Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Atheism & Philosophy
Spring Semester 2012-
PHIL 4800-003 Readings in Philosophy:
Atheism & Philosophy
With special emphasis on ethics, and how atheists, agnostics, humanists and other deity-deniers establish a personal sense of right and wrong.
Were all other things, gods and men and starry heavens, blotted out from this universe, and were there left but one rock with two loving souls upon it, that rock would have as thoroughly moral a constitution as any possible world which the eternities and immensities could harbor. It would be a tragic constitution, because the rock's inhabitants would die. But while they lived, there would be real good thing and real bad things in the universe; there would be obligations, claims, and expectations; obediences, refusals, and disappointments; compunctions, and longings for harmony to come again, and inward peace of conscience when it was restored; there would, in short, be a moral life, whose active energy would have no limit but the intensity of interest in each other with which the hero and heroine might be endowed.
We, on this terrestrial globe, so far as the visible facts go, are just like the inhabitants of such a rock. Whether a God exist, or whether no God exist, in yon blue heaven above us bent, we form at any rate an ethical republic here below. And the first reflection which this leads to is that ethics have as genuine and real a foothold in a universe where the highest consciousness is human, as in a universe where there is a God as well. "The religion of humanity" affords a basis for ethics as well as theism does.
-William James, “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life”
Was James right? We’ll see. The course will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40 – 4:05, in James Union Building room 202.
Readings will include
· Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction
· Anthony, Philosophers Without Gods
· Blackford, Fifty Voices of Disbelief
· Harris, The Moral Landscape
For more information contact Dr. Oliver, firstname.lastname@example.org