UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM

Turning Passion to Purpose

** Only offered as minors.

The minor in philosophy introduces students to fundamental questions about the world and our place in it, including questions about truth, knowledge, reality, reason, mind, beauty, moralityThe minor in philosophy introduces students to fundamental questions about the world and our place in it, including questions about truth, knowledge, reality, reason, mind, beauty, morality, religion, and culture. Students in the minor program will learn how to systematically investigate these questions with logic, argumentation, and understanding of the ideas of philosophers who have gone before. They will gain insight into what kind of world we live in, what it means to be a person, whether we have free will, what makes for a good life, etc. They will be able to communicate this insight with clarity and persuasiveness both verbally and in writing.

In keeping with FLAME University's distinctive focus on humanistic inquiry, the Philosophy Minor will help inculcate the habit of life-long learning and inquisitiveness through philosophical investigations in every aspect of the students' lives. The minor courses in philosophy introduce Western and Indian philosophical thoughts and the classic and contemporary thoughts in Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ethics. Courses like Introduction to Western Philosophy, Introduction to Indian Philosophy, Darsanas, and Modern Philosophy provide a window into philosophical works in Western and Indian traditions. Courses in Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Ethics and the Good Life offer a survey of contemporary ideas in these areas. The course in logic provides an excellent fundamental understanding of argumentation and how to analyze and construct arguments. Courses like Mind and Language, Political philosophy, Hinduism and Buddhism, Phenomenology, and Existence introduce specific philosophical issues and their analysis in these domains. Finally, a course in Metaphilosophy introduces students to an analysis of philosophy by considering its methods, aims, and tools. At the end of the minor, students will have a well-rounded foundation in philosophy, enabling them to pursue further education in philosophy and conduct independent research in various disciplines.

Philosophy teaches one the art of articulation. A philosophy student becomes better at rational thinking and can express an idea with clarity and coherence. Philosophy enables a person to understand and analyze a concept precisely without getting caught in the ambiguities and imperfections of language. Skills learned in philosophy courses are highly versatile and can be applied in every walk of life - personal and professional. The philosophy graduates have done exceedingly well in various fields, including business, law, entrepreneurship, politics, journalism, counselling/therapy, activism, and acting., religion, and culture. Students in the minor program will learn how to systematically investigate these questions with logic, argumentation, and understanding of the ideas of philosophers who have gone before. They will gain insight into what kind of world we live in, what it means to be a person, whether we have free will, what makes for a good life, etc. They will be able to communicate this insight with clarity and persuasiveness both verbally and in writing. 

PROGRAM AIMS

  • Introduce the history of western philosophy and Indian philosophy
  • Provide an understanding of contemporary and classical philosophical issues such as knowledge, truth, existence, free will, mind and body, and personal identity
  • Provide logical tools to evaluate arguments from a variety of perspectives
  • Inculcate the habit of critically reflecting on and developing their worldview by exposing them to opposing philosophies
  • Introduce the four significant branches of philosophy – logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics
  • Engage with other disciplines philosophically, with the issues studied in philosophy, and with other disciplines such as physics, neuroscience, history, economics, and political science
  • Sensitize students to identify ethical problems and recognize relevant issues to work through them
  • Enable students to pursue independent research in philosophical areas such as metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, etc.

PROGRAM OUTCOMES

After successful completion of the Minor, the student will be able to

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the issues within different frameworks of western philosophy and Indian philosophy
  2. Analyze a wide range of philosophical texts
  3. Apply conceptual frameworks and critical skills for problem-solving at a local, national, and global level
  4. Demonstrate the ability to support a position with arguments and analytical reasoning within the larger philosophical community
  5. Demonstrate ability to summarize philosophical problems and construct their arguments in a written format

COURSES (CORE AND ELECTIVE) **

PHILOSOPHY MINOR COURSES

19 MINOR COURSES

Introduction to Philosophy

Logic

Modern Philosophy

Introduction to Western Philosophy

Introduction to Jainism

Philosophy of Science

Introduction to Indian Philosophy

Metaphysics

Political Philosophy

Ethics and the Good Life

Darsanas: Introduction to Indian Philosophical and Religious Traditions

Mind and Language *

Philosophy of Religion

Aesthetics

Metaphilosophy *

Hinduism and Buddhism *

Phenomenology and Existentialism *

 

Asian Philosophy and Religion *

Epistemology

 

** more details are available in the course catalogue
*
4th year undergraduate courses

Introduction to Philosophy

This course introduces some of the fundamental problems of metaphysics and epistemology. This course will prepare students for more advanced courses in philosophy and cater to those who want a general overview of the subject but do not wish to pursue it further. Students will acquaint themselves with the issues and the commonly occurring philosophical terms and key concepts in this course. The course will begin with a general introduction to philosophy and how it is done with a brief historical background. Then philosophical issues such as knowledge, truth, existence, free will, mind and body, and personal identity will be discussed. Each of these issues will be covered in two lectures – the first lecture will introduce the issue, and the second will introduce the various responses to the issue. The course aims to encourage students to think philosophically, appreciate philosophical problems, and engage with them.

Introduction to Western Philosophy

This course is a survey of philosophical conversation in the West. We will trace this conversation as it grows through time by reading and discussing philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Plotinus, Augustine, Boethius, Ockham, Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, Kant, Mill, Moore, and more. We will learn to identify the questions this conversation is about –the nature of reality, knowledge, value, the human person, the good life, and some of the central answers to these questions. The focus will be to understand a philosopher's arguments on their terms and debate them in our current context. The student will learn how to read and understand a philosopher to evaluate and apply their ideas for themselves. Assignments will require students to demonstrate, through writing, their ability to do this.

Introduction to Indian Philosophy

The purpose of this course is to engender an informed appreciation for the principal religious and philosophical traditions that originated in India and recognize the great variety of philosophies and religious practices among Indian traditions. The course covers a basic set of concepts and ideas relating to Indian Philosophy and develops a vocabulary of fundamental philosophical terminology. The course aims to appreciate philosophies in context through readings and films and situate the vocabulary and ideologies in living and historical situations. The course also seeks to understand the relationship of Indian philosophy, rituals, theology, and experience to the larger world of world religion and philosophy and their significance to philosophical studies in general.

Ethics and Good life

Ethics is the study of good, bad, right, and wrong. This course begins with ethical theory, under which falls normative ethics and metaethics. Normative ethics develops and evaluates theories that purport to tell us what criteria make an action right or wrong. We will consider consequentialism, deontology, care ethics, and virtue theory. Metaethics explores the meaning and nature of moral thought and the underlying nature of moral properties – for example, whether something is being right is, in the end, instantiating a particular physical property. After both normative and metaethical theories are on the table, we will investigate the nature of a good life – that is, a good life for the one who lives it. Is it a life filled with pleasure? Is it a life in which your desires are satisfied? Is it obtaining a list of objectively good things, such as knowledge, achievement, friendship, etc.? We will explore these and other accounts of the good life, concluding with an exploration of how being a morally good person could relate to having a good life and a discussion of what it takes to obtain the virtues constitutive of being a morally good person. Readings will be drawn from classic and contemporary sources.

Logic

This course aims to introduce students to the fundamentals of reasoning and symbolic logic. Logic, as a branch of philosophical study, is engaged in argument representation and analysis. Thus, this course will act as an introduction to how philosophers construct and analyze arguments. Students will learn the basics of arguments, the validity of an argument, what makes an argument invalid, and how to avoid fallacies. Furthermore, students will learn formal logical forms of propositional logic and predicate logic - which provides symbolic methods for representing and assessing the logical form of arguments. This will enable the students to understand formal methods of logical analysis and further their understanding of valid and invalid arguments, thus providing them with skills not only to do philosophy in a formal way but to analyze arguments that they may come across in their daily lives.

Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the study of reality in its most general form. It is the foundation of most philosophical problems. This course will begin with an introduction to ontology, a subdiscipline of metaphysics that studies what there is. Then the course will examine some of the classical problems in metaphysics such as problems of universals, time and persistence, abstract and concrete objects, modality, causation, and free will. A brief historical background will be provided for each problem, but the focus will remain on the contemporary debates. Once a topic has been introduced, at least two contemporary competing views will be discussed, and the students will be required to read one original paper on each of the views. The course aims not to find an answer but to understand the depth of the questions and make students wonder about them.

Darśana: An Introduction to Indian Philosophical and Religious Traditions

The course is divided into three parts. The first part begins with the Indus Valley Civilization and proceeds to the Vedic period. We study selected hymns of the Rig Veda and attempt to reconstruct the Vedic worldview. We also examine some of the influential ideas of the Upanishads. The second part of the course is about Classical Indian philosophy (darśana), examining the six orthodox (āstika) and the three heterodox (nāstika) schools – Buddhism, Jainism, and Cārvāka. The final part of the course explores Puranic Hinduism, the influence of Islam upon Indian thought, the development of medieval Hinduism, Sikhism, and Gandhian thought.

Epistemology

Whether we know something or instead merely believe it matters. Knowledge gives us the power to organize our lives and environment to beneficial ends. It also gives us authority in the relevant domain, e.g., a doctor has authority in medicine. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge. This course will orient students to the questions, theories, and arguments of this discipline. Knowledge is commonly taken to be a kind of genuine belief that is also justified or rational in an appropriate way. We shall examine what these ingredients of knowledge are, how they relate to each other, how far they extend, and the ways they matter. We shall, in this way, discuss the nature, ingredients, structure, extent, and value of knowledge. Readings will be drawn from both classic and contemporary sources.

Modern Philosophy 

Constituting a significant break from Medieval Scholasticism, Descartes started a conversation about knowledge and skepticism, the nature and existence of God, and the nature of the human person, which Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Reid, and Kant pushed forward in radically different ways. In an era of bold confidence about the powers of human reason, each of these philosophers built a system that explained what the human person is, how we gain knowledge, and how we should think about God. Understanding these systems will give the student of philosophy insight into how philosophical problems and positions are posed and situated today. We will aim to understand these systems by reading the works of these philosophers closely and discussing them. Assignments will require students to demonstrate, through writing, their understanding of these systems. 

Political Philosophy

The course introduces students to contemporary ideas in political philosophy. Students will learn Western and Indian political positions such as liberalism, libertarianism, communism, anarchism, democracies, justice, egalitarianism, and feminism. And apply these ideas to specific issues like distributive justice, the state's role, non-cooperation, citizenship, inequality, migration, refugees, and nationalism. Students will consider questions like – what does distributive justice entail? What makes democracies better than other states? Can states ever be legitimate? What gives states their legitimacy? Do we have an obligation to obey the state? What is the basis of citizenship? How do we construe equality? This will be done through an introduction to political thoughts and writings of philosophers like Rousseau, Rawls, Nozick, Cohen, Anderson, Dworkin, Orkin, Butler, Wolff, Marx, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Phule, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Philosophy of Religion

This course aims to shed light on questions related to religion by using the tools of philosophical analysis and argument. The first part of the course concerns arguments for and against the existence of God. Is God's existence the best explanation for a universe well-suited for life, or consciousness, or our moral obligations, etc.? Conversely, is God's non-existence the best explanation for the atrocious evil and suffering some people experience? The second part concerns the epistemology of religious experience and religious testimony. Is it possible to experience God perceptually, as one might experience a tree perceptually? When would it make sense to believe other claims about God? The course will critically engage with the experiences and testimony of diverse religious texts. The third and concluding part of the course concerns the accounts different religions have of human nature and destiny or future. Readings are drawn from primary religious texts and both classic and contemporary philosophy.

Hinduism and Buddhism: Dharma and Dhamma

Dating back more than 5000 years, Hinduism is the majority tradition of India with a noticeable presence across the world. Buddhism is another Indian tradition founded by the Buddha in the fifth century BCE. The Buddhist doctrines evolved in response to Brahmanism, a tradition based on the Hindu scriptures. Because of this, Buddhism (with Jainism) is regarded as an unorthodox philosophy. This course introduces this diverse tradition, ranging from the earliest texts of the Vedas to current perspectives on dharma, karma, temple architecture, sacred food, ritual, caste, philosophy, history, and modernization. The course introduces Hindu and Buddhist practices through readings and films. It will situate the vocabulary and ideologies of Hinduism and Buddhism in both contemporary and historical situations. The course aims to develop an understanding of the relationship of Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, rituals, theologies, and experiences to the larger world of religions and their significance to philosophical studies in general.

Phenomenology and existentialism

"Existence precedes essence" by Sartre is taken as the tagline of existentialism, developed from phenomenology. This course introduces students to fundamental issues and concepts in phenomenology and existentialism. The course starts with Edmund Husserl's phenomenology as rigorous science and then introduces its essential concepts. Heidegger's phenomenological ontology will be studied, and we will also cover the philosophies of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. Existentialism of Maurice Merleau Ponty, Simon de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Jean Paul Sartre.

Mind and Language

This course introduces some of the fundamental issues in philosophy of mind and language and the intersection. The course will begin with the classical mind-body problem and its various responses, such as substance and property dualism, materialism, emergentism, epiphenomenalism, and panpsychism. The course will discuss the issues such as qualitative experience, mental states, mental causation, propositional attitude, and meaning and reference. The course will also introduce a few problems from the philosophy of perception, such as naive realism, disjunctivism, hallucination, and illusion. The course will be based on seminal texts on each of these issues, and students will be encouraged to engage with the texts critically. Upon completing the course, students will critically engage with the texts to understand some philosophical issues. Still, they will also utilize their learnings in other related disciplines such as psychology and linguistics.

Metaphilosophy

Most of the courses in philosophy focus on a variety of philosophical problems, but they do not often explain what makes a problem philosophical. This course explores the idea of philosophy, its aims, different ways it is or can be done, how philosophy progresses, and how it differs from progress in other disciplines. This course will also discuss some of the tools used in philosophy, such as intuition, thought experiments, and experimental philosophy. The readings are drawn from Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nicholas Rescher, Timothy Williamson, and David Chalmers. By the end of the course, students should be able to have their understanding of philosophy as an academic discipline, distinguish philosophical problems from non-philosophical ones, and apply appropriate philosophical methods while dealing with a problem. This course will guide the student towards doing philosophy and work independently on any of the philosophical issues. 

Introduction to Jainism

Jainism is one of the ancient philosophical and religious traditions of India. Historically, it is traced back to Mahavira, a teacher of the 

sixth century BCE, a contemporary of the Buddha. Like those of the Buddha, Mahavira’s doctrines were formulated as a response to 

Brahmanism (Hinduism), tradition based on the Vedic texts and because of this, both Jainism and Buddhism are regarded as the unorthodox philosophies, darsanas. The most renowned nonviolent figure of our times Mahatma Gandhi was inspired by nonviolence and other Jain practices. Gandhi in turn inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, and several other nonviolent movements globally. Today, Jains have a global presence with their hundreds of temples and centres worldwide.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics is philosophical theorization about beauty and art. This course explores the theories of art as imitation, expression, communication, and significant form. The relationship between the concepts of beauty, sublime with art would be critically engaged with the texts explored through Plato, Aristotle, Croce, Tolstoy, Kant. The course will also introduce the Indian aesthetic theories of Bhava and Rasa concerning various art forms.

Philosophy of Science

Science has a significant impact on the way we gain an understanding of the world around us. Philosophy of science concerns the nature of science and what makes it distinctive among forms of human inquiry. This course encourages students to think critically about the aims, methods, and practices of sciences. It introduces the core issues in the philosophy of science – the problem of induction, the nature of scientific methods, the objectivity of scientific methods, theory confirmation, theory change, scientific realism, sociological dimensions of scientific practice, and the distinction between sciences and pseudoscience. Students will consider questions like – what are the aims of sciences? How do scientists arrive at objective theories? How are theories confirmed? Can we ever say that the data entirely determine a theory? How do scientific revolutions change our understanding of the scientific method and the world? Is there an objective scientific method? What are the factors that influence scientists in their investigations? This will be done through a well-curated reading of philosophers like Hume, Popper, Quine, Kuhn, Bayes, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Bloor, and Latour.

Asian Philosophy and Religion

Asia is the largest continent in the world, with some of the oldest religious and philosophical traditions. India and China provide some of the longest sustainable examples of pluralistic cultures, potentially valuable models for the world. For the last two centuries, the globalized world has embraced many Asian cultural elements - Buddha, Beatles, Gandhi, Yoga, Ayurveda, Vegetarianism, and new words such as Guru, Mantra, Pundit, Karma, Tao, Zen, and Nirvana, are some examples of such connections. This course provides an insight into some of the indigenous Asian philosophies and religions (APR) such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Daoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Zen. Based on the survey of Asian concepts, issues, theories, methods, works of literature, and practices, the course will also introduce new ways of defining long-accepted categories such as "god," "religion," "philosophy," "secular," "culture," "myth" and "history."