One distinctive feature of our Philosophy program is that it immerses you in both analytical and European continental philosophy. That allows our students to make connections that many professional philosophers are incapable of reaching, because they lack such broad training.
What is the Self? How ought I live? What ought I do? What can I know? From day one, our Philosophy AOC at New College will challenge you to think like professional philosophers, immersing you in the critical examination of issues, positions and reasoning.
Philosophy is very much about developing a perspective on issues. We want you to get to know the work that has already been generated in the field, but we also want you to begin to develop your own thinking about issues, your own evaluations of arguments, so you can make your own contributions.
The pursuit of philosophy contributes to understanding ourselves and the world around us in at least three different ways.
The study of philosophy, therefore, should contribute toward the development of your analytical problem-solving capability and ability to deal effectively with issues involving human values. With its concentration on analysis, clarity and argument, the study of philosophy is particularly well suited for the development of critical thinking. Almost all Philosophy courses address spoken and written communication through class discussion and written assignments. As a Philosophy student, you will get extensive feedback on your writing, and you’ll be encouraged to pursue topics of special interest to you, in depth.
Our Philosophy faculty does not believe there are generally accepted philosophical results to teach; instead, you will learn to work critically with subtle, complex and contentious issues. Our classes are small but generate big conversations. Many of our students combine their interest in philosophy with another AOC, such as Art, Political Science, a foreign language or Psychology. And many students who do not major in Philosophy still take many of our courses. These students bring perspectives from other fields, generating lively and compelling conversations.
As a student here, you will explore philosophical issues such as:
At New College, we believe developing skills in analysis, clarity and argument are crucial to a wide range of fields. Students who graduate from New College work in law, business, art, education, psychology, medicine, political science, economics and more. Many of our students pursue graduate school, including top graduate programs in philosophy itself.
Our students must complete seven contracts, three Independent Study Projects and a senior thesis project to graduate. Contracts consist of three to five academic activities — courses, tutorials, internships, independent reading projects, etc. — that will develop your personal educational goals during a semester.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Philosophy:
The ancient Greeks invented philosophy and, in doing so, they gave us many of our basic notions about reality, ethics, and knowledge. By focusing on the dialogues of Plato in the first module and the works of Aristotle in the second, we will explore the foundations of the Western philosophical tradition.
Ethics of Otherness
How can I ever “know” another person? How ought I treat him/her? Are these questions connected? Ought they be? In contemporary European philosophy, such questions are interrogated under the title of “otherness.” This course will examine the paradigmatic paradoxes of “otherness” as found in the work of Hegel and Husserl. It will then inquire into the ethical articulation of “otherness” in the philosophies of thinkers such as Sartre, DeBeauvoir, Buber, Levinas, and Derrida.
This course will be an introduction to some of the thinkers collected under the label of existentialism. Particular existentialist themes I want to stress in this course are freedom, responsibility and creation. Existentialism certainly discusses angst and despair and nausea, but there is also a very powerful creative message–we can create values, and we can create ourselves. The course will include: selections from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: “The Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor”, Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and The Gay Science, and Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit”, Nausea, Existentialism and Human Emotions, and selections from his Being and Nothingness.
This course will include work in syntax, semantics natural deduction for sentential logic and first-order predicate logic. The course may also include a brief introduction to some topics in basic metatheory and a similarly brief intruduction to sentential modal logic.
This seminar will examine key texts and issues central to understanding one or more major figure working in the tradition of German Idealism (e.g. Kant, Hegel, Schelling). Participation will be limited to fourteen, and completion of “Modern Philosophy” is strongly recommended.
Hegel offers a radical critique and development of the Kantian revolution in epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. His approach has inspired many Marxist interpretations and is gaining new adherents today. This course will examine Hegel’s philosophy through close readings of The Phenomenology of Spirit and The Philosophy of Right as informed by commentators from Marx to contemporary thinkers such as Pippin, Brandom, and McDowell.
“Post-modernism” would have been unthinkable without the phenomenological innovations of Martin Heidegger’s being-in-the-world and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s lived-body/flesh. This advanced seminar will center on close reading and discussion of large portions of Heidegger’s Being and Time and Merleau-Ponty’s The Phenomenology of Perception and The Visible and the Invisible. Seminar participation will be limited to fourteen, and some familiarity with European philosophy is required.
Edmund Husserl wrote that his phenomenological reduction was a sort of conversion experience and it’s been joked that “Once you do the reduction you never get out.” It at least seems to be the case that you never quite escape. Much of continental philosophy owes its impetus to an entanglement with Husserl’s phenomenology. Martin Heidegger dedicates Being and Time to him; Merleau-Ponty and Sartre both pick up phenomenology and credit him as inspirations; Foucault finds it important to distinguish himself from him; Derrida’s Speech and Phenomena is a prolonged critique of him—the list goes on. If you are seeking a firm foundation in your studies of continental philosophy, you should begin with Edmund Husserl. In this course, we will thus devote ourselves to this task.
The readings for this course will include selections from: Logical Investigations, The Idea of Phenomenology, Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology, Cartesian Meditations, and The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology.
Introduction to Ethics/Environmental Ethics
This course will begin with an historical introduction to important ethical theories that continue to influence our thinking about ethics today (e.g., virtue ethics, contract theory, sentimentalism, deontology, utilitarianism, and rational choice). It will then ask how such theories might be meaningfully applied to such environmental dilemmas as the extension of ethical principles to other species, competing needs of development vs. conservation, and the conflict between regional self-determination and global legislation and enforcement. The class will continually confront questions about whether traditional ethical theories can cope with the kind of responsibility care for the planet seems to demand.
Introduction to Philosophy
An introduction to some of the areas treated in philosophy: Logic, Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Religion; Ethics; Epistemology. We will look into the various areas by examining one or more problems that are traditionally treated in each of the areas we treat.
Language, Thought, and the World
An introduction to the philosophy of language, in which we’ll investigate such questions as: What makes a sentence mean one thing rather than another? When are two sentences (in the same or different languages) synonymous? How is the meaning of what we say related to our states of mind? To communal convention? To what extent must we know what we mean in order to mean it? What is it to understand what someone else says? We’ll be focusing primarily on 20th century analytic approaches to these questions (especially those associated with Frege on one hand and Wittgenstein on the other), but other approaches will not be excluded.
Medieval Philosophy and Religious Thought
The period from 200 c.e. to 1400 c.e. has often been described as the Age of Faith. And such figures as Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas had important things to say about the nature of God, the relationships of human beings to God, and the nature of faith. They also discussed the nature of reality, analyzed language and its various uses, and offered a variety of theories about the nature of ethics. Their views became the foundation on which later philosophers and theologians constructed their systems. While we will pay special attention to the thought of Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, we will also be concerned with the influential views of such thinkers as Boethius, Scotus Eriugena, Abelard, and Duns Scotus.
Metaphysics comprises philosophical reflection on the Nature of Things and of their most general characteristics and relations. Although the history of analytic philosophy includes a strong strain of hostility to metaphysics, there have always been metaphysicians among analytic philosophers, and contemporary analytic philosophy includes metaphysics as a prominent field of inquiry. To get a sense of the scope of contemporary metaphysical speculation, we shall consider a variety of different metaphysical issues. These might include some of the following: the nature of time, identity through time, necessity and possibility, cause and effect, and the nature of similarity and difference (a.k.a. the Problem of Universals).
Modern European Aesthetic Theory
In this advanced seminar, we will pursue a close study of the major works founding the European tradition of Philosophy of Art, centering on the 19th and early 20th centuries. Readings will included Burke, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche,Heidegger, and Benjamin.
Building on the achievements of the Classical and Medieval Periods, thinkers such as Leibniz, Kant, and Hegel laid the foundation for our contemporary world and its methods of thought and analysis. By focusing on the British Empiricists — Locke, Berkeley, and Hume — and the Continental Rationalists-Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza — we shall trace the thought of the Modern period and its synthesis in Kant’s Critical Philosophy, and the Hegelian, Marxian, and Nietzschian reactions to that synthesis.
The Philosophy of Martin Heidegger
Heidegger is generally regarded as the most important “Continental” philosopher of the 20th Century. In this course, we will concentrate on Part I and II of Heidegger’s Being and Time, but will also consider key texts of the “late Heidegger” as well as discussions of Heidegger by thinkers such as Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze. Seminar participation will be limited to fourteen, and some familiarity with European philosophy is required.
Philosophy of Music
The purpose of this course is to think hard about fundamental issues concerning music: Does music have meaning? If so, what kind is it, and how may it be understood? How is music connected to emotion? If music is an art, what are its “artworks”? What, if anything, is special about written music, and what are the roles of composers and performers as musical creators? What values can music realize, and how can music be evaluated in terms of them?
Philosophy of Science
What makes science science and distinguishes it from other pursuits? How does the evidence cited by scientists support the theoretical claims they make? Is there good reason to believe that those claims are true? In this course, we’ll consider these and other philosophical questions about science. We’ll begin with a fairly orthodox description of scientific method, and proceed to successively more radical accounts of science and scientific knowledge or “knowledge”, including recent feminist accounts.
Recent French Philosophy
French philosophy can seem both tantalizing and elusive. My hope in this course is to retain all that is tantalizing, but at the same time to place it all within reach. One method we will employ to this end is to keep an eye on the methods that the philosophers themselves employ in their philosophical investigations—what are their methods, how and why do they shift? We will begin with the French phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty (reading his Phenomenology of Perception). Next we will examine Foucault who rejects phenomenology early in his career in lieu of new tools of investigation: genealogy and archaeology. We will see these tools in action in History of Sexuality and Madness and Civilization respectively. Finally, we will study one of the most famous methods of recent French philosophy, namely deconstruction, and we will do so by watching Derrida himself deconstruct a Platonic text in Derrida’s work “Plato’s Pharmacy”.
Theory of Knowledge
‘What is knowledge’ is one of the traditional Big Questions of Philosophy. We’ll be concerned with the conditions which must be satisfied in order to know something, with potential sources of knowledge (most notably sense perception and pure thought) and with the nature of evidence and reasons for belief. We’ll also examine skeptical arguments purporting to show that nobody can know anything at all.
Aquinas is one of the key figures of the Middle Ages. His views on the nature of human beings, the existence of God, the nature of morality, to mention a few issues, have influenced subsequent generations in countless ways. In this seminar we will use Brian Davies’s The Thought of Thomas Aquinas to come to understand this important thinker. Primary readings will be from a variety of texts, including his commentaries on Aristotle, the Summa Theologiae, and the Summa Contra Gentiles. We will devote equal time to metaphysical doctrines and ethical doctrines. Some background in the Middle Ages is recommended but not required.
Topics in Philosophy of Religion
This regularly scheduled course will feature two or three important problems that concern people working in philosophy of religion. For this semester we will, in the first module, look at the nature of the soul by examining theories of the soul offered by Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and certain contemporary authors (Swinburne and Lynn Baker). In the second module, we will examine questions about free will and determinism. While our focus will be on the relationship between God’s knowledge and human freedom, we will examine other forms of possible determinism.
For a complete list of courses, click here.
John Peters is one of many students who have parlayed their Philosophy degree from New College into a successful and distinguished career. Peters is an attorney and business consultant and the former chief of staff for Francis Ford Coppola Productions in Calabasas, California. He was a New College charter class member who for many years ran the business side of Francis Ford Coppola’s several different enterprises, from filmmaking to winemaking.
In addition to traditional career paths in law and education, recent New College graduates in philosophy have also gone on to graduate study in professional fields such as planning and policy, labor relations and library science.
New College is proud of the many Philosophy graduates who have contributed to the field. Here’s a sampling of some of our graduates:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Philosophy:
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Philosophy:
“Happiness Is Divine: A Case for the Divinity of the Truly Happy Person of Plotinus’s Enneads” by Arthur Larcinese Krieger
“This Impossible Object: On the Class Struggle, Althusser, and Why Every Anti-Communist is a Dog” by Alec Niedenthal
“Existence and Resistance: A Heideggerian Reading of Foucault’s “Ethical Turn”” by Bill Yanelli
“Recognition in Relational Autonomy” by Rachel Tohn
“The Positive Value of Death: A Reevaluation of Suicide and Self-Sacrifice” by Erin Dyles
“Autonomy and the Value of Humanity: Problems in Korsgaard’s The Sources of Normativity” by Joseph Abboud
“The Self, Language Objects, and Psychedelic Perspectives” by David Krane
“”Here I Am.” A Call for Ethics in Hebrew: Emmanual Levinas’s Ethical/ Political Thought through the Lens of Hebraic Transcendence” by Leila Shooshani
“Unamuno: God, Immortality and the Tragic Sense” by William Soto
“Communicating Privacy: A Politico-Philosophical Investigation of Private Autonomy in Deliberative Democracy” by Kristin Malossi
“An Empirical Investigation into the Demand for Mass Produced Artistic Products” by Chaitanya Katikala
“Scientific Confirmation and Naturalized Mathematical Realism” by Andrew Steele
“Difference as Common: In Defense of Difference as the Anti-Foundation for Liberal Cosmopolitan Dialogue” by Rochelle H. DuFord
“In Defense of Passion” by Anyelle Johanna De León
“The Power of Your Voice Could Redirect Every Truth’: Rap as Resistant Discursive Practice” by Alexandra Rogers
“Moral Psychology, Ethical Relativism, and Blackburn’s Metaethics” by Rudo Kemper
“From Immanence to Otherness” by Marcus Michelsen
“Tolerance and the Landscape of Others” by Christian Pillsbury
“Deluzian Jurisprudence and Law in Societies of Control” by Camilo A. Ramirez-Celis
“An Examination of Deconstruction as Applied to the Political in Jacques Derrida’s The Politics of Friendship” by Lauren Keenan
“A Biopolitical Analysis of Israel’s Separation Barrier” by Annemarie Roberts
“Jazz Improvisation and the Aesthetic of Risk” by Samuel Arthurs
“Selves as Centers of Narrative Gravity” by Carolyn Barker
“Irony and Embodiment: Toward a Rortian Philosophy of the Body” by Christopher Davies
“Personal Identity and Free Will” by John Noah Hudelson
“Situating Standpoints: Negotiating a Queer Perspective in Feminist Theory” by Cesar Mantilla
“The Thing is I: Hegel and Immanent Production” by James M. McCown
“Love’s Ethics: Love as a Legitimate Moral Relation between Persons” by Matthew M. Schuler
“Are Existentialist Narratives Possible?” by Evan Williams
“Questioning Authority: A Skeptical Approach to Reading Plato” by P. N. Eldred
“How Blackburn’s Solution to the Frege-Geach Problem Could Be More Quasi-Realistic” by Eli Bonner
“On Pain and Privacy: The Concept of Sensation in Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations” by Andrew I. Kay
“Flesh of the Deceased: An Examination of Phenomenologies of the Death of the Other” by Craig Schuetze
“Givenness and Revelation: Rethinking the Relationships between Phenomenology and Theology” by Alissa Shea
“A Doubling and Redoubling: The Creation of the Self in Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky” by Katelyn Jones
“Imperialist Modernity” by Hannah Armstrong
“Placing Mercy in Hume’s Catalogue of Moral Virtues” by Kathryn Mesh Iserman
“On Divine Foreknowledge and Human Libertarian Freedom” by Gustavo de Lima Torres Oliveira
“The Word Made Flesh: An Aesthetics as First Philosophy” by Eric Delp
“Moral Responsibility and Decision-Making” by Justin Vickers
“Constituting World: Heidegger’s Path to an Ontological Understanding of Language” by Jessica Williams
“The Cumulative Case for Platonism about Universals: Attribute-Identification in Mathematics” by Justin Clarke-Doane
“Kant on the Problem of Evil” by Michelle Chaplin
“A Meandering Inquiry into the Nature of Material Objects” by Titus Jewell
“An Ethics of Authenticity: Literature as More Than Augmentation” by Tenesha R. Martin
“The Powers of a Pinball: A Discussion of the Scientific Worldview in Twentieth Century Philosophy” by Patrick McIlvain
“Get it? Leo Straiss and the Crisis of Modernity” by Eric Sosnoff
“The Social Transmission of Moral and Religious Beliefs” by Daina Crafa
“Playing Dice with the Universe” by David Barnett
“Make-Believe and the Self: A Look at Self-Deception and the Self of an Actor” by Meghann Cassidy
“A Li(f)e: The World of Gilles Deleuze and Its Problems” by Chris Chrappa
“I, Zombie? Why Zombie Knowledge is Fatal to Chalmers’ Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness” by Alden Hensel
“Zosima’s Theodicy: The Problem of Evil in The Brothers Karamazov” by Christy Stockard
“An All-Consuming Faith: Kierkegaard and Religious Existence” by Robert Hutchison
“Our Bunnies, Our selves: An Exploration of the Ethical Status of Animals” by Robin Jacobs
“Body of Evidence: The Production of Difference in Everyday Social Practice” by Caroline Arruda
“Walt Whitman, American Existentialist” by Henry Paul Belanger
“On the Margins: The Work of Outsider Art as a Possibility of Communication” by Ivy Feraco
“The Silence of the Ethical in Fear and Trembling” by Michael Milton
“Towards a Nietzschean Ethical Agency: in the Playground of Being and Becoming” by Gabriel Pacyniak
“The Social Individual: Carving a Middle Path Between Educational Extremes” by Philip Emery Poekert
“Is Science Social and Does it Matter?” by Ian Vandewalker
“Making Music and Musical Workers: A Suggestion for Ontological Inquiry in the Philosophy of Music” by Edward Anthony Vazquez
“(Dis) Integrated Material: Cyborg Feminism and the Posthuman Body” by Katherine E. Hubin
“Authenticity and Alterity” by Theodore R. Bach
“A Defense of Religious Existentialism: Kierkegaard Versus Sartre” by John Suder
“Philosophy of Everyday Life” by Eric Knopp
The Jane Bancroft Cook Library at New College is home to a broad assortment of books, scholarly journals, national and international databases, and other print and electronic media related to the study of philosophy and is available to students throughout the year.
Also available at the library is the Dr. Helen N. Fagin Holocaust Collection. Named in honor of Holocaust survivor and New College benefactress Dr. Helen Fagin, the collection holds materials related to the Holocaust, genocide and humanitarian studies. The Fagin room can be reserved for occasional small meetings connected with the collection.
Study abroad is highly recommended. Language courses taken abroad may be counted toward your requirements if they lead to at least as much progress as would be expected in a semester here. Many Philosophy students take advantage of the College’s study abroad program as part of an independent study project, a tutorial or as they research their senior thesis. Working with a professor, you can create an independent study project or tutorial for travel during the academic year. You can participate in the National Student Exchange (NSE) and study at one of 190 participating colleges and universities in:
Apply for travel scholarships or National Fellowships. Travel through an accredited study abroad program offered though any university or enroll in an accredited, privately owned study abroad program.
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Playing ping-pong with Professor Aron Edidin. Email him to set up a game!
New College hosts the Biennial New College Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies, which draws top scholars in history, literature, art history, philosophy and other fields. Students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the scholars and attend the conference presentations.
New Topics New College: New Topics is a collaboration of the New College Foundation and New College of Florida. This dynamic community series features guest speakers discussing a range of topics. Tickets are free for students.