Below are descriptions of some of the courses I have recently offered:
The Philosophy of Karl Marx
The 19th-Century German philosopher, economist, and political theorist, Karl Marx, is without doubt one of the most important thinkers in modernity and yet also one of the most poorly understood. In this course, we will examine philosophical themes that Marx developed in his work over the entire course of his career, including themes such as alienation and its abolition, dialectics, “species-being”, and historical materialism, as well as related political and economic themes such as exploitation and class struggle.
In this context we will also investigate the works of Marx’s close intellectual collaborator, Friedrich Engels. The aim of the course is for students to be enabled to understand and critically engage with Marx’s work, to gain practice participating in a deep analysis of a single philosophical author, and to acquire a historical and philosophical perspective that will provide greater context for evaluations of other past and contemporary positions in moral and political philosophy.
Philosophy of Race
Race plays a prominent role in our social existence, even in what some have called a “post-racial society,” and has for centuries. In this course, we will take a philosophical approach to understanding a set of related questions about race.
What is the origin and basis of the race concept? Is race socially constructed, or does it have a biological basis? Does racial discourse serve to further entrench racial divisions? How does racial oppression relate to other forms of oppression such as class- and gender-based oppression? What is racial “privilege”? As time permits, we will investigate issues such as affirmative action, racial solidarity, and the ways in which racial oppression differentially affects men and women.
Philosophy of Human Nature
For philosophers such as Aristotle, Hobbes, Marx, and many others, underlying any claims about morality, politics, and other normative matters in social life is a theory of human nature.
In order to know how human beings ought to live and what form of society is best suited to them, many philosophers have thought, one must understand what human beings are and how they have developed. The determination of a universal human nature is supposed to provide some grounding for universal claims about what is good for beings like ourselves, as well as shedding light on our similarities with and distinctness from non-human animals.
In this class, we will survey theories of human nature put forward by a range of thinkers, as well as encountering authors who argue that there can be no such thing as a universal human nature, at all.