First Semester is Done!

Well, my first semester as a Ph. D. student is done and although I am excited that I’m back in academia as a student, I’m also relieved that it’s over.  I’m not sure how to take this first semester, so I’ll just give a brief overview of my classes and see how this reflects the semester overall.


My Plato class was great.  I really appreciated what Plato did for philosophy and my respect for him was greater after the semester.  We read the easy stuff (Euthyphro, Meno) but slowly, it advanced to materials that I could not follow.  The hardest dialogue from Plato I’ve read before this class was the Symposium.  But we trenched through the difficulties of Theaetetus, Sophist, and Philebus.  I eventually wrote my final paper on Theaetetus which was no easy feat, but still fun to write.  I was completely lost at the Philebus and the Sophist was very abstract.  We did read the Republic and the Gorgias which have increasingly become my favorite dialogues.

Overall, I have a hard time reading the dialogues as philosophical works.  I see them as dramatizations which makes it more difficult to get to the philosophical meat of the text.  Thus, most of my papers were character analysis work or delving into the myths of Plato instead of looking at the actual arguments.  Plato, however, is not meant to be read just once and someday, I’ll read these works again to get a deeper meaning of Plato.

Political Philosophy

This class was challenging because I’ve never taken any political philosophy before.  I’ve known the standards such as Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Rawls, and Nozick.  But then we get to materials that deals oppression.  People like Lewis Gordon, Iris Young, and Sonia Kruks.  They were extreme eye openers.  I think the biggest thing that really saw the social contract theory in a new light is critical race theory.  I’ve heard of it before, but I’ve never actually studied it until this class.  It was great!  I eventually did my final paper comparing liberalism with Simone de Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity.  I think I bit off more than I could chew because liberalism is such a vast umbrella.  I should’ve stayed within the Lockean view of liberalism and my paper could’ve been better.

Philosophy of Religion

I’ve taken many religion classes before as an undergrad, and I’ve taught it before as well.  So this class didn’t really bring anything new to the table–except maybe a few articles–but it did delve deeper into the arguments in a very analytic way.  I wrote my papers in a rigorous way where propositions followed an argumentative style in order to make the paper flow with the rest of the theme of the class.  Eventually, my final paper was a critique of Hare’s concepts of bliks as his response to Flew’s falsification of religion.

So this semester has had a great challenge.  I’m glad to have started, and I’m also teaching next semester.  Thus, I’ll be spending most of my break prepping for next semester.  Such is the life of the philosopher.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
This entry was posted in Grad School, Plato, Politics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

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