Personal Identity and Choice|
Fall 2021 not offered
This course explores philosophical reflections on the problem of personal identity and its relationship to matters of choice and freedom. How do certain experiences and thoughts and physical materials compose oneself? Am I the same person over time even through complete transformations of experience, thought, and material? Can I choose which elements of my existence to count as essential? Some argue the concept of a unified and enduring self partakes of illusion; at the other extreme, some argue for the permanent integrity of individual souls. Regarding choice and freedom, we find a related debate, ranging from those who deny free will altogether to those who define humanity's essence in terms of choice and agency. Might we coherently say that some human selves can have more integrity and others less? What gives a measure of meaningful coherence to a person's life? Similarly, can we distinguish some choices as more free than others? What makes for meaningful choice? Besides serving as an introduction to philosophical reasoning, the course will draw interdisciplinary connections on themes such as social identities, religious experience, political freedom, and legal responsibility.
||Gen Ed Area Dept:
|Course Format: Seminar||Grading Mode: |
||Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (PHIL)(PHIL-Philosophy)(PHIL-Social Jus)(SISP-Phil Ethic)(SISP-Phil Mind)
Pereboom ed., FREE WILL (anthology)
Course reader with additional articles, including (subject to revision) selections by Sara Ahmed, Linda Alcoff, Akeel Bilgrami, Susan Brison, Judith Butler, W.E.B. DuBois, Daniel Dennett, Irving Goffman, William James, Ian Hacking, Sally Haslanger, Alasdair MacIntyre, Jennifer Radden, Naomi Scheman, Richard Shusterman, Mark Siderits, Bernard Williams.
|Examinations and Assignments: |
Weekly concise critical responses to readings, preparation of discussion activities, midterm essay, final essay.
|Additional Requirements and/or Comments: |
This First Year Seminar is part of Wesleyan's Learning and Living Program. Students who register for this class will live together in the same residence hall. Because students are living in close proximity to one another, intellectual discussions and collaborative learning more naturally extend beyond the classroom. This arrangement facilitates group assignments and projects, and allows for the growth of a strong community of students through daily interactions. Strengthening students' intellectual and residential community enhances the undergraduate experience for Learning and Living seminar participants.
This course will focus on the process of critically reflective writing and revision. Writing, in this course, does not rest with summarizing knowledge nor taking and defending positions. Instead, it becomes a medium for anticipating dialogue and thematizing problems more clearly. Although students may request that a particular piece of their writing not be shared, the usual procedure in class will involve open and constructive discussion of one another's approach to writing.
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