ESF 7A: Education as Self-Fashioning: The Transformation of the Self

Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living.  Socrates and other ancient thinkers examined themselves and found that they did not match up to their own ideals.  They thus set out to transform themselves to achieve a good and happy life.  What is the good life?  How do we change ourselves to live a good and happy life?  How do literature and philosophy help us to understand ourselves and to achieve our social, ethical, and personal ideals? In this class, we examine Socrates and Augustine's lives and ideas.  Each struggled to live a good and happy life.  In each case, they urge us to transform ourselves into better human beings.  The first half of the course focuses on the Athenian Socrates, who was put to death because he rejected traditional Greek ideals and and proclaimed a new kind of ethical goodness.  The second half focuses on the North African Augustine, an unhappy soul who became a new man by converting to Christianity.  These thinkers addressed questi more »
Socrates famously claimed that the unexamined life is not worth living.  Socrates and other ancient thinkers examined themselves and found that they did not match up to their own ideals.  They thus set out to transform themselves to achieve a good and happy life.  What is the good life?  How do we change ourselves to live a good and happy life?  How do literature and philosophy help us to understand ourselves and to achieve our social, ethical, and personal ideals? In this class, we examine Socrates and Augustine's lives and ideas.  Each struggled to live a good and happy life.  In each case, they urge us to transform ourselves into better human beings.  The first half of the course focuses on the Athenian Socrates, who was put to death because he rejected traditional Greek ideals and and proclaimed a new kind of ethical goodness.  The second half focuses on the North African Augustine, an unhappy soul who became a new man by converting to Christianity.  These thinkers addressed questions and problems that we still confront today:  What do we consider to be a happy life?  Do we need to be good and ethical people to live happily?  Is there one correct set of values?  How do we accommodate other people's beliefs?  Is it possible to experience a transformation of the self?  How exactly do we change ourselves to achieve our higher ideals?
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2016 | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ESF 8: Education as Self-Fashioning: Recognizing the Self and Its Possibilities

Some philosophers have argued that we have privileged and direct access to our inner selves. If this were true, it would make self-knowledge perhaps the easiest sort of knowledge to obtain. But there are many considerations that mitigate against this view of self-knowledge. Consider, for example, the slave who is so oppressed that he fully accepts his slavery and cannot even imagine the possibility of freedom for himself. Such a slave fails to recognize his own capacity for freedom and autonomous self-governance. Though the slave is perhaps the extreme case, many people, it seems, fail to recognize the full range of possibilities open to them. In this course, we shall examine both some of the ways in which one¿s capacity for self-recognition may be distorted and undermined and the role of education in enabling a person to fully recognize the self and its possibilities. What constrains the range of possibilities we see as really open to us? Contrary to the Cartesian, we shall argue that more »
Some philosophers have argued that we have privileged and direct access to our inner selves. If this were true, it would make self-knowledge perhaps the easiest sort of knowledge to obtain. But there are many considerations that mitigate against this view of self-knowledge. Consider, for example, the slave who is so oppressed that he fully accepts his slavery and cannot even imagine the possibility of freedom for himself. Such a slave fails to recognize his own capacity for freedom and autonomous self-governance. Though the slave is perhaps the extreme case, many people, it seems, fail to recognize the full range of possibilities open to them. In this course, we shall examine both some of the ways in which one¿s capacity for self-recognition may be distorted and undermined and the role of education in enabling a person to fully recognize the self and its possibilities. What constrains the range of possibilities we see as really open to us? Contrary to the Cartesian, we shall argue that full self-recognition is an often a hard-won achievement. And we shall ask how education might function to give us a less constricted and more liberating sense of the self and its possibilities. We will consider such questions through the lens of philosophy, literature and psychology.nFriday lectures will be held 9:30am-10:50am in Bishop Auditorium.
Terms: Aut | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

ESF 8A: Education as Self-Fashioning: Recognizing the Self and Its Possibilities

Some philosophers have argued that we have privileged and direct access to our inner selves. If this were true, it would make self-knowledge perhaps the easiest sort of knowledge to obtain. But there are many considerations that mitigate against this view of self-knowledge. Consider, for example, the slave who is so oppressed that he fully accepts his slavery and cannot even imagine the possibility of freedom for himself. Such a slave fails to recognize his own capacity for freedom and autonomous self-governance. Though the slave is perhaps the extreme case, many people, it seems, fail to recognize the full range of possibilities open to them. In this course, we shall examine both some of the ways in which one¿s capacity for self-recognition may be distorted and undermined and the role of education in enabling a person to fully recognize the self and its possibilities. What constrains the range of possibilities we see as really open to us? Contrary to the Cartesian, we shall argue that full self-recognition is an often a hard-won achievement. And we shall ask how education might function to give us a less constricted and more liberating sense of the self and its possibilities. We will consider such questions through the lens of philosophy, literature and psychology.
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2017 | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-A-II, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

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."
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2017 | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

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."
Terms: not given this year, last offered Autumn 2017 | Units: 7 | UG Reqs: THINK, WAY-ER, Writing 1 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)

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.
Terms: Spr | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: GER:EC-EthicReas, WAY-ER | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

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 | Grading: Letter or Credit/No Credit

ETHICSOC 21N: 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: not given this year, last offered Spring 2017 | Units: 3 | UG Reqs: WAY-ER | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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