Course Notes – Paul Churchland, “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes”

by Daniel A. Kaufman https://ruccs.rutgers.edu/images/personal-zenon-pylyshyn/class-info/FP2012_readings/Churchland_EliminativeMaterialsm.pdf In the philosophy of mind, apart from sensations, with their perplexing “qualia,” intentional states, the so-called “propositional attitudes,” have proven materialism’s biggest headache.  Materialism’s greatest hope, functionalism – and particularly its computational variety – ran into trouble with the propositional attitudes by way of the Chinese (or at least, one of their Rooms), and disputes […]

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Course Notes – Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”

by Daniel A. Kaufman https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/What_is_Enlightenment.pdf Another semester at Missouri State and another edition of Course Notes.  Up for consideration this time is Immanuel Kant’s “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’ ” Having taught Introduction to Philosophy from a topical perspective for a substantial period of time, in recent years I have been teaching the course historically, with a […]

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Course Notes – Susan Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave,” from On Photography (1977)

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Winter17/173/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/document-2.pdf Half of my upper-division course in Aesthetics is devoted to criticism, but given the impossibility of doing any justice to the history of the subject in such a short time, I focus on two major critics from the last century: Clement Greenberg and Susan Sontag.  In the case of Greenberg, we read “Avant Garde and […]

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Course Notes: A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/pdfs/ayerLTL.pdf It’s finals week, which means that the semester is at a close (and that I’m grading my ass off), and I thought it a good opportunity to get another Course Notes in, before summer break begins.  I’ll be talking about the final readings for my Introduction to Philosophy course, three chapters from A.J. Ayer’s Language, […]

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Course Notes — Blaise Pascal, “The Wager”

by Daniel A. Kaufman https://www.york.ac.uk/depts/maths/histstat/pascal_wager.pdf The students in my Introduction to Philosophy course just took their second exam, which covers material from Montaigne, Pascal, and Descartes.  From Montaigne we read two essays, “Of Pedantry” and “Of the Education of Children,” and from Descartes, we read the Meditations on First Philosophy.  Both have been a regular part of my introductory syllabus […]

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Course Notes – Bernard Williams, “The Human Prejudice”

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://www.nyu.edu/classes/gmoran/WILLIAMS.pdf The last unit of my introductory level “Ethics and Contemporary Issues” course is devoted to the question of moral concern for non-human animals.  We begin with excerpts from Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics, then move on to Cora Diamond’s “Eating Meat and Eating People” (which I discussed in a This Week’s Special some time ago (1)), […]

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Course Notes – W.D. Ross, The Right and the Good, Ch. 2.

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/readings/ross.pdf School is back in session, so it’s time, once again, for Course Notes.  This semester I am teaching two sections of Ethics and Contemporary Issues, a course that is part of the General Education curriculum, and Aesthetics, an upper-division offering that runs every Fall. I have made a significant change to the first section of […]

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Course Notes – G.E.M Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy”

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://www.pitt.edu/~mthompso/readings/mmp.pdf We are nearing the end of the semester in my Theories of Ethics course and have just completed our discussions of my favorite reading, Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy.” (MMP) Not only do I think it is Anscombe’s greatest philosophical accomplishment – beyond her translating, editing, and publishing of Wittgenstein, of course – but it […]

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Course Notes – H.A. Prichard, “Does Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?”

by Daniel A. Kaufman http://www.hist-analytic.com/PrichardObligation.pdf We have finished with our survey of traditional ethical theories, in my Theories of Ethics course, and the students have been given a whopper of an exam on Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Mill.  I don’t envy them.  (Though neither do I envy myself, as I will be spending a good portion of my Spring Break […]

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