Monday, February 26, 2007

Weekly Meetings

Weekly meeting are back on, Tuesday midday onwards. I've been assured that the McMullin Courtyard has recovered from it's encounter with the current administrator's fetish for the cosmetic enhancement of the campus, so we will see how it goes tomorrow. Usually if the weather is inclement, there was a few rooms (either MC110 or the fabled Philosophy Common Room) nearby that we could use, but I haven't checked their availability. Alternatively, we could see how many people I can pack into the shoe box that passes for my research office.

Also, I'm taking suggestions for our set topics. Don't make me talk about what I'm doing for a year, we will all regret it, especially last years members who have heard it all before.

I hope to see some ( or even all, though I don't know what I'd do with 90 or so people at a meeting) of you on Tuesday.

Sam Douglas.

The Mind’s Eye – An Introduction to Philosophy

The Art Gallery of New South Wales will be hosting a course of introductory lectures on the history of western philosophy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

George Molnar

Stephen Mumford, of the University of Nottingham, has established a site on University of Sydney philosopher (and student of John Anderson) George Molnar. Molnar, who died in 1999, was in the process of editing Anderson’s papers and finalising his work Powers A Study in Metaphysics.

As an aside, Oxford University Press has released Powers in paperback.

(Thanks to This is the Name of This Blog.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Article - 'Other Lives'

'It is hard to let go of Pythagoras. He has meant so much to so many for so long. I can with confidence say to readers of this essay: most of what you believe, or think you know, about Pythagoras is fiction, much of it deliberately contrived.'

M.F. Burnyeat has written an intersting article on the life of Pythagoras, for The London Review of Books, reviewing two recent biographies of the mysterious classical figure.

Monday, February 12, 2007

O-Week 2007

As it is O-Week, I thought that it might be worthwhile to scribble down a brief welcome note.

Firstly, welcome to the various new members of the University of Newcastle Philosophy Club. As of Monday there are about sixty of you. (I’d like to apologise to anyone I scared.) Secondly, welcome back to more established members.

Details of the weekly gathering/meeting are still to be finalised. At the moment they are still going to be held on Tuesdays, with a time and location to be announced shortly.

For those of you unfamiliar with Dialectic, it is our on-line forum. Club members are welcome to become contributors – the details on how to do this will be sent out in an email – and to engage in the discussions and debates that take place here.

It has been suggested that the Club convene a Fresher Reading Group. This would probably meet monthly. If members are interested in joining, they should contact us and let us know.

Once again, the Executive would like to state that the Club exists for the interests of the members. If you have a suggestion or comment, all you have to do is let us know.

Martin Hill,
Vice-President (In Exile).

Question On Mateship

Watching the ABC’s Difference of Opinion, I began to think about the concept of ‘mateship’ and how it differs from ‘friendship’.

This led to a question that needs more attention in Australia than it has possibly been given – what is ‘mateship’?

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Undergraduate Philosophy at the University of Newcastle

For the official University of Newcastle philosophy course descriptions, please click on the course code. You will note that not all philosophy courses are available this year. This is due to a combination of issues, so generally they are run on alternate years .
If we had enough people express interest, then the university might be able to run them more often.

If you are an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident and do not currently qualify for entry to university, but want to study philosophy, both Newstep and Open Foundation run excellent introductory Philosophy courses.

PHIL1020 Introduction to Philosophy A 10 units
An introduction to Philosophy through a range of topics from to the Mind-Body problem to Utilitarianism. Content changes almost every year. Not indicative of the structure or depth of more advanced courses.

PHIL1030 Introduction to Philosophy B 10 units
As above. Has previously included Existentialism, Peter Singer on Animal Rights and Darwinism.

PHIL1060 Introduction to Philosophy of Psychology 10 units
An introduction to the philosophical issues arising from the study of psychology.

PHIL3020 Metaphysics 20 units
Does Space have a shape? Do other minds exist? Do I have hands? Is Inductive reasoning of causation reasonable? Survey a highly diverse selection of philosopher’s arguments in one of the most interesting and fundamental branches of philosophy. I enjoyed it in the past, therefore you will enjoy it in the future!

PHIL3030 Reason and Religion 10 units
One of the most popular higher level philosophy courses run by the faculty, content covers most of the major arguments for the existence of God, as well as many of the arguments against this proposition.

PHIL3060 Topics in Ancient, Medieval and Modern Philosophy 10 units (Not available in 2007)
Plato, Aquinas and Nietzsche. A heady and dangerous mix if the proportion of Nietzsche is too high. Spend many happy hours in the Godfrey Tanner bar wondering what it would be like to be a barbarian. In all seriousness a great precursor to any serious study of ‘Continental’ philosophy.

PHIL3070 Scientific Knowledge and Scientific Method 10 units
What is special about Science and why does it work so well? How should we decide between competing theories? Includes work by Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul K Feyerabend.

PHIL3120 Philosophy and Film 10 units (Not available in 2008)
A highly popular course with both Film and Philosophy students.

PHIL3140 Non-European Philosophy 10 units
See how the other half live. Daoism & Lao-Tzu, Confucianism, and ancient chinese cosmology. Dwell on filial piety, ponder the elegant visual poetry of Lao-Tzu, or completely un-do your mind by thinking about what the Dao is like.

PHIL3260 Philosophy of Language 10 units (Not available in 2008)
Covering works from Kripke, Quine, Wittgenstein and many more this course gives a solid introduction to a field that straddles Logic, Philosophy of Mind and the relationship between our words and the world we inhabit.

PHIL3420 Critical Thinking 10 units
Learn to differentiate between Soundness and Validity. Finally figure out what those little diamond and square shapes in books about logic mean. Hone your critical skills in a way that can improve your performance in almost any other discipline if applied properly.

PHIL3430 Introduction to Rationality Theory 10 units (Not available in 2008)
If you are lucky enough and know more about game theory than your opponent, you could win a cash prize from Dr Mintoff!

PHIL3451 Philosophy and the Good Life 20 units (Not available in 2008)
What is ‘the Good’? How will we know it when we see it? What is the role of pleasure in life?

PHIL3460 Philosophy and Human Relationships 10 units
Friendship, Love, Happiness and Politics.

PHIL3580 Ethical Issues 10 units
Both a stimulating and at times confronting look at ethical issues surrounding the profession of Social Work. Even if you are not a Bachelor of Social Work student, this is worth doing if you are interested in issues of social welfare and justice.

PHIL3720 Philosophy of Cognitive Science 10 units (Not available in 2008)
Once run by the now legendary Professor Cliff Hooker, this course may, or may not be back. But I (and others) hope that it will return at some stage.

PHIL3821 Enlightenment and its Discontents 20 units (Not available in 2008)
The Enlightenment, Modernity & its defenders and the people who insisted on pointing out the problems with both. As Mr Hill would say: “Was ist Aufklarung?”

PHIL3850 Power and Subjectivity 20 units (Not available in 2008)
Want to understand Foucault? Well it will take more than this, but it is a good start. Covering a large amount of material from Conolly, Lukes, Marcuse and Foucault, this course looks at the exercise of power and the creations of subjects via everything from discourses on sex to correction by incarceration, ostensibly from a continental perspective.

PHIL3910 Technology and Human Values 10 units
Striking fear into the hearts of engineering students, who will do anything to avoid it as it involves thinking, writing essays and working in groups, this course exists to expose students to normative decision making in an engineering, design and dynamic systems modeling context, through the use of both technological examples and philosophic works.

PHIL3930 Human Values and Commercial Practice 10 units
Should businesses ever be ethical for reasons other than money?
Widely taken by business and management students (who generally miss the point) Looks at issues of normative ethics and meta-ethics from a business and managerial perspective.

There is also an Honours program in Philosophy available through the Bachelor of Arts. This consists of a full-time year (or equivalent) of study roughly split between coursework on selected topics and a written dissertation/thesis on a topic of the students own choosing. Coursework varies from year to year, but has in the past choices have included courses on: Kripke’s Meaning Scepticism, Philosophy of Consciousness, Socrates, David Hume and Aristotelian Virtue Ethics.

Candidates who achieve Honours Class I or Class II Division 1 are eligible for admission to post-graduate research degrees. Alternatively, for those seeking further coursework based study in other fields, successful completion of this Honours year translates to an extremely high score on the Universities Admissions Index (UAI).

A note on ‘units’: A standard course ( aka subject) is 10 units, and a normal full-time load is 40 units per semester.