Graduate Course Descriptions

The complete list of courses offered on a rotating basis can be found in the LMU Bulletin with graduate Level seminars beginning at PHIL 6100.


  • PHIL 6710: Plotinus

    Course Title: Plotinus

    Date/Time: Monday, 4:00 - 6:30pm

    Instructor: Eric Perl

    Course Description:

    The philosophy of Plotinus (205-270 C.E.), now called Neoplatonism, swept the world of late antiquity, dominated early medieval thought, continued to be influential in the high Middle Ages, profoundly influenced Christian, Jewish, and Islamic thought, was revived in the Renaissance, and has been a formative power in western civilization in general. Today his thought is being retrieved yet again, especially in relation to recent continental philosophy. Even more significant than the historical importance of Plotinus, however, is the intrinsic value of his philosophy, which lies in his profound reflection on the nature of reality, of thought, and of human selfhood, all in relation to transcendence, radically conceived. The course will consist of a close study of a wide range of Plotinus’ works, aimed at articulating the fundamental structures of reality in relation to its transcendent source, of thought, and of human life as he understands them. The main emphasis of the course will be on metaphysical and gnoseological themes, but we will also attend to ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual issues: for Plotinus, none of these aspects of philosophy can be separated, or perhaps even distinguished, from each other.

    Prerequisites/Required Background:

    None, but some familiarity with Plato and Aristotle will be helpful.

    Required texts:

    • Plotinus, tr. A.H. Armstrong (Loeb Classical Library), vols. 1, 5, and 7.

    Course work/Expectations:

    • Regular attendance, preparation, and participation in class discussions
    • Two short papers (3-5 pages each)
    • Term paper (ca. 20 pages)
  • PHIL 6742: Hegel

    Course Title: Hegel 

    Date/Time: Tuesday, 4:00 - 6:30pm

    Instructor: Mike D. Morelli

    Course Description:

    Much of contemporary philosophy is carried out in the long shadow of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1781). It is still widely assumed that Kant successfully determined in that revolutionary work the insurmountable limitations of the human mind. But, in 1807, just three years after Kant’s death, G. W. F. Hegel illustrated in his Phenomenology of Spirit that Kant’s first Critique was not of the human mind per se but of the human mind as conceived at a certain stage in the development of human consciousness and self-knowledge. Hegel’s introduction of both historical consciousness and the conception consciousness as historical into philosophizing relativized the Kantian critique against the dynamic background of the development of human consciousness and thereby raised philosophy to a new and higher level of reflection. Hegel radicalizes Kant’s critical shift with his own shift “from Substance to Subject” and puts Kant’s fixed categories of “the mind” in motion. His Phenomenology of Spirit is his narrative reenactment of the dialectical development of human consciousness from its global primitive beginnings toward the differentiated comprehensive and coherent view he names “Absolute Knowledge.” His subsequent Logic is at once a logic and an ontology, an account of the dialectical self-unfolding of the “Absolute Idea.” The real Hegel was quickly obscured by the Marxian, Kierkegaardian, Nietzschean, and British realist reactions to his thought. The subtlety and richness of his thought has been further obscured by persistent myths and legends about its content and its implications. More recently, in some quarters a recovery of the original Hegel has been underway. We shall attempt to read Hegel for ourselves, with an eye to his own intentions, rather than through a Marxian, Kierkegaardian, Nietzschean, or British realist lens and without being predisposed by the tenacious myths and legends. Readers of Hegel have tended to emphasize either his Phenomenology of Spirit (“left Hegelians”) or his Logic (“right Hegelians”). Those who emphasize the Phenomenology of Spirit, moreover, typically focus on a portion of that work (the master/slave dialectic, which happens to be more accessible than the rest of the book) and ignore the remainder. In this course we shall begin with Hegel’s Introduction to his History of Philosophy where he articulates in an accessible way his historical conception of the philosophical enterprise, and then we shall devote the bulk of the course to a careful reading of his Phenomenology of Spirit. This is a lot of ground to cover in a single semester, but we shall do our best. If we have time, we’ll read excerpts from the so-called ‘smaller’ Logic from his Hegel’s Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences. The syllabus may be adjusted as we proceed.

    Learning Outcomes

    A good grasp of (1) the problems to which Hegel was responding, (2) his approach to the solution to those problems, (3) the solution itself, (4) the impact of Hegel’s innovations on subsequent philosophy, and (5) the limitations of Hegel’s solution.

    Required Texts

    • Hegel’s Introduction to the Lectures on the History of Philosophy, trans. Quentin Lauer, will be available at no cost through the LMUConnect/Blackboard site for this course
    • Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller, Oxford, 1979. ISBN 0198245971
    • Frederick Beiser, Hegel. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415312086, for an overview
    • Excerpts from The Encyclopaedia Logic will be distributed if we have time


  • PHIL 6990: Teacher Orientation/Practicum

    Course TitleTeacher Orientation/Practicum 

    Section Times/Days: TBA

    Instructor: Mark Morelli

    Course Description: 

    The Teaching Orientation and Practicum (TOP) is a two-semester sequence of eight workshops (beginning in January and ending in April) that prepares M.A. candidates in philosophy to serve as teaching assistants, to lead class discussions, and to teach an introductory course in philosophy through readings, writing assignments, discussions, interviews with professors, and the construction of a course syllabus. This is a non-credit course that leads to the granting of a certificate of participation. Students must register for TOP for both Spring and Fall semesters to complete the program. M.A. students who participate in TOP are eligible to apply for positions as Teaching Fellows.

    Student Learning Outcomes:  

    By successful completion of this course, students will:

    • Understand the fundamentals of good college instruction.
    • Be able to enter the classroom with confidence when teaching their first college course.
    • Value excellence in college instruction.

    Prerequisites/recommended background:

    Restricted to students matriculated in the Philosophy M.A. program, who normally register for TOP during their second and third semesters.

    Course Work/Expectations: 

    On-time attendance and participation in at least six of the eight workshops; completion of all eight writing assignments, interviews, and exercises.

  • PHIL 6995: Oral Examinations

    Course Title: Oral Examinations

    Section Times/Days: TBA

    Instructor: Tom Ward

  • PHIL 6998: SS: Foucault

    Course Title: Special Study: Foucault

    Instructor: Brad Stone

    Date/Time: Thursday 7:00 - 9:30pm

    Course Description:

    Michel Foucault is one of the key figures of 20th century French philosophy. This course focuses on Foucault’s methodologies (archaeology, genealogy, and ethics), ontological categories (epistemes/orders of discourse, dispositifs/networks of power, and asujettissements/forms of subjectivity), and associated philosophical themes (poststructuralism, philosophy of the social sciences, phenomenology, critical theory, feminism/queer theory, etc.).

    Learning Outcomes:

    • Students will know the key elements, methodologies, and themes of Foucauldian philosophy.
    • Students will be able to read carefully, think critically, and write clearly (at a graduate level)
    • Students will value methodology as the formulation of metaphysical commitments.

    Required Texts (subject to change):

    • Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
    • Michel Foucault, The Birth of the Clinic: An
    • Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge
    • Michel Foucault, Aethetics, Methodology, and Epistemology (ed. Rabinow)
    • Michel Foucault, Ethics (ed. Rabinow)
    • Michel Foucault, Power (ed. Rabinow)
    • Additional PDFs, handouts, and manuscripts as needed

    Course Work/Expectations:

    • Weekly reading, attendance, and participation
    • At least one Protokoll (review of previous session, questions for the class)
    • Research proposal
    • 3000-word final essay
  • PHIL 6998: SS: Early Modern British Aesthetics

    Course Title: SS: Early Modern British Aesthetics

    Section Times/Days: Wednesday, 4:00-6:00 p.m.

    Instructor: Martin Nemoianu

    Course Description:

    What is beauty? Is it indeed related to truth? To goodness? To God? How do we account for beautiful objects, and what are the characteristics of such objects? Is beauty always allied to love and to pleasure? Might there not be beautiful objects which produce awe? Fear? Pain? Might there not be tragic beauty? Destructive beauty? And what of the eye of the beholder? Is it really true that de gustibus non est disputandum, and, so, à chacun son goût? Is there really no accounting for taste? The course will address questions like these through the careful study of four British philosophers of the early modern period: Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Burke. Our aim will be not only to understand their views but also to see how we may apply them to our own experience.

    Learning Outcomes:

    Students will:

    -develop their understanding of the aesthetic thought of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson, Hume, and Burke.
    -value early modern aesthetics, both in itself and as a springboard for reflection on contemporary concerns.
    -learn to read carefully, think critically, and write clearly.

    Required Texts (subject to change):

    • Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, ed.
    • James T. Boulton (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968)
    • David Hume, Essays: Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. Eugene F. Miller (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987)
    • Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, ed. Wolfgang Leidhold Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008)
    • Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, ed. Douglas Den Uyl (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001)

    Course Work/Expectations:

    Nothing unusual.