2021-22 Fall/Winter 100-level Courses
Note: PHL100Y1 and PHL101Y1 are exclusive of each other and have the same learning outcomes.
PHL100Y1Y – Introduction to Philosophy
Profs. Peter King and Julia Smith
Tuesday and Thursday 11:00-12:00
This course is a historical introduction to philosophy, which takes up some basic questions about human life as they have been addressed in the Western philosophical tradition, such as: What is a life worth living? What is a just political order? What is the basis for judgments of right and wrong? Is there a God? What can I know, and how can I know it? What is the nature of consciousness? In pursuit of answers to these questions, we will examine the views of influential philosophers of the past, in chronological order: We will look at answers proposed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, and several contemporary philosophers. Primary readings will be supplemented by the course lectures and, after the first week of the first term, by tutorial discussion groups. Our concern in this course is not simply the scholarly one of who said what when, but to learn the practice of philosophy, of how to try to make sense of our existence. The goal is to learn how to raise and address questions in a systematic and reasoned fashion while learning something about the traditions, methods, and concerns of philosophy.
PHL101Y1Y – Introduction to Philosophy
Prof. James John
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00-11:00
This course will introduce you to philosophy. Its main purpose is to acquaint you with the kinds of questions philosophers ask and to impart an understanding of why those questions matter. A secondary purpose is to improve your skills as a critical reader, thinker, and writer. We will consider some of the perennial philosophical problems: problems to do with (among other things) the existence of God, free will, personal identity, knowledge, human well-being, the significance of death, the relation between mind and body, science, morality, justice and political authority, and the meaning of life.
PHL196H1S – Multiculturalism, Philosophy and Film
Prof. Francesco Gagliardi
Mondays and Wednesdays 10:00-12:00
This course will critically examine the role of cinema in the construction and exploration of the figure of the racial, ethnic, cultural, and social “other.” Our topics will include (1) racial, ethnic, and cultural identity and its reciprocal relationship with cinema, (2) the notion of realism in relation to the representation of race and ethnicity in film, (3) the cinematic representation of inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic conflict, (4) the position of cinema in the debate between assimilation and multiculturalism, and (5) the ways in which cinema can help illuminate a cluster of relevant notions in political philosophy including citizenship, communitarianism, cosmopolitanism, and the relation between individual rights and group rights. Films will be screened in class and discussed against the background of focused critical readings.
PHL197H1S – Introduction to Philosophical Anthropology
Prof. Nicole Yokum
Philosophical anthropology is the subject that poses the most fundamental questions about human nature and the human condition. Taking as its point of departure the most up-to-date scientific understanding of human nature, from anthropology broadly conceived, it goes on to inquire, in a disciplined fashion, about the implications of these views for perennial philosophical questions about human rationality, morality, the possibility of progress, the existence of god and the meaning of life. This course will examine one or more topics in this domain, as a more general introduction to the discipline.
PHL198H1F – Philosophy of Time
Prof. Michael Miller
The passage of time is a fundamental aspect of human experience: we are born, we grow older, and eventually we pass away. During our lives our experience of the past, present, and future are distinct. We can influence the world in the present and the future, but it does not seem that we can influence the past. We have hopes about the future, memories of the past, and experiences of the present. In this seminar we will explore insights from contemporary philosophy and physics concerning the nature of the passage of time. Questions to be considered may include the following: What does it mean to say that time passes? Does time really pass at all? How do we experience time? Why can we influence the future but not the past? Is it possible to travel backward in time? Is time even real? What is time?
PHL199H1F – Ethics and Fiction
Prof. Mark Kingwell
The goal of this seminar is to investigate ethical questions via works of fiction, primarily novels. The idea is not to see fiction as a pedantic vehicle for ethical argument, but rather to consider how, and with what effect, fiction functions as an ethical medium. We will not judge characters as ‘likeable’ or ‘relatable’; rather, we will reflect on what fiction can teach us about the pressing challenges of choice and responsibility, and how it can help expand our understanding of consciousness. The special theme of this iteration of the seminar is friendship: what does it mean, what is its value, what are its limitations?