Teaching

Current Teaching

2023–2024

During FALL 2023, I am teaching two courses. The first is an undergraduate lecture course, PHIL 323: The Scientific Revolution. Here is the course description:

This course focuses on the “Scientific Revolution”, a crucial period in intellectual history. This period is typically bounded by the posthumous publication of Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestrium) in 1543, on one end, and the publication of the final edition of Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica) in 1726, on the other. The first part of the course is a brief introduction to the scientific revolution in astronomy, including a consideration of ancient geocentric astronomy, the distinction between astronomy and astrology, the introduction of Copernicus’s heliocentric astronomy, and the subsequent development of Copernicanism. The second part of the course involves a version of the role-playing game, “The Trial of Galileo: Aristotelianism, the ‘New Cosmology’, and the Catholic Church, 1616-1633”, which is part of the “Reacting to the Past” series. Students will play the role of historical individuals linked to the so-called “Galileo Affair”, thereby coming to appreciate “from the inside” the various philosophical, theological, and political factors involved in this iconic historical event. The third and final part of the course concerns the development, starting from Galileo, of a set of alternatives to Aristotle’s physics that came to be known as the “mechanical philosophy”. The focus here will be on Descartes, Leibniz, and Newton (along with Newton’s defender, Clarke). We end with a consideration of the original synthesis of the views of Leibniz and Newton in the Institutions de Physique (Foundations of Physics) of Émilie du Châtelet, published in 1740. Our goal throughout is to understand the complex transition during this important period from a cosmology and physics based on the views of the ancients to a more “modern” outlook in these disciplines.

The second course I am teaching this term is a graduate seminar, PHIL 610, on Spinoza’s Ethics. Here is the seminar description:

In this seminar, our primary task will be to provide a careful reading of Spinoza’s masterwork, the Ethics, which includes his mature views on metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, and the ethical life. Along the way we will explore topics such as substance monism and pantheism, the nature of finite and infinite modes, necessitarianism, mind-body parallelism and union, the nature of truth and error, the psychology of self-preservation, the “bondage” of the emotions, the nature of the “free man”, and the “part of the human mind that is eternal”. We will consider these topics in the context of corresponding views of early modern thinkers such as Descartes and Hobbes, and we will be concerned throughout to engage relevant secondary literature on Spinoza’s Ethics.

No teaching during WINTER 2024.

 

Courses Taught

University of Michigan (From 2010)

Problems of Philosophy (232)
Introduction to Philosophy of Religion (including themes from Eastern religious traditions) (262)
Second Year Seminar in Philosophy: Skepticism, A History (286)
Honors Introduction to Philosophy (297)
Methods of Science (322)
The Scientific Revolution (with Trial of Galileo role-playing game) (323)
Science and Objectivity (on facts and values in science) (381)
History of Philosophy: Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (389)
Topics in Philosophy: Early Modern Female Philosophers (397)
Medieval Philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham) (460)
Topics in the History of Philosophy: Early Modern Theories of Causation (463)
Topics in the History of Philosophy: Descartes (463)
The Scientific Revolution (464)
Continental Rationalism: The Early Modern Concept of Substance (508)
Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Early Modern Theorles of Causation (610)
Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Spinoza’s Ethics (610)
Seminar in the History of Philosophy: Women in Modern Philosophy (610)
Independent Study: Hume’s Theory of Mind
Independent Study: Classics of Western Philosophy

 

École Normale Supérieure, Paris (March 2017)

La métaphysique de la matière au début de l’époque moderne: Suárez, Descartes, Spinoza, taught as professeur invité at ENS

 

Duke University (1989–2010)

Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Logic
Development of the Concept of Mind
History of Modern Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Descartes’s Meditations on First Philosophy
Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding
Leibniz’s Middle and Late Metaphysics
Hume’s Treatise of Human Nature
Hume’s Enquiry concerning Human Understanding and Dialogues concerning Natural Religion
Malebranche, Arnauld and Leibniz
Post-Positivistic Theories of Science
Early Modern and Contemporary Approaches to the Metaphysics of Mind (co-taught)
Early Modern Physics and Metaphysics (co-taught)
Newtonianism and British Empiricism (co-taught)
The Scientific Revolution (co-taught)
Independent Study: Theory of Human Nature in Thomas Aquinas (Summa Theologiae Ia.75-89)