Could it be that how things “really” or “truly” are is very different from how they appear to us? Can we know that we are living in the “real world” – rather than, say, a computer simulation á la The Matrix? Suppose we claim to know that we’re living in the real world. What could our justification, or evidence, for this belief be? And would it be of any ethical significance to us – would our lives be better or worse, and in what ways and why – if we actually were living in the Matrix?
This course engages questions such as: what is there, and what is its nature? How do we know what there is – to what extent does this knowledge owe to reason, and to what extent the senses? What things, and different kinds of things, do we know, and how far does our knowledge extend? What is truth? And do we seem to care so much about truth – to what extent, if any, should we value it? What are conspiracy theories? To what extent, if any, and why, are they epistemically problematic? Are there special experiences and ways of knowing which derive from race and sex/gender, and if so, what are these? And just what are race, sex, and gender?
This course has three aims: 1) to introduce students to key themes in philosophy – particularly in metaphysics and epistemology – and, in so doing, to show how an apparently abstruse discipline is of surprising relevance to our lives; 2) to provide students with essential tools for understanding the nature of logical reasoning and evaluating arguments; 3) to sharpen students’ abilities to express themselves clearly and cogently, in writing and especially in speaking. The course includes asynchronous work, which students are expected to complete between class sessions
Alex Rigas has an M.Phil. in philosophy from Columbia University. His primary research interests are in 19th- and 20th-century European philosophy, especially Martin Heidegger’s thought. His teaching interests include political, social, and legal philosophy, ethics, and metaphysics and epistemology. He has taught at Columbia University and New York University. Alex believes that philosophy matters to and is for everyone. He works as a tutor and specializes in standardized test preparation and in the humanities and social sciences (secondary and tertiary).
Specific course details such as topics, activities, hours, and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.