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Philosophy III

Philosophy 3 – 2017 Course Overview

Course co-ordinator: Okeja u.okeja@ru.ac.za

Lectures & Tutorials: Days and Periods TBA

Lecture Venue: Chemistry Minor

Course work (tutorial assignments, essays, class tests) 40%
Examinations (Papers 1 & 2 in June; Papers 3 & 4 in November) 60%


TERM 1: African Philosophy (Uchenna Okeja)

This course introduces students to African philosophy. It begins with an assessment of the status of the discipline in South Africa vis a vis other African countries and concludes with analyses of a set of questions. Important questions of African philosophy about personhood, development, time, truth, the nature and aim of governance and the justification of norms will be systematically discussed and evaluated.


TERM 2: Options
The class is divided into four smaller groups. You can choose one of these options:

  • Philosophy of Love and Sex (Francis Williamson)

    What is love? How does romantic love differ from filial love, or parental love, or even friendship? Is romantic love necessarily sexual or bodily in nature? Does the erotic or sexual necessarily point beyond itself to actual love? In short, what are the foundational elements in a mature and philosophically robust account of sexual morality?

    This course explores these and adjacent issues by means of a close reading of (part of) Alexander Pruss’ book One Body: An Essay in Christian Sexual Ethics (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). Even though Pruss’ book aims at a Christian account of these matters, and the course itself takes this dimension seriously, nothing in his or our philosophical treatment presumes religious commitment or authority .  As Robert George of Princeton University has said in review of Pruss’ book: “This is a terrific—really quite extraordinary—work of scholarship. It is quite simply the best work on Christian sexual ethics that I have seen. It will become the text that anyone who ventures into the field will have to grapple with—a kind of touchstone. Moreover, it is filled with arguments with which even secular writers on sexual morality will have to engage and come to terms."


  • Teaching and Learning (Larry Bloom)

    Details to be announced


  • Self-Knowledge (Richard Flockemann)

    When we are in pain, or when we are daydreaming, imagining certain things or entertaining certain beliefs, it seems we know that we are. This knowledge of our own minds, it seems, is highly unusual in several ways. For instance, it is direct -- it is not based on any obvious evidence -- and it seems especially resistant to sceptical doubt (that he was thinking was the one thing Descartes could not bring himself to doubt).  In this course we will examine the nature and extent of this special form of self-knowledge. The sorts of questions we will ask are: how exactly do we know our own minds? Is self-knowledge really immune to scepticism? What kinds of facts about our own minds are available to us via this special introspective access? Is the idea that we have privileged access to our own minds compatible with naturalism?


  • Racism and the Reality of Race (Ward Jones)

    Philosophy since Socrates has been concerned with the ‘What is …’ question. What is justice? What is a person? What is knowledge? The question of this course is precisely in this train of thought: What are races? Are they biological entities? Are they social entities? What role do they play in our lives? What is the relationship between the nature of races and racism? In this course, we will look at some interesting and challenging new work, mostly from North America, on the metaphysics of race. Your metaphysics of race, I will argue, translates into your racial identity. The aim of this course is for you to come to grips with yourself as a racial being and to form your own informed ideas about what it means to live in a world in which people are raced and treat each other as raced.


TERM 3: Classical Chinese Philosophy (Marius Vermaak)

Details to be announced


TERM 4: Metaphysics: Time, Fate and Freedom (Francis Williamson)

This is a course in Metaphysics which explores some of the central problems associated with time and its relation to human freedom.Some of the issues we explore include these:

  • Does the existence now of truths about the future imply fatalism?
  • If time is real, does its reality privilege the present? Are times past/future as real as the present?
  • Does time necessarily involve change, or can there be a flow of time without any change at all?
  • What is eternity, and does God’s eternal foreknowledge mean that we cannot really be free?
  • How does time relate to causation? Are causes necessarily before their effects?
  • Is time-travel metaphysically possible? Can I travel back in time and kill my grandfather well before I am even born?

A course reader will be provided.

Last Modified :Tue, 30 May 2017 15:57:24 SAST