Science and Self-Knowledge

In class this year, I will be exploring the relationship between science and self-knowledge. If anything suggests that science has a horizon, that what science can make and do is somewhere limited, it is the human self. Formed as we are by particular circumstances irretrievably lost to time, we seem fated, tragically, never to know who we are. Yet, if we could reduce human nature to such formulae as we find in physics, would we not cease to be surprising and remarkable—would we still be interesting, worthy of study? Would we even be recognizably human, and would not this loss of humanity be the real tragedy? On the contrary, it seems that what makes you you refuses to bend to mathematics and method but rather stands alone, irreducibly itself. I’ll be exploring these questions using works by Foucault, Plato, Descartes, Freud, and Woody Allen.

Past Courses Taught


  1. “Plato”
  2. “The Birth of Philosophy in the Ancient World”
  3. “Justice
  4. “Ethics and Society”
  5. “Introduction to Philosophy”


  1. “Rousseau’s Political Thought”
  2. “Nietzsche and 20th Century Thought”
  3. “Herodotus’ Histories”
  4. “Dreams and the Philosophy of the Unconscious
  5. “Philosophy and Film” (twice)
  6. “Ethics and Society” (twice)
  7. “Business Ethics” (twice)


  1. “Plato’s Shorter Dialogues I”
  2. “Plato’s Shorter Dialogues II”
  3. “Plato’s Shorter Dialogues III”
  4. “History of Ancient Philosophy: Honors”
  5. “Introduction to Philosophy” (three sections)
  6. “Ancient Philosophy”
  7. “Greek Mythology through Hesiod”


  1. “Sophocles’ Theban Plays I: Oedipus Tyrannus
  2. “Sophocles’ Theban Plays II: Oedipus at Colonus
  3. “Sophocles’ Theban Plays III: Antigone
  4. “The Problem of Socrates I: Philosopher or Sophist?”
  5. “The Problem of Socrates II: Philosopher or Statesman?”
  6. “Ethics and Society”


  1. “The Discovery of Being in Pre-Socratic Philosophy”
  2. “The Recovery of Being in Nietzsche and Heidegger”
  3. “What is Virtue? An Introduction to Philosophy” (Year long)


  1. “Special Topic: Film and Philosophy”
  2. “Special Topic: Origins of Western Philosophy”
  3. “Introduction to Philosophy”
  4. “20th Century Philosophy”


  1. “Plato” (including an honors version)
  2. “History of Ancient Philosophy”


  1. “Introduction to Philosophy” (two sections)

2008-’09 (teaching assistant)

  1. “Contemporary European Philosophy”
  2. “Elementary Symbolic Logic”

Projects Guided

  1. Alienation in Psychology and Philosophy (including Freud, Foucault, Marx, and Nietzsche)
  2. Aristophanes’ Birds
  3. Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z
  4. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (selections)
  5. Aristotle’s On Poetics and Alexander Scriabin’s piano works (selections)
  6. Aristotle’s On Poetics (twice)
  7. Aristotle and Bacon on causality
  8. Bacon’s New Organon (selections)
  9. The Book of Judges
  10. Buster Keaton’s Sherlock Jr. and College
  11. Critiques of Metaphysics (Wittgenstein and Nietzsche)
  12. Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy
  13. Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry (Euclid’s Elements I, Lobachevsky’s Geometrical Investigations on the Theory of Parallels, Khayyam on Euclid’s fifth postulate, and Einstein’s Relativity: The General and Special Theory [selections])
  14. Foucault’s History of Sexuality (selections)
  15. Heidegger’s Being and Time, sections on temporality
  16. Heidegger (and Fink) on Heraclitus
  17. Hesiod’s Theogony
  18. Homer’s Iliad
  19. Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgment
  20. Locke and Arendt on Violence and Politics
  21. Marx’ Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844
  22. Memory and thought (various readings)
  23. Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy (three times)
  24. Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality (twice)
  25. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, “Prologue,” and Nicholas Ray’s Bigger than Life
  26. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey
  27. Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra (twice)
  28. Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols (twice)
  29. Nietzsche on liberal democracy
  30. Nietzsche on strong vs. weak types
  31. Nietzsche and Freud (twice)
  32. Plato’s Apology of Socrates and Meno
  33. Plato’s Euthyphro
  34. Plato’s TheagesMeno, and Apology of Socrates
  35. Plato’s Hippias Major and Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  36. Plato’s Hippias Major
  37. Plato’s Parmenides
  38. Plato’s Statesman
  39. Plato’s Symposium (twice)
  40. Rousseau’s Of the Social Contract (twice)
  41. Rousseau’s Reveries of a Solitary Walker
  42. Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments
  43. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and The Book of Exodus (with selections from Rousseau)
  44. Wittgenstein’s Blue Book (twice)
  45. Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations
  46. Woody Allen on love and mortality