Sep 30, 2020  
2019-2020 College of Liberal Arts (Admitted Fall 2019/Spring 2020) 
2019-2020 College of Liberal Arts (Admitted Fall 2019/Spring 2020) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PHIL 400 - The Meaning of Life

4 credits

Of the many perennial questions in philosophy the question of the meaning of life is often regarded as the most urgent not only for philosophers but for all human beings. Our beliefs about what benefit and fulfill us often stem from the assumptions we have implicitly made about what is truly meaningful in life. In philosophy the goal is not merely to enumerate people’s opinions and beliefs, but, through a careful and rigorous analysis, to determine whether any of the assumptions can be shown to count as instances of knowledge as opposed to mere belief. To this end, we shall bring to bear in our analysis such topics as science, morality, religion, language, personal experience, and art. The course focuses on the views that fall under three broad categories: the religious, the non-religious, and the skeptical. Readings include writings by Aristotle, Epicurus, Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, Bertrand Russell, Albert Camus, A. J. Ayer, Richard Taylor, and Thomas Nagel. Epicurus on Happiness, The Seventh Seal, Waking Life, My Dinner with Andre and other films relevant to the topic will supplement class discussion.

The course is an advanced seminar for senior philosophy majors and others with sufficient background. It represents the culmination of a student’s work in the major and is intended to place students in a position to apply knowledge and skills from previous courses to an extended research project of their own. Instructor’s signature required for registration. Instructor Permission Required. Offered in the Spring semester. CLA-Capstone, CLA-Writing Intensive.

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