A Student Guide to Philosophy at Duke!

<p>Hey All,</p>

<p>I'm a rising junior at Duke majoring in Philosophy. I have very much enjoyed my studies so far and think Philosophy is a great field in general--whether you decide to major in it, are unsure, or just need a cool way to fulfill a Civilizations or Ethical Inquiry requirement. In order to share what I've learned about Duke's Philosophy department and to encourage new and current students to just try out a philosophy course, I thought I'd provide a basic guide to some of the philosophical happenings coming up at Duke, including some course recommendations. If anyone has further questions or if any other philosophy students (majors or nonmajors) have additional insights, this is the place to add them!</p>

<p>FALL 2010 PHILOSOPHY COURSES:</p>

<p>Whether you're a major or not, taking a philosophy course can be a great way to broaden your academic experience at Duke. Here are a few recommendations I have for courses this fall:</p>

<p>PHIL 41 - Intro to Philosophy
This is the only intro course that I would personally recommend. Why? Because it is the only one taught by a professor--the rest are graduate students. Besides this, the professor teaching PHIL 41, Alex Rosenberg, is one of the most distinguished professors in Duke's philosophy department, and is the current chair. This is a unique opportunity to have a tenured professor introduce you to such a complex field. This class is to focus on issues particularly in metaphysics and epistemology, which ask questions such as "Is there such thing as free will?" "What kind of a thing is time?" "How did the universe come into existence?" "What is knowledge?" "How could you ever come to 'know' something?" "Can you ever be sure of anything?" Do consider, though, that it might be better to just take a class in a field of philosophy that interests you specifically, rather than taking a wide-ranging intro class where you will probably be engaged while covering some subjects and lack interest during others.</p>

<p>PHIL 102 - Aesthetics: The Philosophy of Art
I recommend this class first of all because it is taught by Professor Ben Ward, who is one of my all-time favorite professors at Duke. Extremely student-centered and extremely brilliant, he's been at Duke over 30 years and he really knows what he's talking about. What's more, though, is that he really CARES about what he's talking about. A lover of music, founder of The Pitchforks (the most well-known and winningest a cappella group on campus), and award-winning concert pianist, he's the perfect instructor for the philosophy of art. If I were only going to take one philosophy course at Duke, it would be one taught by Ben Ward.</p>

<p>PHIL 111 - Appearance and Reality
I recommend this class especially for non-majors (but for majors as well) who want to talk about some of the most whacky and "mind bend-y" (as the professor puts it) philosophical problems out there. This class is taught by a new assistant professor, Sara Bernstein, but she taught the course last year as well so she's got at least a little experience under her belt. She's very enthusiastic and engaging--makes the course fun and interesting to talk about. The course content is metaphysics, studying questions such as "What is time?" "Is time like space?" "Is time travel possible?" "What is causation?" "Are you identical to yourself across time?" "Do you have free will?" I assume that this is similar to some of the issues you would see in Phil 41, but would be a more in-depth study of these specfic questions, rather than also venturing into other fields.</p>

<p>PHIL 123 - Aristotle
If you're interested in Classical Philosophy, then Michael Ferejohn is the professor at Duke you want to go to. I recommend this class mainly because I've heard good things about him, but don't know him personally and haven't taken this class before. The course provides a "Survey of principal topics in Aristotelian philosophy. Areas of study include metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy."</p>

<p>PHIL 163 - Chinese Philosophy
There seems to be only 1 spot left, but it might have a few drops and they might be able to add some to the cap. I recommend this class because I had Problems in Ethical Theory with David Wong--who teaches this class. I liked my Ethical Theory class, but you could really see the professor come alive when we talked about the Chinese philosopher who was on the syllabus. He is one of the world's leading scholars on Chinese philosophy and is really passionate about the subject matter.</p>

<p>ETHICS 100D - The Challenges of Living an Ethical Life
If you want to take a philosophy class that covers material extremely relevant to your everyday life--this would be the class to take. It is also the gateway course to the Ethics Certificate Program, so if you're interested in joining that, then you will have to take this first. I recommend this class because it has been one of my favorites at Duke so far. While I took it under Peter Euben, I believe the new instructor, Ruth Grant, will be great as well. It will get you thinking about questions fundamental to how you lead your life every day, and will challenge your preconceived notions of ethics. The course poses questions such as "What is a good, worthy or just life and how is it to be lived?" "To what ends?"</p>

<p>OTHER PHILOSOPHY CONNECTIONS:</p>

<p>Duke Philosophical Society
Last year, a group of students re-formed the Duke Philosophical Society, which is basically Duke's version of a philosophy club. Club activities include discussions of philosophical topics--theoretical and practical--and the publication of a philosophy journal. Let me know if you want more information about the society and I can forward you contact info.</p>

<p>Kenan Institute for Ethics
If you're interested in ethics--a branch of philosophy--then getting involved with the Kenan Insitute for Ethics would be a good idea. They have a host of lecture events, socials, and discussions; sponsor courses as well as the Ethics, Leadership, and Global Citizenship FOCUS; co-spondor Project Change preorientation program; sponsor DukeEngage in Dublin; and put on a host of other activities. See dukeethics.org for more information.</p>

<p>Encompass Ethics Magazine
This is one of the leading student-produceed publications on campus and focuses on interdisciplinary ethics in theory and in practice. It is sponsored by the Kenan Insitute for Ethics. Let me know if you're interested in becoming an editor, designer, or contributor to the magazine and I'll forward you contact info.</p>

<p>Any questions/additions/modifications are welcome!!!</p>

<p>To view the latest issue of Encompass Ethics Magazine online, see link:</p>

<p>Encompass</a> Magazine -- Spring 2010 - page 1</p>

<p>Cool guide dude: I don't go to Duke or anything, but I'm considering a philosophy major myself.</p>

<p>
[quote]
PHIL 123 - Aristotle
If you're interested in Classical Philosophy, then Michael Ferejohn is the professor at Duke you want to go to. I recommend this class mainly because I've heard good things about him, but don't know him personally and haven't taken this class before.

[/quote]

I can vouch for Ferejohn as a quality instructor, though I was in classics rather than philosophy. </p>

<p>I would consider taking the survey course in ancient philosophy first, however, or at least Ferejohn's Plato course. Aristotle is extremely dense and tedious and may not be the best option for one's first philosophy course.</p>

<p>
[quote]
ETHICS 100D - The Challenges of Living an Ethical Life ... While I took it under Peter Euben, I believe the new instructor, Ruth Grant, will be great as well.

[/quote]

I had Grant for another course and liked her a lot. She's very old school and fairly formal, but she's extremely knowledgeable and helpful. </p>

<p>I have little to add to the above list except that the philosophy of biology class is excellent, regardless of whom teaches it. It counts for both the biology and philosophy majors.</p>

<p>If Alex Rosenberg is "one of the most distinguished professors in Duke's philosophy department" then the department can't be up to much. Read some of the embarrassing drivel he wrote about the lacrosse rape hoax. A standard bag of sour cream & onions potato chips has a greater capacity for logical reasoning and abstract thought than Rosenberg.</p>

<p>I'm not sure what you're referencing but, regardless, he is one of the world's foremost scholars in the Philosophy of Biology, and studies other areas as well. Please don't try to undermine an entire department by recourse to silly ad hominem attacks. I wonder if you would be willing to say that to his face after one of his lectures, which you have surely never experienced.</p>

<p>^I completely agree with p<em>hp</em>fan</p>

<p>Flashback to November 2006.</p>

<hr>

<p>One member of the Group of 88, Alex Rosenberg, the R. Taylor Cole Prof. of Philosophy, has recently been creatively reinterpreting his support of the "listening" statement. Last month Prof. Rosenberg gave The New York Sun this reason for signing the statement:</p>

<p>...Mr. Rosenberg signed the letter supporting the "We're Listening" advertisement. Mr. Rosenberg said he did so because he was concerned with the prevalence of alcohol on campus and bothered by "affluent kids violating the law to get exploited women to take their clothes off when they could get as much hookup as they wanted from rich and attractive Duke coeds."
Prof. Rosenberg now claims in a recent comment at the Duke Chronicle that he was simply "complaining about the culture of drunken loutishness on campus." Both of Prof. Rosenberg's recently stated reasons for signing the "listening" statement are disingenuous. Drinking or alcohol is not mentioned at all in the listening statement.</p>

<p>Given its timing and the reference to "what happened to this young woman" the advertisement was clearly about going after the lacrosse team for perpetrating a crime, regardless of what the truth was.</p>

<p>Why can't Prof. Rosenberg or any of the other members of the Group of 88 simply apologize for their "rush to judgement?"</p>

<p>One Duke graduate put it this way:</p>

<p>The behaviour of the whole group of "88" is in fact much more repulsive now then it was back then. As rushed as their judgment may have been, back in the spring the "famous" professors may have believed that a rape did indeed occur. Wrong as it is to sentence somebody before knowing all the facts, they had at least <em>some</em> kind of arguably positive motivation nourishing their irrational animus.</p>

<p>However, the way they behave now, when the truth is known, must be known even to them, cannot be excused in any imaginable way. They do not care about the students they have vilified. They are too small to say "I'm sorry". They do not care about the callous suffering they (not the wrongly accused Duke students) have inflicted on fellow human beings (not to mention students they - the Magisterial Instructors - were supposed to educate, nurture and protect).</p>

<p>They do not care for having administered an extraodinarily powerful credibility hit to the very causes they purport to hold dear - women's rights and racial justice.</p>

<p>All they care now is the safety of their own skin and shoddy tenures, their own shattered reputation, their own muddied public persona. Compared to this kind of behaviour, somebody hitting and running, abandoning his/her accident victims to die in their own blood, is by no means different, except for the higher degree of premeditation and more cynical avoidance of responsibility manifested in the Group of 88 way of "passing the buck".</p>

<p>For those who want to see for themselves, try:</p>

<p>Bloggingheads.tv</a> - Science Saturday: Economics as Science</p>

<p>Rosenberg is the pompous windbag on the left.</p>

<p>
[quote]

PHIL 123 - Aristotle
If you're interested in Classical Philosophy, then Michael Ferejohn is the professor at Duke you want to go to. I recommend this class mainly because I've heard good things about him, but don't know him personally and haven't taken this class before. The course provides a "Survey of principal topics in Aristotelian philosophy. Areas of study include metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, ethics, and political philosophy."

[/quote]
</p>

<p>I will also vouch for Dr. Ferejohn. He knows the subject matter cold, and is very willing to spend time to get to know his students outside of class. His survey of Ancient Greek Philosophy course was the best course of my freshman year, and I am currently considering adding 123 to my schedule. </p>

<p>@p<em>hp</em>fan Can you pm me the contact information for the Duke Philosophical Society? Thanks</p>

<p>@DavidWatts His actions during the tumultuous lacrosse scandal do not in any way subtract from his academic accomplishments.</p>

<p>Yep, no problem! Thanks for the additions on Ferejohn...now I feel like I need to take one of his classes even more.</p>