Our Winter Seminars start tomorrow (first discussion sessions 1/15)! There’s still plenty of time to sign up, but readings are already available and discussion threads will begin on 1/8.

INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING

As you might surmise, this is a course for those who have had no (or have not had in a long time) formal philosophical education. It is a bit different than the typical introductory course. Here, you will find no histories or surveys, no trite clichés about questioning authority, no attempts at “dumbing down” a complex topic to make it “accessible”. Rather, you will find the essential challenge of philosophy itself: learning the habit of conscious reflection on our own conceptions. We will do this through a series of lectures, curated readings, and discussion sessions—with part of the seminar focused on Plato, as a master of the means to philosophical reflection—and a community of like-minded inquirers.

SEMIOTICS: CULTURAL WORLD OF THE SIGN

This is a much more advanced seminar, presuming the participant already has some familiarity with semiotics and possibly with scholastic realism as well. Here, we are asking the question of culture explicitly from the perspective of semiotics: how is culture constituted, mediated, diminished, and otherwise altered by the action of signs? How does culture, conversely, shape the “grammar” of signs by which we ourselves think? These questions are, I think, important especially today, in which we are experiencing a dramatic shift in the constitution of culture as affected by the digital paradigm of daily experience. If we are to change culture for the better, we must understand how we participate in it—and thus we must understand the signs through which culture affects human life, and, conversely, how human beings may affect culture through the use of signs.

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