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Complete information on other HOID courses and seminars is available in the Course Schedule on the University's Registrar's web site.


Each year a number of courses are identified as core courses for the minor. Students completing the minor must take one core course at some point during their studies.

This coming spring semester 2010 there are two new History of Ideas courses being offered for the first time:

PHIL 122A The History of Ethics 
Kate Moran

This course explores several major themes in the history of ethics, specifically in the history of modern ethics. Beginning with modern natural law theory, we begin to see notions of obligation and responsibility develop in moral philosophy. We follow the path of these notions through moral sense theory, Kantianism, and utilitarianism. We conclude with an examination of Nietzsche's response to moral philosophy as he knew it. The course does not presuppose any knowledge of philosophy or philosophical traditions, but it does require a close reading of several major texts.

By the end of the course, you should be able to identify how several major themes in moral philosophy develop or change over the  centuries. The themes include: the nature and origin of moral motivation, and the purpose or goals of moral philosophy.

NEJS 154A World without God: Theories of Secularization
Eugene Sheppard

What is secularization? What does it mean to describe the modern world as wholly secular or independent of any prior religious foundations or beliefs? Is modern political identical intelligible apart from religion? Or does politics remain a translation of religious concepts and is all politics therefore a mode of political theology?

This advanced undergraduate course surveys various debates concerning the historical process and philosophical-political significance of secularization, most especially the secularization of political norms. The course concentrates on the history of European thought since 1650, with special reference to the encounter between Western monotheistic religion and the rationalist modes of criticism that first emerged with the scientific revolution.

The course is divided into two large thematic units. In the first half of the semester, we will investigate historical and philosophical accounts of the translation from religion to science, or philosophical naturalism, in the early modern and modern period, paying special attention to Spinoza’s critique of religion and Hegel’s philosophical recasting of the theological.

In the second half of the semester, we will devote our time to trying to understand some of the most consequential theories of secularization developed over the last 150 years by Hegel, Marx, Weber, Schmitt, Löwith, and Blumenberg. We will end the course by applying some of these theories to synthetic works on the status of "secular" culture in several religious contexts, most notably Judaism and Islam.