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2022 Courses

The 2022 HCSPiP will be held June 26 - July 9. Unlike other philosophy summer programs, the HCSPiP is designed not mainly to prepare students for graduate work, but to explore new ways to teach and learn philosophy.  Instructors are all committed to active, student-centered learning.  The classes may not feel like philosophy classes to which you may have become accustomed!

Philosophy and Comedy, Prof. Ashley Pryor (University of Toledo)

In this course, we will explore four major philosophical theories of comedy: Play, Relief, Superiority and Incongruity. Not only will we consider what Aristotle and Kierkegaard had to say about incongruity, or what Kant and Shaftesbury considered comedic relief to be, we will have the opportunity to examine the work of our favorite comedians, and create our own comedic work in the forms of joke writing, improv, satire and sketch to produce a comedy showcase. Finally, we will learn ways to transfer the skills of comedic writing (creating a strong point of view, editing and revising work for clarity and force of expression, doing quick but effective and ethically responsible research for a short satiric publication) to significantly improve the effectiveness of our writing for other contexts.

Philosophers Reimagine the World: A Conceptual Toolbox for 21st Century Possibilists, Prof. Anthony Weston (Elon Univesity)

This course will be a fast-forward exploration of some of Philosophy’s farther possibilities. Its central aim is to offer forming young philosophers a vision of an urgent, venturesome, thoroughly engaged, and reconstructive kind of philosophical work… and life: to expand and enliven your sense of what philosophical study and practice could be, for you personally and in the culture at large. The course is informed by Philosophy as you will probably have encountered it so far in your undergraduate careers, but at the same time the course will aim to systematically and repeatedly leapfrog the imaginative and other limits of the usual pedagogies and disciplinary conceptions of the field and its possibilities. Karl Marx famously wrote that while philosophers try to “solve” the world, the real need is to change it. But Marx too (very notably) had his “solution”. What would a Philosophy be like that really does prioritize and work systematically – and skillfully! – on the “change” side... foregrounding practice, like any thorough-going Pragmatism? At least, what can free-spirited, inventive, and full-hearted young philosophers do at this moment in the life of the culture? Today’s multiple and overlapping crises might also, taken aright, be seen as (yes) opportunities. But for what? In particular, what kind of thinking and engagement might it take – whether we have yet learned to call it “philosophy” or not – to bring such possibilities into view, again both for ourselves and others?

Disagreement in the Digital Age: Philosophical Reflection About/With New Technology, Prof. Michael Barnes (Western University)

This seminar will focus on the problems—and potential—presented by online communication platforms. Specifically, we will set out to consider the conditions—material, political, technological—that encourage productive discussion and disagreement, and those that undermine it. We will examine the value of open communication and disagreement in both a theoretical way—by reading and reflecting on philosophical texts—and in a practical way—by experimenting with diverse discussion formats, online and IRL. The aim throughout is to assess the (in)compatibility of novel communication platforms with the communicative values we currently hold. Readings in this course will focus both on what makes good discussion good, as well as how technological change shapes how discussion is currently practiced. For this latter topic, we’ll consider specific issues like misinformation, echo chambers, and anonymity on the internet, as well as broader topics like the real-world effects of online hate speech. To aid our reflection we will engage in a variety of experiments to tease out the qualities of different communication methods. So, in-class discussion will take many different shapes, and we will try out different technologically-mediated platforms—e.g., anonymous forums, wikis, audio and video posts, social media—to put our philosophy into practice.

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