Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 310: Issues in the Philosophy of Human Nature

PHIL 310: Issues in the Philosophy of Human Nature

The Generic Catalog Description

Intensive consideration of such issues as freedom, determinism, language, love, person, the interpersonal, time, society, truth, aesthetics, life, consciousness, mind-body, meaning, immortality, transcendence, etc.

PHIL 310: Issues in the Philosophy of Human Nature: Freud

James Blachowicz

This course will examine philosophical issues relating to Freud's (and later Freudians') views of human nature, including the nature of fundamental human "instincts," civilization and its forms (in religion, science and political action, for example) and the significance of a consciousness of death for human cultural development.

PHIL 310: Issues in the Philosophy of Human Nature

Philosophy concerns itself with what is often taken for granted, overlooked or denied. Death is one such reality in modern Western culture. Although we know for sure we will die, the harshness of death's inevitability is softened by the uncertainty of the where, the how and the when. And it is precisely that series of contingencies which makes it possible for death to remain so intransigently alien, distant and ignored. For the most part, we only approach the matter of death in the third person: not we, not you, but "others" are those who die. Yet, as long as death is conceived as something that happens only to others or as an event occurring only at the end of one's life, it will remain impermeable and irrelevant. Philosophers from Plato to Heidegger have recognized how this attitude of indifference towards death contributes to an inauthentic existence.

Peering into death may not be easy, but it need not constitute a morbid fascination; in fact, this course is really about life, but life as illuminated through the prism of death. Throughout the semester, we will be in conversation with philosophical and religious texts that explore death and its ultimate meaning for life. The purpose of this exercise is not simply to acquire a collection of trenchant remarks on death from an assortment of well-known sages but rather to foster, both within and among ourselves, a sustained reflection on key questions such as: What exactly is death? - Is a metaphysics of death or ratio mortis even possible? - How have ancient philosophers (such as Plato and Aristotle) as well as contemporary philosophers (such as Kierkegaard and Heidegger) reflected on the reality of death? - How does the challenge of death (and its threat of discontinuity) get transposed into a higher continuity by the major religious traditions? - Is religion, as Hume suggested, merely a compensatory strategy for dealing with our fear of death? - Or are religious traditions really about authentic conversion to a new way of seeing, thinking and acting? - What is the relationship between mortality and morality? - What is it that ultimately makes life's activities meaningful?

Typical Readings:
Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych
Plato, Phaedo
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things
Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
Cooper, Body, Soul and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-Dualism Debate
Hume, Dialogues and Natural History of Religion
Heidegger, Being and Time
Bowker, The Meanings of Death

PHIL 310: Issues in the Philosophy of Human Nature: Aesthetics

Dan Vaillancourt

This course explores one or more of the following issues in aesthetics: beauty and love, beauty and healing, trans-cultural concepts of beauty, applied aesthetics, and so on. 

I believe in class-by-class graded assignments that give evidence of the work you do between classes (you should work daily on this course). I use everything: quizzes, essays, discussions, presentations, groups, debates, dramatizations, and so on. My medium of choice, however, is the written one. I use an electronic classroom and rely heavily on the web,