Back To Teaching – I

On Wednesday, I return to teaching after a one-year hiatus (on sabbatical). Here are the–admittedly skimpy and sketchy–course descriptions of the three classes I will be teaching this coming fall semester. I am looking forward to them. I’m sure my enthusiasm will soon be tempered by encountering my university’s mind-numbing bureaucracy (and the dubious pleasures of grading) but for now, it’s good to be able to anticipate my forthcoming encounters with students and classroom discussions.

Philosophy of Religion

The philosophy of religion queries the foundations of religion and religious thought. Its central questions are among the most enduring in philosophy; they may be engaged by both theists and atheists, and involve the major branches of philosophical inquiry such as epistemology, logic, metaphysics, and ethics.

Among the most important of the questions raised in the philosophy of religion are: What is the nature of religious belief?  What is the relationship between faith and reason? Does God exist? If so, what is (its/his/her) nature? Does morality require religious belief? What is evil? What problems does it create for arguments for the existence of God? What is the nature of religious experience? Is there a difference between religious belief and religious feeling? What are religious language’s distinguishing characteristics? What is the relationship between religion and science?

We will examine these in the context of several philosophical and religious traditions, finding sources in philosophical and literary texts.

Social Philosophy

In this class we examine social theory and social thought—beginning with the Enlightenment and continuing on to twentieth-century postmodernism. The issues we tackle include equality, social justice, gender relations, political structures, family life, ethnic relations, and political economy. We will read philosophers, political scientists, psychologists, economists, novelists; all contribute to grappling with the complex questions facing societies and those who interact within them.

Philosophical Issues in Literature: The Post-Apocalyptic Novel

Literature offers us a lens through which to view the human condition; it enables a literary grappling with metaphysical, epistemological, logical, ethical, aesthetic, and political issues of philosophical interest and significance. In this class, we will read several works of post-apocalyptic fiction to facilitate an exploration and discussion of some of these issues.  What is the ethical and political and aesthetic vision these works embody? By imagining a radically altered state of existence, they allow us to speculate about the changes in the world and the humans who live within it; they permit a safe exploration of alternative modes of living, ethical and political systems. Of especial relevance to us is the following question: Why are the concept of the apocalypse and human responses to it of such enduring interest to novelists and philosophers?

The following is the reading list:

As the semester progresses, I hope to blog here about the material I teach, drawing upon reflections triggered by my preparations for the class meetings, as well as the actual discussions in the classroom.

Tomorrow: a report on my first day back in class.

7 comments on “Back To Teaching – I

  1. applekaurr says:

    Last night I felt so envious of all the students going back to school and your blog post makes me wish I could go back to the small intimate philosophy classroom discussing Kant, Aristotle and Sartre.

  2. […] first reading in my Philosophical Issues in Literature class this semester–which focuses on the post-apocalyptic novel–is Nevil Shute‘s On The Beach. I expected, more often than not, moral, ethical, and […]

  3. […] are wondering. the assigned reading was the first eighty pages of A Canticle For Leibowitz for my Philosophical Issues in Literature […]

  4. […] first class meeting of the semester, I had pointed out that the subject material of the class–a concentration on post-apocalyptic literature–was likely to involve many difficult emotional and intellectual encounters and that our […]

  5. […] week, the students in my Philosophical Issues in Literature class and I, as part of our ongoing discussion about Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, watched John […]

  6. […] two new preps. The repeat prep is the ‘Philosophical Issues in Literature’ class, which I taught last semester. I had considered changing the reading list dramatically, but instead, dropped two […]

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