Philosophy 314 Philosophy of Religion Autumn 2012 Morton Hall 337 TR 12:45-2:05 Professor: Office: Office Phone: Office Hours: Email: Web: Angel: Call #:
Nicholaos Jones 332B Morton Hall 256.824.2338 MW 12:30-1:30 & 2:45-3:45, TR 2:15-4:00, F 12:30-1:30, and by appointment nick[DOT]jones[AT]uah[DOT]edu www.uah.edu/njones/ angel.uah.edu (podcasts and reading material only – no email) 90854
Course Description We’ll study the work of three major philosophers of religion: Thomas Aquinas (Catholic Christianity); Nāgārjuna (Madhyamaka Buddhism); Charles Hartshorne (Neoclassical/Process Christianity). Topics we’ll discuss include: essence and existence; the nature of God; the nature of good and evil; causation; agency; the nature of the self. Learning Outcomes Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to: - explain and illustrate key technical terms in the philosophical foundations of Catholic Christianity and Madhyamaka Buddhism - interpret and explicate primary-source philosophical writings by Thomas Aquinas and Nāgārjuna - summarize key philosophical theses from Thomas Aquinas and Nāgārjuna - reconstruct arguments for key philosophical theses from Thomas Aquinas and Nāgārjuna - compare key philosophical theses from Thomas Aquinas and Nāgārjuna - assess arguments for key philosophical theses from Thomas Aquinas and Nāgārjuna Course Reading Material Davies, Thomas Aquinas on God and Evil (Oxford: 2011) Westerhoff, Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka: A Philosophical Introduction (Oxford: 2009) Hartshorne, Omnipotence and other Theological Mistakes (SUNY: 1984) Assorted materials available on Angel - Aquinas Packet (compilation of excerpts from Summa Theologica, Summa contra Gentiles, Disputed Questions on Truth, and the Catholic Encyclopedia) - Nāgārjuna, The Fundamentals of the Middle Way - Nāgārjuna, Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning - Nāgārjuna, Precious Garland - Della Santina, Causality and Emptiness: The Wisdom of Nagarjuna
Lecture, Reading, and Assessment Schedule (tentative) 08/23 God & Evil Davies – Chapter 1 – pages 5-8 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 1 – pages 1-2
08/28 Philosophizing about Religion Davies – Chapter 2 (skim) Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 2 – pages 3-7
08/30 Being & Essence Davies – Chapter 3 – pages 19-25 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 3 – pages 8-9
09/04 Causation Davies – Chapter 3 – pages 25-28 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 3 – pages 9-16
09/06 Goodness in General Davies – Chapter 4 – pages 29-33 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 4 – pages 17-19
09/11 Badness in General Davies – Chapter 4 – pages 33-37 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 4 – pages 19-24
09/13 God’s Existence & Essence Davies – Chapter 5 – pages 39-50 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 5 – pages 25-36
09/18 God’s Perfection Davies – Chapter 6 – pages 51-57 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 6 – pages 37-45
09/20 God’s Goodness Davies – Chapter 6 – pages 57-64 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 6 – pages 37-45
09/25 Omnipotence & Evil Davies – Chapter 7 – pages 65-72 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 7 – pages 46-49
09/27 Free Choice Davies – Chapter 7 – pages 72-78 Aquinas Packet – Supplementary Readings for Davies Chapter 7 – pages 46-49
10/02 TBA 10/04 No Class – Fall Break 10/09 Lightning Lecture on Buddhism Aquinas Lexicon Project Due (10/09). Hard copy only. 10/11 Philosophizing about Buddhism Davies – Chapter 1 – pages 3-12
10/16 Svabhāva (Inherent Existence) & Sunyata (Emptiness) Davies – Chapter 2 – pages 19-52
10/18 Negation Davies – Chapter 3 – pages 53-65
10/23 Catuṣkoṭi (Tetralemma) Davies – Chapter 4 – pages 67-90
10/25 Happening, Arising, Enduring, Dissolving Nāgārjuna – Fundamentals of the Middle Way – Chapters 2 & 7 – pages 158-162
10/30 Essence, Existence, Emptiness, Nirvana Nāgārjuna – Fundamentals of the Middle Way – Chapters 15, 24, 25 - - pages 163, 164-168
11/01 Causation Nāgārjuna – Fundamentals of the Middle Way – Chapter 1 – pages 157-158 Davies – Chapter 5 – pages 91-127
11/06 Samsara & Nirvana Nāgārjuna – Sixty Stanzas of Reasoning – pages 1-4 Della Santina – Part Three – Nāgārjuna’s Reasoning: The Sixty Stanzas – pages 67-130 (especially 67-73)
11/08 Agent, Action, Self Nāgārjuna – Fundamentals of the Middle Way – Chapter 8 – pages 162-163 Davies – Chapter 7 – pages 153-164
11/13 Interdependent Origination Nāgārjuna – Fundamentals of the Middle Way – Chapter 26 – page 168 Della Santina – Part Two – Nāgārjuna’s The Heart of Interdependent Origination – pages 47-64 (especially 58-64)
11/15 Madhyamaka Della Santina – Part Four – Nāgārjuna’s Emptiness: The Seventy Stanzas– pages 133-176 (especially 143-152) Davies – Chapter 10 – pages 199-224
11/20 TBA 11/22 No Class – Thanksgiving Break 11/27 Mistakes of Classical Theism Hartshorne – Chapter 1 – pages 1-27
Nāgārjuna Lexicon Project Due (11/27). Hard copy only. 11/29 Alternative to Classical Theism Hartshorne – Chapter 1 – pages 27-49
12/04 Selections from Hartshorne, Chapters 2 & 3 12/11 Essay Due by 2:00pm. MH332B. Hard copies only.
Student Expectations Abide by the UAH Code of Student Conduct. In Class Attend class regularly. It is unlikely that one can succeed in this course without doing this. Arrive at class in a timely fashion: lateness is disruptive. Ask questions and share thoughts, especially if something is not understood. Participate courteously in class discussions. Treat other people's questions as opportunities for learning rather than distractions from lecture. Outside of Class Keep up with the material. Carefully read the selections assigned for each class. Seek help from the instructor (or other students) as often as needed. Consult additional readings on an as-needed basis. Assessment There are two lexicon projects, each worth 35% of the final grade. There is one essay, worth 30% of the final grade. Details about the lexicon projects and essay are appended to the end of this syllabus. Assessments and final grades are assigned according to the following measure: >90% = A -
80-89% = B
70-79% = C
60-69% = D
<60% = F or NC (as appropriate)
Only dire circumstances merit an incomplete. Cheating is unacceptable. You shouldn't cheat. Don't cheat. Seriously. Retain a copy of all graded work, in order to resolve grade disputes. The instructor is not responsible for "lost" material.
The instructor reserves the right to augment the final grades of students who demonstrate superior class performance, and to lower the grades of students who demonstrate a dereliction of their work or contribute to a classroom environment that is not conducive to learning. Final grades may be adjusted +/- 3 points based upon participation and attendance, according to the instructor's judgment. Academic Honesty At the instructor’s discretion, plagiarism and other academic misconduct will be reported promptly to the Vice President for Student Affairs as being in violation of the UAH Code of Student Conduct, Chapter 7, Article III, Part C, Section 1. Plagiarism is defined as "the act of appropriating the literary composition of another, or parts or passages of his writings, or the ideas or language of the same, and passing them off as the products of one's own mind" --Black's Law Dictionary, 5th edition.
Students should refer to page 93 of the Student Handbook to review the definition and examples of academic misconduct. Students should contact the instructor without delay to discuss questions regarding academic misconduct. UAH is committed to the fundamental values of preserving academic honesty as defined in the Student Handbook. The instructor reserves the right to utilize electronic means to help prevent and identify plagiarism, including the use of Turnitin.com. Students agree that by taking this course, all assignments are subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com. Assignments submitted to Turnitin.com will be included as source documents in Turnitin.com’s restricted access database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism in such documents. The terms that apply to the University’s use of the Turnitin.com service, as well as additional information about the company, are described at www.uah.edu/library/turnitin No student may submit, in fulfillment of requirements for this course, any work submitted, presented, or used by the student in any other course, without the prior consent of the instructor. The instructor reserves the right to impose academic sanctions, in lieu of or in addition to those imposed by the Vice President for Student Affairs, upon any student who commits any form of academic misconduct during the course. Students have the right to discuss such sanctions with the instructor before they are imposed, and to protest sanctions to the Vice President for Student Affairs. Miscellany Philosophy is not easy. You must make a serious effort to understand and articulate the material. It helps to take detailed notes, and let your mind wander over what you find interesting outside of the classroom. It also helps to discuss ideas with others, especially people not in the class. If at any time you would like to discuss the issues covered in this course or philosophy in general, feel free to visit during office hours or to arrange a meeting. If at any time you are having problems with the subject matter or the manner of its presentation, do not hesitate to bring this to my attention (in person, via email or anonymous note, etc). It is your responsibility to bring any course-related concerns to my attention. Any student who feels that accommodations based on the impact of a disability are required should contact the instructor privately to discuss specific needs. Please also contact the Disability Support Services at MDH 136 (256-824-6203); they coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Any student who feels that their life is overwhelming or unmanageable is encouraged to contact the Counseling Center at MDH 136 (256-824-6203) for free and confidential appointments. It is normal to use counseling services: no problems are too big or too small. I encourage a free and tolerant atmosphere in class. I encourage and expect questions and challenges at appropriate times during class. I welcome visits to my office. I am here to help you learn. I reserve all federal and state copyrights over my lectures and course materials. I reserve the right to alter any or all portions of this syllabus, at my sole discretion, at any time.
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Philosophy of Religion – Philosophical Lexicon Project Your assignment is to write a philosophical lexicon, one for Aquinas’ philosophy and one for Nāgārjuna’s philosophy. Each lexicon should contain a brief biography of the relevant philosopher (Aquinas or Nāgārjuna) as well as three entries, alphabetically arranged, each of which discusses some technical term from the philosopher. (See below for a non-exhaustive list of possible terms; terms not on the list should be approved by the instructor prior to submitting your work.) Each entry should explain the meaning of the term, illustrate that meaning with specific and concrete examples, situate the term within the philosopher’s work, and explain the significance of the term for the philosopher’s philosophy. While a typical lexicon is a sort of dictionary offering definitions of technical terms, your goal in constructing a philosophical lexicon is, in addition, to explicate those definitions by explaining and illustrating their meaning, to situate each term in a philosopher’s work by identifying texts in which the term plays a prominent role, and to explain the significance of the term for the philosopher’s philosophy by presenting some important claims the philosopher makes which involve the term and reconstructing significant arguments in which the term appears. Consider an extended example, from a (non-existent) lexicon for Karl Marx’s philosophy: estrangement (Entfremdung): characterizes the experience, by workers within a capitalist economic system, of the world in which one lives being foreign and alien. In “Estranged Labor,” part of the Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Marx identifies four types of estrangement: 1.
Estrangement of worker owning the products of vehicle assembly lines produce, because they their labor.
from the product of labor, by virtue of the worker not labor (section XXII). For example, people who work on are estranged, in this sense, from the automobiles they receive wages, rather than vehicles, in exchange for
Estrangement of worker from the activity of labor, by virtue of the worker having no control over the process of production (section XXIII). For example, people who work on vehicle assembly lines perform similar tasks repeatedly throughout their work shifts, with little or no opportunity to exercise creativity regarding the way in which they accomplish those tasks, and little or no opportunity to choose to perform different tasks.
Estrangement of worker from “the life of the species,” by virtue of transforming work from a free and spontaneous activity to a mere means for earning a wage (section XXIV). For example, people who work on vehicle assembly lines typically perform that work, not because vehicle assembly is something that allows them to express their creativity or accomplish their life goals, but because the work is a way to earn a wage – and the wage allows the worker, when not at work, to express their creativity and pursue their life goals.
Estrangement of worker from other workers, by virtue of pitting workers against each other in a competition for labor opportunities (section XXIV). Imagine, for illustration, a town which contains two vehicle assembly plants, one of which shuts down after several years by virtue of the other expanding its market. In order to earn a living, newly unemployed workers (from the closed plant) who either cannot relocate or lack skills to perform a different job must then compete with each other for any new positions at the remaining (expanded) assembly plant.
Marx associates each type of estrangement with certain consequences for the way in which workers experience their life. First, estrangement of the worker from the products of labor leads the worker to view their labor activity as a commodity to be traded, in the same way that the products of their labor are traded. It thus leads the worker to view labor activity as “work,” something that can be assigned an exchange value. Second, estrangement of the worker from the activity of labor leads the worker to experience labor as something to be shunned and undertaken only under compulsion, rather than something to be enjoyed and undertaken spontaneously. For the worker does not find
himself expressed in his labor; instead, the labor is merely a means to satisfy other needs (eating, drinking, procreating, recreating), and if those needs could be satisfied without labor, the worker would find no desire to perform labor. Third, estrangement of the worker from the “life of the species” leads the worker to distinguish his “self” from both his body and the activities his body performs during labor. This interferes with the natural role of labor in human life, according to Marx, because our capacity to perform labor freely and spontaneously, as a way to express ourselves, distinguishes human life from mere animal life (in which labor is directed only toward satisfying immediate needs for the animal or the animal’s offspring). Finally, estrangement of the worker from other workers provokes social conflicts, leading workers to view themselves as competing with each other (for labor opportunities). This view induces within workers a false consciousness, preventing them from cooperating with each other to further their mutual economic interests (such as improved working conditions, better wages, more control over their labor activities, and so on). In “Estranged Labor,” Marx claims that the existence of private property is a product of the fact that, within a capitalist economic system, workers are estranged from the products of their labor (section XXV). The argument seems to be as follows: (1) If the worker is estranged from the product of his labor, then the product confronts the worker as something that does not belong to him. (2) If the product of a worker’s labor does not belong to the worker, it must belong to someone else. (3) If the product of a worker’s labor belongs to someone other than the worker, it belongs to the gods, to nature, or to some person other than the worker. (4) The products of a worker’s labor do not belong to the gods, because the gods are not “the lords of labor.” (5) The products of a worker’s labor do not belong to nature, because labor involves the subjugation of nature (and, presumably, that which is subjugated by an activity cannot own the products of that activity). (6) Hence, if the worker is estranged from the product of his labor, then the product confronts the worker as belonging to some person other than the worker. (7) Private property (presumably) exists when products of labor belong to only particular individuals. (8) Hence, if the worker is estranged from the product of his labor, then the product appears to the worker as private property. Marx’s reason for claiming that neither the gods nor nature own the products of a worker’s labor are not entirely clear: “what a contradiction it would be if, the more man subjugated nature by his labor and the more the miracles of the gods were rendered superfluous by the miracles of industry, the more man were to renounce the joy of production and the enjoyment of the product to please these powers” (section XXV). One of Marx’s motivations for deducing the existence of private property from the estrangement of workers in a capitalist economic system is to show the way in which this estrangement entails the loss of workers’ autonomy and the loss of their capacity for self-realization. For the existence of private property enables the ruling (non“working”) classes to exert control over the workers through ownership of the means of production, and insofar as workers must work for members of the ruling class in order to earn a living, a large portion of their lives are spent performing activities in which they do not express themselves and over which they have little or no control. Marx elsewhere defends the importance of autonomy and self-realization for workers [see “life of the species”], and this defense leads Marx to advocate for the elimination of estrangement (see German Ideology, p.24). Related Entries competition; labor; “life of the species;” worker References Karl Marx, “Estranged Labor,” in Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, trans. Martin Mulligan (Moscow: Progress Publishers: 1959). Available online at . Karl Mark and Frederich Engels, The German Ideology, trans. W. Lough and C.P. Magill, ed. R. Pascal (New York: International Publishers, n.d.).
Note several features of this sample entry: -
the concise and brief abstract definition of the technical term;
the subsequent (less abstract) explanation of the term; the examples which illustrate the meaning of the term and add specificity to the explanation; the references to primary source texts in which the term appears, and the citation of these texts in the body of the entry; the reformulation of Marx’s ideas in the author’s own terms and minimal use of direct quotation; the restriction of the discussion to Marx’s philosophy (rather than incorporating, say, a discussion of Hegel’s use of “alienation” or “estrangement”) the reconstruction, as a deductively valid argument with missing premises supplied, of an argument in which the term appears; the brief discussion of the significance of the term (or the idea which the term denotes) in the philosopher’s larger project; the use of paragraphs, correct grammar and spelling, transitions and other reader cues the list of works cited at the end of the entry.
Each of your lexicons should contain three such entries, and should begin with a biography of the philosopher. The biography should provide important information about the philosopher’s life, including dates of birth and death, areas of residence, significant or interesting personal information, and major philosophical works. Consult almost any person-oriented entry in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for guidance (e.g., “Marx’s Life and Works” at .) Aquinas Lexicon – Possible Entries causation; ens (being); esse (existence); essentia (essence); freedom; God; good/goodness; omnipotence; perfection; will Nāgārjuna Lexicon – Possible Entries atma-ātmiya (self and that which pertains to self); catuṣkoṭi (tetralema); causation; dravya (substance); negation; nirvana; pratītya-samutpāda (interdependent origination/interdependent arising); samsāra; śūnyatā (emptiness); svabhāva (inherent existence)
Philosophy of Religion – Essay There are three possibilities for your essay. (1)
a comparative essay, containing a thesis that critically compares the different views (and arguments for those views) of Aquinas and Nāgārjuna on some topic. For instance: a exposition of their views about substance, or essence, or causation, along with a defense of a thesis concerning whose view is more plausible.
an evaluative essay, containing a thesis that critically evaluates some thesis (and the argument for that thesis) from either Aquinas and Nāgārjuna. For instance: an evaluation of one of Aquinas’ argument for an “Answer” in Summa Theologica.
some other kind of essay, for which you receive prior approval from the instructor.
Your term paper should involve: - a clear statement of the paper's topic, including examples that make vivid the issue you are discussing and why the issue is important or interesting to people other than yourself; - a clear thesis statement, which clearly delineates the contribution you hope to make to ongoing discussions and which can be reasonably well defended within your paper; - a clear and informative exposition of the views (and arguments for those views) by any philosophers you discuss in your paper (do not presuppose that the reader is familiar with the content of any philosophy you discuss in your paper); - arguments in favor of your thesis, including examples that illustrate abstract points and citations to relevant texts (especially primary sources) that support attributions of views to others; - logically good reasoning presented in a systematic way, so that your paper is more than a rambling list of assertions and, instead, exhibits a deliberate structure working its way toward persuading others that your thesis is true; - consideration of possible objections to that thesis, where an effort is made to consider and respond to reasons that reasonable people might give for being unpersuaded by your argument. Whichever kind of paper you decide to write, I recommend meeting with me to discuss your thesis and your plan of attack for writing the paper. You should plan to meet with me prior to Thanksgiving Break. But the meeting is not mandatory. Grading for the term paper is a function of: relevance of topic to the course; clarity of expression; depth of understanding; quality of interpretation, explanation, and argumentation; degree of engagement with philosophers from the course, including sagacious use of quotations and illustrative examples; and dialectical depth. Answers to Common Questions Your grade does not depend upon the length of your paper. Take as many or as few pages as you need in order to complete all elements of the assignment. There is no page requirement. This means that there is no need for fluff. (Chances are your paper will be more than 5 pages but less than 20.) As a student, write for your parents (or someone else with no prior exposure to philosophy.) If your parents could not understand what you've written, try again. If a person from high school, looking only at your notes from class, could have written your paper, try again. Part of the task of writing a philosophy
paper is to demonstrate that you understand the material. Rehashing terminology or lecture notes does not accomplish this. I will give comments on rough drafts (preferably submitted by email), and I will meet with you to discuss your paper. Neither drafts nor are required. But either one (or both) is likely to increase the quality of your paper. You should cite any work you discuss, as well as any works on which you rely in formulating your ideas. Use any citation format with which you are comfortable: the format should allow an intelligent person to find the work you are citing. Your citations should follow a consistent format, and they should allow a reasonable person to locate the source. If you are unsure, show someone else your citation and see whether they could find the source. Standard elements of a responsible citation include: source name; source title; source location; year of publication or access. Structure your paper as you see fit. The only constraint is that you make transparent to your reader what is going on in which parts of your paper, and the way in which the parts of your paper hang together as a coherent whole. Use transition sentences, framing paragraphs, and so on. There is no need for a separate conclusion, in which you summarize the content of your paper. That's boring and, given the probable length of your paper, redundant. Polite Requests Please staple or otherwise bind together the pages of your essay (but please do not use the rip-and-fold or the bend-the-corner binding methods). This helps me to keep all of the papers organized and facilitates transporting the papers between office and home. Please submit a hard-copy of your essay, double-spaced, in a readable font. Times New Roman 12 point is a nice font. So is Calibri 11 point. All of this helps me to avoid straining my eyes. (The hard-copy also helps me to keep track of submissions: sometimes technology doesn't cooperate and I can't get to a printer that works in a timely manner.) Please do not use a separate cover page or submit your essay in a folder. Put your name at the very top of the first page. Put a title below that, with center justification. Then insert one or two blank lines and begin your essay. This helps to prevent unnecessary use of our natural resources and reduce waste. For the same reason, please do not use a separate page for references. Enter one or two blank spaces after your last sentence and then insert your references (if any). General Advice Before you submit your paper, read it aloud to yourself, at full speaking volume, as if you were reading it to someone else. This is likely to reveal grammatical infelicities and, to some degree, areas of unclarity or disorganization. Make notes on your paper as you read it, and revise your paper in light of these notes. Be sure that you illustrate abstract ideas with examples and explain to the reader the content or significance of any quotation. Good writing is not separable from clear writing. Clear writing involves, among other things, grammatically well-formed sentences, correctly spelled words, properly used punctuation, sacrifices of style to intelligibility (the best sounding sentence is not always the easiest to understand one), and frequent indications to the reader about what is going on in the paper. (At the same time, clear writing
is not the same thing as good writing: goodness also depends on depth of understanding, quality of content, and dialectical depth). If you have questions about your essay, ask at least one full week before the essay is due. Do not wait until the last minute to begin work on your essay. Since you have advance notice about when the essay is due and what the essay content should be, and since I am available (in office hours, by appointment, and by email) to discuss any aspect of your essay with you, I am not prone to be sympathetic to hearing that you were unable to do a good job because of your obligations in other courses, at home, or at work. Nor am I prone to be sympathetic to hearing that you misunderstood or misinterpreted the assignment. I tend to write only a few comments on essays. If, after receiving a grade on an essay, you desire a more thorough explanation of that grade, or if you desire instruction on how to improve your future essays, you should meet with me for clarification and assistance, either during office hours or by appointment.