Graduate Seminars Led by CPAMP Faculty 2020-21

(Please see the relevant departmental websites for information on delivery methods for each course.)

Fall 2020

CPAMP Proseminar: Latin Reading Group

The Latin medieval philosophy reading group will meet this fall. [The CPAMP proseminar is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. All students in the proseminar must attend either this reading group or the Greek reading group in the winter; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups.]

CLA5012H-F – The Aristotelian Tradition: From Theophrastus to Alexander (G. Boys-Stones)

This course will focus mainly on Aristotelianism in the second and third centuries CE. New interest in the ‘esoteric’ texts of Aristotle (the ones that we read today) led to Aristotelians making a major contribution to the shape of philosophical debate during this period. But the course will also provide an opportunity to explore the entire tradition stretching back through the Hellenistic age to Theophrastus and other early followers of Aristotle. Thematically, it will focus on ethics, theology, and metaphysics.

MST3346F — Medieval Islamic Philosophy (D. Black)

This course is an introduction to the major figures and themes in classical Islamic philosophy (falsafah) from the 9th to the 12th centuries, with a focus on the works of Al-Farabi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), and Averroes (Ibn Rushd), as well as other less well-known figures from the classical period. We will consider a range of philosophical problems in the areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and epistemology, as well as topics in ethics and political philosophy. Some consideration will also be given to the views of the Muʿtazilite and Ashʿarite schools of theology (kalām), the rival intellectual traditions to philosophy within the medieval Islamic world.

PHL2003F Aristotle: Aristotle and Kant on the Science of Metaphysics (C. Pfeiffer and N. Stang)

What we now call ‘metaphysics’ derives from a set of books collected under that name by early editors of Aristotle; in them, Aristotle defines what he calls ‘first philosophy’ as the science of all beings insofar as they are beings. In the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks the question, how is metaphysics as a science possible? He argues that it is possible only insofar as it concerns the conditions of the possibility of our experience of objects, rather than those objects in themselves. In this seminar, we will examine Aristotle’s and Kant’s conceptions of the science of metaphysics and how it is possible. Central questions will include: What is the science of metaphysics, according to Aristotle and Kant? Are they even talking about the same thing? According to Aristotle and Kant, is it possible for human souls to acquire scientific knowledge in metaphysics, and, if so, how? How do Kant’s arguments about the possibility of metaphysics fare in an Aristotelian context? Did Aristotle already explain the possibility of metaphysics, 2000+ years before Kant formulated his question? Time permitting, we will also discuss the connections of these issues to later developments in analytic philosophy and German idealism. We will focus on primary texts by Aristotle and Kant, with some consideration of secondary literature as appropriate. Reading knowledge of Greek or German is not required, though both will be helpful.

Winter 2019

CPAMP Proseminar: Greek Reading Group

The ancient Greek philosophy reading group will meet this winter. [The CPAMP proseminar is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. All students in the proseminar must attend either this reading group or the Latin reading group in the fall; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups.]

MST33015S — Themes in Medieval Philosophy (P. King)

In this seminar we’ll look at medieval treatments of some of the topics raised for philosophical exploration by Descartes in his Meditations. Possible topics include: skepticism, self-knowledge, the cogito, theory of error, dualism, and so on. Knowledge of Latin not necessary; I hope to have translations of the relevant discussions available.

PHL2002S Seminar in Plato: The Politics of Plato’s Republic (R. Barney)

In recent decades Plato’s political ideas in the Republic have largely been shunned as authoritarian or totalitarian. We will ask how far those charges are true, but we will also try to think afresh, and in a maximally open-minded way, about what those ideas really are, and whether they might have anything to offer for our political predicament today. We will also try to make contact with older traditions of reading the Republic, notably 19th-century democratic readings like those of Mill and Jowett. Topics to be considered include questions about method in political philosophy; the problem of greed or acquisitiveness as a starting point for political theory; the ‘noble lie’ and the significance of ideology; the so-called philosopher-kings and Plato’s argument for the necessity of a managerial political class; utopianism; Plato’s grounding of political theory in human nature, and his account of the tripartite soul; his typology of regimes and the relation of regime change to individual psychology; the importance of culture for politics; and Plato’s argument for the management of culture by the state.

PHL2222S — MA Proseminar: Aristotle and the Study of Argument: Dialectic and Rhetoric (J. Allen)

Aristotle invented formal logic. His groundbreaking contribution is set out in the Prior Analytics. He did not do so in a vacuum or without preparation, however. In the background, preceding his logic, were longstanding concerns with practices of argument like rhetoric and dialectic and the corresponding argumentative arts or disciplines, which equip practitioners to construct and evaluate arguments belonging to the practices. His versions of these disciplines are presented in the Rhetoric and Topics. In this seminar we will attend to the broader context of Aristotle’s logic furnished by these practices of argument as we know them through the treatises he dedicated to them.


Summer 2021

PHL2007F — Seminar in Aristotle Aristotle’s de Motu Animalium (J. Gelber)

This seminar will be a study of Aristotle’s de Motu Animalium. We will read this short treatise in its entirety (and more than once), as well as both recent and classic scholarly articles on the wide range of philosophical and interpretive issues that the book raises. Among such issues are those concerning the so-called practical syllogism, the role of pleasure in action, questions about how the soul moves the body, the role of sumphuton pneuma in mediating psychological and physiological states or changes, the coherence of self-movers in Aristotle’s physical system, as well as general issues to do with teleology, hylomorphism, and the contrast between practical and theoretical thinking.