Philosophy

Philosophy attempts to find highly disciplined, rational ways of dealing with some of the deepest and most difficult issues in human thought and practice—for example, the nature of mind, the possibility or impossibility of knowledge, and fundamental principles of right and wrong. Philosophy thrives on disagreement; even within the Western tradition, no single approach is universally accepted.

Introductory philosophy courses, which are numbered from 100 to 199, are open to all students without prerequisites. Intermediate courses are numbered from 200 to 399; some have prerequisites, while others do not. Students should consult the instructor before taking an intermediate course as their first venture into philosophy. It is a good idea to take a general course in an area of philosophy before taking a specialized one.

One requirement for the major in Philosophy is a two-term introductory sequence in the history of philosophy. Either DRST 003, Directed Studies: Philosophy, and DRST 004, Directed Studies: Philosophy, (see Directed Studies) or PHIL 125, Introduction to Ancient Philosophy, and PHIL 126, Introduction to Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant, satisfies the requirement. The PHIL 125, PHIL 126 sequence need not be taken in freshman year, though it is strongly recommended that the requirement be completed before the end of sophomore year.

The Department of Philosophy offers a wide range of introductory courses. Expected offerings for 2016-2017 include:

  • PHIL 115, First-Order Logic
  • PHIL 125, Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
  • PHIL 126, Introduction to Modern Philosophy from Descartes to Kant
  • PHIL 175, Introduction to Ethics
  • PHIL 177, Propaganda, Ideology, and Democracy
  • PHIL 178, Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • PHIL 180, Ethics and International Affairs

For a full list of 2016-2017 introductory courses, consult the department’s entry in Yale College Programs of Study.