Boston College David Botwinik

Humanities House

Honors Program -- Sophomore Year

The orientation of this course will be philosophical, with considerable emphasis on metaphysics and political philosophy. The initiation and successful acceptance of the modern notions of man, nature, government, progress, science, and history will be studied. General themes that will be explored include:

1. The rise of individualism natural rights and human rights

2. Liberal democracy versus communism -- the relation of the private and the public spheres.

3. The promise and problems of technology -- the application of science to the problems of political and private life.

4. The epistemological attacks on moral knowledge -- the fact-value dichotomy, moral relativism, etc.

5. Historicism -- the premise that all thought is time-bound, true for its era and culture


6. Free will the challenge of determinism.

Readings will include:

The Abolition of Man C.S. Lewis

The Prince Machiavelli

New Atlantis Bacon

Wisdom of the Ancients (selections) "

Great Instauration (selections) "

New Organon (selections) "

Essays (selections) "

Discourse on Method Descartes

Meditations "

Leviathan, I, II Hobbes

Letter on Liberty and Necessity "

(selections on) causation Hume

Pensees Pascal

Second Treatise of Government Locke

Letter on Toleration "

Declaration of Independence Jefferson et. al.

Selected Speeches Lincoln

U.N. Declaration on Human Rights

Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Rousseau

Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals Kant

Reason in History Hegel

Introduction to the Phenomenology of Spirit "

Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels

The Use and Abuse of History Nietzsche

Beyond Good and Evil "

The Dilemma of Determinism William James

Existentialism and Human Emotions Sartre

additional readings may include:

Coriolanus Shakespeare

Antony and Cleopatra Shakespeare

First Discourse Rousseau

Social Contract "

Gulliver's Travels Swift

The German Ideology Marx and Engels


One-page -- due every Tuesday on a reading question assigned the

previous Thursday.

Five-Seven pages -- from a choice of topics assigned.

(A topic of your own may be substituted with the prior approval of

the instructor).

All papers due at 9 am in the Honors Office on day/date specified.

Final Exam

Two one-hour essays (no choices) to be taken from a list of six which will be

distributed in class the final week.

Oral Presentation

Each student will read and defend one of his or her one-page papers in class.

Weeks will be assigned at the second meeting.