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Indiana University Bloomington

Undergraduate Program

Structure of the Philosophy Curriculum

Introductions to the total scope of philosophy are provided by the 100- and 200-level courses, while courses at the 300-level and above tend to serve more specific interests. Courses at the 500-level and above are intended for graduate students, although a well-prepared undergraduate might be admitted with the consent of the instructor. Conversely, a graduate student with a weak background in philosophy, say, from another department, may sometimes be permitted to take an undergraduate course by signing up for P590 and doing additional work (check with the instructor or graduate advisor about the appropriateness in a given case).

Many of the sections of introductory courses are topically subtitled, and the student is well-advised to read the associated course descriptions to find a section best suited to his or her interests. P100 is the basic introduction to Philosophy, but students can get introductions to special areas through P135 (Phenomenology and Existentialism), P140 (Elementary Ethics), P135 (Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy), and P150 (Elementary Logic).

The courses P240 (Business and Morality) and P250 (Symbolic Logic) focus in a more specific direction than do their corresponding 100-level counterparts (P140 and P150), but they are perfectly introductory and do not have those counterparts as prerequisites. The difference between P140 and P240 is that P240 focus especially on problems in business ethics. The difference between P150 and P250 is that P250 focuses more intensely on the use of symbolic techniques in the evaluation of logical reasoning.

Putting things quickly, P250 might be recommended in place of P150 to any student interested in the use of formal techniques in the sciences and/or students who have some mathematical aptitude, where P150 would be the place to start for the student more interested in gaining skills in "everyday reasoning" (P150 is often especially good for pre-law students wishing to prepare for the Logical Reasoning component of the LSAT). Students can take both P150 and P250 (also P140 and P240), and this might even be wise in some cases of special or developing interest, but the student would do well to consult with the instructors regarding potential overlap.

P105 (Thinking and Reasoning) is also a kind of logic course, but the ordinary student wanting a "logic course" would probably be best advised to take either P150 or P250. P105 has less theoretical content than either of these, and concentrates on developing fundamental reasoning skills in a practical academic context — skills that should have broad immediate application to courses in other departments. (Different sections use different texts from fields like Political Science, Psychology, or Biology as a source of examples.)

A systematic account of the history of philosophy is provided in the P201/P211/P301/P304 sequence, but each of these courses may also be taken individually and in any order (though the given order is best for systematic study). P201 (Ancient Greek Philosophy) and P211 (Modern Philosophy: Descartes through Kant) provide the basic framework on which much of Western thought is hung. P302 (Medieval Philosophy) and P304 (Nineteenthth-Century Philosophy) are extensions of this framework. Other 200-level history of philosophy courses deals with Jewish Philosophy (P204), and Oriental Philosophy (P271, P272).

Other courses in the history of philosophy may be found at higher levels, including courses not having lower division counterparts. These include courses in Chinese philosophy, Indian philosophy, Marxism, American pragmatism, and Phenomenology and Existentialism.

There are also advanced courses in ethics, social and political philosophy, and logic, as well courses having no precise lower level versions (except insofar as P100 may touch on some of their topics). These include courses in metaphysics, epistemology (theory of knowledge), philosophy of religion, philosophy of art and musical aesthetics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language.

Offerings vary from semester to semester; the on-line course descriptions are intended to provide detailed information about a given term's offerings. If you have additional questions concerning our courses, please get in touch with the staff in the Philosophy Department Office (contact information below). They will be happy to help you, and can direct you or forward your message to an undergraduate advisor or other faculty member with the relevant knowledge.