August 20, 2006

MORE course information!

Only this time brief!

PHIL347 Contemporary Moral Philosophy
Do you love moral philosophy? Do you love arguing about it? Do you like EXTREME amounts of reading each week, and writing a short paper once a week? Then this is the course for you!
Unfortunately for me, I did not like any of these things. It's an advanced seminar course for people who are really interested in these issues, and unfortunately moral and political philosophy in first year didn't seem like enough of a background… I wish I'd taken the second year course, but it's a bit late for that now. I got a 75 – which I'm quite happy with because I was rubbish at this course, even though I tried so hard. Let's move on.

PHIL 256 Existentialism
Adele Mercier isn't teaching this course next year, which is a shame, I think. It's the oddest course I know of. Short assignments every couple of weeks, featuring titles like "write your own epitaph"; "think of a way to change the world and put it into practice"; "describe two times when you stuck your neck out for someone, and two times when you didn't"; "how far would you comprimise your ethical principles when working for a corporation"..... it's a lot of fun, and to be fair, not too difficult, but sometimes you feel ridiculous writing these things. The final paper is a story/play/whatever you like involving characters taken from existential literature (Camus, Saramago, Sartre, Romeo Dallaire, etc) and yourself, and writing an existential discussion. Again, fun, but silly. There's a couple of in–class tests too, but nothing to worry about. The classes are straightforward, hilarious, lots of Adele telling stories and watching videos, and the philosophy taught is not really strenuous. I really like existentialist thought, and this was a fun course for it, but let's be serious here – it's not a difficult one.

PHIL376 Philosophy of Feminism
A much more sensible course. The first half of the course is based on set readings, where you look at a different issue each week (stuff like whether Nietzsche was an uber–misogynist or not; whether Rousseau’s sexism reflects his intellectual honesty; whether storytelling is a method of thinking feminism) and you write a couple of short papers. The second half is all seminar presentations; you get into a group at the beginning of term and start working on them right away (in theory) and then have a whole class to do the presentation. You have to go to all these classes because you have to write feedback on each presentation and email it to the Prof (Jackie Davies, she's really awesome). You also have a longer final essay (only 2000 words though, they don't really go in for long papers here so much) for the end of term. I liked this course; it is definitely one where you get out of it what you put in. The weeks where I didn't do the reading properly were much less fun; the times when I did, it was super interesting! There isn't really a course like it at Warwick, and I really enjoyed it, so I'd give it two thumbs up and recommend it to you, if feminism is your sort of thing.

And then metaphysics. You have to take a semester of metaphysics. What I did was unusual because they didn't have a 3rd year metaphysics course, so I took only the second half of a full year 2nd year course (PHIL250 Epistemology and Metaphysics) and did it as directed studies (or, as Lydia would say, special needs). It was based on Ayer's Language, Truth and Logic and Russell's logical atomism. But, I was only a proper student for the first half of term; for the second, I still went to classes but also had tutorials with the professor (Henry Laycock, who is awesome, a very clever and funny dude) on a few chapters from Russell's Principles of Mathematics. It was all at once difficult and very interesting. I'm glad I did it that way – I could have just been a regular student the whole semester, and in some ways that would have been better because it wasn't very well organised, but I really enjoyed studying Russell. If you are having a similar dilemma, then start thinking about what you want to study right away – the way it worked out for me was Professor laycock said "what do you want to learn about?" and I said "umm… mathematical philosophy" and he said "okay! get this book!". And I think it was a good think to pick, but there's loads of interesting metaphysics (sometimes I thought I should have picked the pre–Socratics because they are awesome too). But it is easier in every sense just to take the second semester entirely; the classes are interesting and it is not too challenging.


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