Philosophy begins with wonder and leads us to ask serious questions about ourselves, the world, and the universe in a rational and systematic manner; it is this ability to think and wonder which distinguishes us from other animals. Philosophy, which literally means the love of wisdom, is the quest or search for answers to the ultimate questions about life and death. What am I? Why am I here? Does life have a meaning or purpose? What is the good life? Does God exist? Are my actions truly free if God knows what will happen beforehand, or if all of nature is determined by physical laws?
Can God's existence be rationally demonstrated or is the postulate of God simply the result of human instinctual drives for truth and mastery? If God is perfect and human beings are good, then why is there so much suffering and evil in the world? Is it possible to live a good and just life or does might make right? Is a just society possible? In this course we will critically examine these and other fundamental questions of philosophy by focusing on some of the major thinkers and theorists in the history of philosophy and ideas. We will begin with Socrates? search for wisdom and self-knowledge. After this we will consider the Medieval philosopher Boethius and the possibility of human free will in light of God's foreknowledge of all events (his omniscience). Next we will discuss Descartes, who is often regarded as the father of modern philosophy, and his arguments for the existence of the self and God based on reason alone. We will then examine Nietzsche's wide-ranging critique of traditional philosophy, religion and morality. We will end the course by looking at Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy of ethics and his argument that even if we can argue our way out of metaphysics and religion we still must live with inescapable ethical demands.