Courses

I have been teaching undergraduate philosophy courses at the University of Miami since the Spring of 2015.

Spring 2020  

Metaphysics

 

The history of metaphysics is a history of disputes regarding which no consensus has been reached. The aim of this class is to approach several of such disputes in giving an overview of the history of metaphysics as well as drawing all kinds of parallels between metaphysics and politics. The core questions raised in the class are: What is Donald Trump’s God? Is there a God of capitalism? What is justice? What is a Platonic form? Is there a Christian God? Does the Christian God sanction war? What kinds of sexual practices are sanctioned by the Christian God? Can skepticism be answered? Can I doubt that I exist? Is Descartes’s argument for God’s existence persuasive? Is God to be blamed for my errors? Do we have immaterial souls distinct from our material bodies? Should we believe in the Christian God for practical purposes? Is metaphysics to be committed to the flames? Are there miracles? Can metaphysics provide knowledge of things-in-themselves? Is metaphysics a legitimate epistemic inquiry vis-à-vis mathematics and the empirical sciences? If metaphysics is not a legitimate epistemic inquiry, what role can it play? Is the Christian God dead? Can there be a superman? Is Cristian metaphysics a disease? What is metaphysics? Do metaphysical statements make sense? Do entities have accidental and essential properties? Can metaphysics be politically neutral or is it always approached by means of a politically engaged view (e.g., a right-wing or a left-wing one)? How is one to react to fact that, since immemorial times, persons have been engaged in disputes in metaphysics?

Fall 2019  

Metaphysics

The history of metaphysics is a history of disputes regarding which no consensus has been reached. In this class, we will discuss several of such disputes: namely, how did the Ancient Greeks think before metaphysics? Is there being or change? Can disputes in metaphysics be solved? What is justice? Are there forms? Is the ontological argument for God’s existence persuasive? Is the cosmological argument for God’s existence persuasive? Is there an external world outside my mind? Do I exist? Is Descartes’s argument for God’s existence persuasive? Do we have immaterial souls distinct from our material bodies? Is God to be believed merely for practical purposes? Is metaphysics to be committed to the flames? Are there miracles? Can metaphysics provide knowledge of things-in-themselves? Is metaphysics a legitimate epistemic inquiry vis-à-vis mathematics and the empirical sciences? If metaphysics is not a legitimate epistemic inquiry, what role can it play? Is God dead? Can there be a superman? Is metaphysics a disease? What is metaphysics? Is the feeling of dread a source of metaphysical knowledge? Do metaphysical statements make sense? What is the first dogma of empiricism? What is the second dogma of empiricism? How are we to understand the distinction between proper names and definite descriptions? Are there a-posteriori necessary statements? Are our minds identical to our bodies? The approach of the class will be historical.

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020 

Ancient Philosophy

What is justice? Is justice better than injustice? What is a just political community (city)? What is a just man? What is there? What grounds what? How can we know what there is? How can we know what grounds what? How should we live? In which city should we live? In discussing these and other questions, this class gives an overview of Ancient Philosophy, up to Plato. The class has two sections. First, we will deal with Socrates’s opponents ––the ordinary Greek man; the pre-Socratics (mainly, Heraclitus and Parmenides); and the Sophists (mainly, Protagoras). Second, in spelling out Socrates’s responses to these opponents, we will approach Plato’s Republic. Throughout the class, contemporary digressions will be made. This will serve to connect the Greeks with contemporary matters, such as Trump’s worldview, terrorism, racism, feminism, pornography and depression

Spring 2017, Spring 2018 

Modern Philosophy

What are the requirements for a philosophy to be modern as opposed to pre-modern, or post-modern (if there is such a philosophy)? This class is driven by this question. We will start with a brief study of what has been considered a standard case of pre-modern philosophy: Aquinas’s. Then, we will approach the works of four philosophers who have been taken as standard cases of modern philosophers ––Descartes, Hume, Kant and Hegel. This will be the core of the class. The class ends with a brief study on what has been considered a standard case of post-modern philosophy: Nietzsche’s. Here are some other questions that will be considered in the class. Is there a God? If yes, how can we know that there is a God? Can we know anything whatsoever? If yes, how can we know? What do we know? Is there a soul? If yes, is the soul distinct from the body? How can mathematical knowledge and empirical knowledge be differentiated? Is causality grounded by habit? Are there miracles? Is metaphysics possible? What is transcendental idealism? What is the analytic / synthetic distinction? Can philosophy provide a-historical answers to any of the aforementioned questions? What is phenomenology? What is the absolute? Is God dead?

Spring 2020

Contemporary Moral Issues

Contemporary moral issues are ongoing ethical and/or political disputes regarding which no consensus has been reached. Examples of such disputes are: What is a terrorist? Can there be a just war? What is a natural sexual practice? Is homosexuality unnatural? Should we believe in God for practical purposes? Should we use violence when opposing racism? Are Donald Trump’s policies warranted by God? Is there a God of capitalism? Is Trump a fascist? What is Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialism? Should we be allowed to genetically intervene in ourselves and in our kids? Is suicide a morally permissible action? Is it morally permissible for the state to kill a criminal? Should abortion be a crime and a humiliation? Do we live in a culture of political correctness? What is the right-wing/left-wing distinction? Is pornography to be banished? What is the difference between sexual harassment and sexual assault? Can there be a morally permissible school shooting? Is God dead? This class approaches all of these disputes by considering two kinds of writings: non-academic writings by deviants (e.g., Charles Manson), politicians (e.g., Donald Trump) and/or writers (e.g., Anaïs Nin); and writings by distinguished philosophers. The class has two sections. The first section addresses those who deal with contemporary moral issues by using the concept of “God”. The second section discusses those who approach contemporary moral issues without relying on this concept.

Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2018, Fall 2019 

Contemporary Moral Issues

A deviant is a person who causes a contemporary moral issue. How ought we to react to deviants?  This question drives this class, which has three parts. The first approaches two death-related contemporary moral issues: suicide and death penalty. The second part deals with two birth-related contemporary moral issues: abortion and artificial selection. The third part is the main focus of the class and is about five life-related contemporary moral issues: communism, racism, drug use, pornography and terrorism. The primary readings of the class are non-academic writings by the following deviants: Kurt Cobain, Charles Manson, Anaïs Nin, Hitler, Che Ghevara, Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Allen Ginsberg, Linda Lovelace, Oriana Small, Osama Bin Laden, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The secondary readings of the class are philosophical texts by distinguished authors

Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

  Introduction to Philosophy

Is there a God? If yes, how can we know God and should we act in accordance with God’s will? Should philosophers-king rule our state? Are there abstract objects, such as properties like Beauty? Can the question “Is there a god?” be answered? Is suicide morally right? What is the relation between our minds and bodies (or brains)? To be moral is to maximize utility? Is there a moral law? Can skepticism be answered? Do we know our minds better than anything else? Is empirical knowledge more certain than a priori knowledge? Is metaphysical knowledge possible? Are Christians sick? Does the nothing “nothings”? Are metaphysical statements meaningless? What is it like to see the color red? Is it is possible to know what is like to have children before actually having them? These are a few of the questions that will be discussed in this class. The approach developed will be historical. We will read ancient, medieval, modern as well as contemporary philosophers