Philosophical Perspectives on the Humanities

Humanities 11600 09, Winter 2006


The Notes were last updated sometime around 11 AM on Wednesday, 14 January 2009.

  1. At last, I have graded your papers and submitted the grades. Please accept my apologies. I’ve been working out the contract for my next job, at Pomona College, and got horribly behind with this. Not that that’s an excuse, mind you. Anyway, I’m going to ask Gary and/or Kristin to return your papers in class tomorrow, the 13th of April (I would do it myself, but I’m teaching at that time too). If you’re not taking either Kristin Boyce’s section of the Core or Introduction to Ethics, I’ll put your papers on the black shelves outside of Stuart 202. (12 April)
  2. Yes, you have grades for all your courses but this one. Life has been complicated for me, I have been traveling, will be traveling, and will only get the grading done during first week of the spring term. Rest asured that your papers are safe and sound and that nothing is wrong. On your end. (22 March)
  3. I know you’re taking exams and writing papers for other classes now. But you showed up here nonetheless. So instead of aimlessly surfing, how about taking a look at a debate between avowed atheist Daniel Dennett and avowed theist Richard Swinburne? Each author represents his side well and you might just recognize a few of their arguments. (12 March)
  4. Many of you know what you’re going to do here. But more of you are trying to find out what grabs you. But here, trial and error is an expensive way of doing that. I can sometimes help. I do a decent job of keeping in touch with students and I know faculty members who are especially devoted to College teaching. So, in some cases, I can put you in touch with people who can give you advice about especially good courses, professors, and groups that fit your interests. Here’s one tip that I can pass on right away. If you liked the way I do things (a big if, I grant you), check out Jim Leitzel. He runs the program on public policy. I haven’t seen him in action, but I have heard him talk about teaching and I found the similarity spooky. On the other hand, if you didn’t like my style, well, you know what to do. (8 March)
  5. Hey, if you missed class, you missed out on Jon Handy’s cookies. I had two myself. Mmmm. Thanks Jon! Yet another reason why I’ll miss you all. (To SD: proof Will was here). (7 March)
  6. At the end of our last class, multiple people asked for paper topics on miracles. As your obliging employee, I have come up with not one or two but four paper topics on miracles. I emailed these to you just minutes ago and you can download them here, as always. It’s up to you to decide if you want to adopt a paper topic this late in the game. (4 March)
  7. One more announcement about class tomorrow. It’s going to be class picture day! Provided I remember my camera. You don’t have to participate, but I would appreciate it if you did. Hey, I’m a sentimental kind of guy. (1 March)
  8. Uh, the papers obviously weren’t available this morning. I was exceptionally exhausted last night and simply had to sleep. I’m not as young and tough as you. They’ll be available in class tomorrow. Promise. (1 March)
  9. I’m having second thoughts about something I wrote in the notes yesterday about miracles. So I added a short update expressing them. (1 March)
  10. There has been a slight change in plans for the last week. For next week (28 Feb and 2 March), read §10, parts 1 and 2, respectively, rather than §9. That was a mistake on my part: I’m not so good with roman numbers. For the final day of class, Gary and I thought it would be more fun to talk about §11 than §12. So let’s read §11 for the 7th of March. It’s about arguments from design. They’re in the news these days. (23 Feb)
  11. The third paper topics were emailed to you a few minutes ago. They’re also sitting on this website, ready for download any time. (23 Feb)
  12. The Hobbes reading for Tuesday is rather long. I would take it in this order. (19 Feb)
    1. §§ 1-4, pp. 15-16.
    2. §§ 25-37, pp. 36-42.
    3. The rest, pp. 17-36. Pay special attention to Hobbes’s arguments about why advice (“consultation”), punishment, and the like would not be pointless (“vain”) if we lack free will.
  13. So I have finished grading the papers and, boy, you all are good. Even the few that I thought missed some big points were still very sharp. Gosh. As a reward, here are some pictures, courtesy of Thoemmes Press. (8 Feb)
  14. On Tuesday morning, I changed the wording of some of the topics to make them clearer. They’re basically the same, but if you copied the topics on Monday night, you might want to download the new version. (7 Feb)
  15. OK, I was a little late with the second paper topics. They’re available on the left. I’ll bring copies to class tomorrow as well. (6 Feb)
  16. More on the contemporary relevance of the image of god doctrine. (5 Feb)
  17. Here’s a nifty resource. Jonathan Bennett, a first-rate scholar, is ‘translating’ texts in early modern philosophy into modern English prose. It’s worth a look if you’re finding Descartes, Hobbes, or Hume hard going. And really, if you aren’t finding them difficult, you probably aren’t reading carefully enough. (4 Feb)
  18. Please turn in two copies of your papers: one for me (in Stuart 202) and one for Gary (Stuart 216, the room with the double doors). (31 Jan)
  19. I left copies of the Hobbes and Malebranche reading with the Humanities Copy service. They should be available tomorrow (Friday) morning in Walker 003 [map]. (26 Jan)
  20. Pay attention to this. We will meet next Tuesday (31 January) to talk about Hamlet (and Hobbes, but I promise to be brief about that). We will not meet next Thursday, 2 February. (26 Jan)
  21. Here’s a bit of free advice for your papers: answer the question and be fairly direct about it. If I asked you what time it is, you wouldn’t start by saying “since the ancient greeks, man has wondered about the nature of time … .” I hope. (25 Jan)
  22. Writing seminars are being held in the Stuart reading room. You access it through the Harper library: turn left immediately after entering. (24 Jan)
  23. This is a super busy traveling week for me. So I won’t have any notes about this week’s classes on the Third Meditation for a bit. I’ll try to post one comprehensive review of this week’s classes when I return next week. (19 Jan)
  24. I won’t be able to make my normal office hours this Thursday, 19 January. (17 Jan)
  25. Gary Jaeger’s office hours are Thursdays 12:15-1:15. You can find him outside of Stuart 202. (17 Jan)
  26. I took another crack at the end of the Second Meditation. (13 Jan)
  27. Mark your calendars. Gary has reserved Stuart 101 on Monday January 30 from 6-10pm for the screening of Hamlet. The room seats 75 so there should be plenty of room if you have friends in other sections who want to see it. We think we’ll be doing the Laurence Olivier version, which I, for one, have never seen. Oh boy! Thanks Gary! (6 Jan)
  28. The notes are up and running. (5 Jan)


Th 19 Jan: first paper topics distributed [pdf].

Mon 30 Jan: Hamlet, 6-10 pm, Stuart 101. [map]

Fr 3 Feb: first paper due.

Th 2 Feb (ok, 7 Feb): second paper topics distributed [pdf].

Mon 20 Feb: second paper due.

Th 23 Feb: third paper topics distributed. (Updated 4 March) [pdf]

Fr 10 Mar: third paper due.


Tu, Th 10:30 - 12, Cobb 302 [map]


Modernized texts

Non-modernized searchable texts

Oxford English Dictionary (look up old words)

Regenstein Reserve