December 8, 2007

Greats -- Final Help -- Descartes(G)

Here is a chunk of my thesis that might help with sorting out Descartes' provisional ethics: Download file

November 10, 2007

Simone Weil Assignment (G)

In Weil's Waiting for God, read the bio in the very back (first). Read the intro and letters for background. We will concentrate on "Forms of the Implicit Love of God."

In connection with that essay, look for answers to these questions:

1. What love of God is distinguished from "implicit love of God," for Weil? Why does she talk about some love of God as implicit?

2. What are the objects of the implicit love of God?

3. For Weil, what is the center of the love of neighbor?

4. How does Weil understand the idea of God's creation?

5. What is the meaning of the book title, Waiting for God? Why does it fit this book?

6. How is love of the order of the world similar to love of neighbor?

7. For Weil, love of religious practices and participation in them, does not imply religious belief. Why not?

8. Weil values and desires friendship, and yet she is very worried about it becoming impure, losing its ultimate, religious value as a way of loving God? How does she see that happening?

October 31, 2007

Walden for Next Week (G)

Please read the chapters "Economy" and "Where I Lived and What I Lived for" in Thoreau's Walden. Read my notes first, and use them as a guide to the chapter. Expect a quiz on Tuesday. Notes: Download file

Here is the next response paper assignment: Download file

October 26, 2007

Kant Assignment for Tuesday (G)

Here is the handout from Thursday's Mill discussion: Download file

Here is Thursday's quiz, with the answers in bold: Download file

Begin your work with Kant by learning something about his life, at this link:

Here are notes on the Kant reading: Download file. Please print them out and follow them closely. They are intended to help you not hate Kant.
Take his stuff slow and easy, and don't get off the path.

There will be a quiz on Tuesday, addressing just those points emphasized in the notes.

October 19, 2007

John Stuart Mill (G)

Mill's book On Liberty is an accessible book that introduces you to the climate of Mill's mind: his talent for argument, his willingness to seek out and answer objections, his amazing thoroughness and care in discussion. It is comparatively easy to grasp his general point: a wide diversity of expressed opinion, a comparable diversity of lifestyle, contribute to the well-being of individuals and to the health of society. It is important however to go beyond this general grasp, to trace out the intricacies of his argument and to come to appreciate the richness and power of his mind. I have prepared some notes on the first two chapters of On Liberty, to help you get access to this work. Please study these notes over the break: Download file

There's a revised course calendar: Download file

For Thursday, please read in the Mill anthology: the first two chapters of Utilitarianism, from 233-260. Please check the blog again on Monday. I hope to have some notes ready then to guide our discussion of this material. Also please read the sections on Mill's life, on utilitarianism and on Mill's social and political philosophy in the Mill article from the Stanford Encyclopedia. Here is the address:

October 12, 2007

Mill (G)

Please read the introductory material on Mill and the first three chapters of On Liberty, through page 77 in the Miller anthology.

October 10, 2007

Great Philosophers

Please read Meditations 4 and 6 for Thursday.

September 28, 2007

Discourse on Method (G)

For Thursday, read Descartes' Discourse on Method, with particular attention to the ethical stuff in part 3.

Here is the next writing assignment: Download file

September 26, 2007

Epicurus for Thursday (G)

For Thursday, please read in The Consolations of Philosophy (on reserve at the library) the section "Consolation for not having enough money," a discussion of Epicurus. You might find the discussion of Seneca interesting as well. Seneca is another Stoic, like Marcus Aurelius, and their views complement each other.

The handout for Tuesday's class is not available in digital form. Please be sure to get a copy, if you missed class.

September 21, 2007

Marcus Aurelius -- The Meditations (G)

Your assignment for Tuesday, September 25, is to read selections from The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Here is an outline describing and listing the passages that require attention: Download file

September 19, 2007

Great Philosophers for Thursday, September 20

There is no new assignment, but please review the Laches carefully, in conjunction with the notes, and get clear in your mind the reason for each stage of the argument. Also, think about where you stand in this discussion: what is your account of courage, and how would you resolve the problems that Socrates raises about this idea?

As time permits, search 'Laches' in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and browse among the different treatments of this dialogue in different articles.

September 14, 2007

Great Philosophers -- Response paper 1

Here are the instructions for the first response paper, due on Thursday, September 20: Download file

Laches -- Reading for Tuesday, September 18 (G)

Read the introduction to the Laches, the first of the two dialogues in the edition we are using. Then print out and look at my notes from this website. Read the preliminary notes, then use the outline as a guide as you are reading through the dialogue.

My notes: Download file

September 7, 2007

Finish Analects for Tuesday (G)

Finish the Analects in Slingerland's selection and his commentary for Tuesday. Also, read the Confucius article in the Stanford Encyclopedia.

Check this space Sunday and Monday for additional notes.

September 4, 2007

Confucius -- Assignment 1 (G)

For Thursday, read Slingerland's introduction to The Essential Analects and the first three books (the first 8 pages!). As you read the selections, read also Slingerland's summary of the traditional commentaries, one at a time, with the appropriate selection. The commentaries begin on page 57. Keep of list of things that strike you, that interest you, that puzzle you, that you agree with, that you disagree with.

Also, write a paragraph about the comparison/contrast between Confucius' reasons for taking ritual to be important and the reasons that came up in class discussion. Are we and Confucius basically on the same page, or are there important difference. Keep this paragraph around 100 words. Send it to me at, and also bring a copy to class.