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Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies
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Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Study Abroad - Egypt

The American University in Cairo

220 Philosophical Thinking (Core curriculum requirement) (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 220
This course uses the discipline of philosophy to develop students' ability to think critically. Critical thinking allows us to enter skillfully into a given point of view, absorb it sympathetically, decipher its connections with other ideas and positions, extract its consequences, and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. This ability is developed through readings, discussions, and writing assignments that seek to enlarge student awareness of crucial matters of human existence, such as justice, obligation, and personal responsibility. Topics will be explored using "eminent texts", texts which have proven more durable than the spirit of any particular age, and which present contrasting perspectives thoughtfully and in depth.

221 Informal Logic (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 220
Informal logic aims to analyze and improve argumentation and reasoning as they occur in everyday life, to identify logical fallacies, and to critically examine common techniques of persuasion. The course examines logically valid forms and rules of inference, introduces deductive and inductive methods in ancient and modern logic, and elaborates the nature of definitions, categories and judgments.

224 Self and Society (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 101 (formerly PHIL 201)
What is self ? What do we mean by 'consciousness' or 'personal identity' ? Is the self a social being, or is it an entity within society that stands apart from it ? Through selected readings drawn from the meeting-points and confrontations between philosophy and fields such as psychology, anthropology and sociology, this course investigates the nature of the self and its place within that plurality of selves we call society.

226 Philosophy of Religion (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 390
Many religions include an intellectual and theoretical component that can be investigated independently of the religion itself. This course examines and clarifies some themes that arise from the rational investigation of the intellectual component of religion. Topics may include: reason and religious belief, proofs of the existence of God, the nature of religious language, the problem of evil, mysticism as a form of knowledge, and theological paradoxes (omnipotence, omniscience and free will, etc.)

230 Introduction of Ethics (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 230
This course introduces moral philosophy, the attempt to provide systematic explanations of standards for human conduct. Can we determine what the right thing is for us to do? How should society set its normative rules? How is a normative discourse possible? Selected texts provide the relevant context in which these questions will be examined.

258 Political Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
What is the justification of state power and legal authority? What is a good political system? How do we relate our judgments about how the political world should be to the way it actually is at present? This course will examine such questions, which will involve a study of the genesis and structure of political entities and the mutual responsibilities of citizen and government.

299 Selected Topic for Core Curriculum (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
Course addressing broad intellectual concerns and accessible to all students, irrespective of major.

310 Philosophy and Art (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
The course introduces the theme of beauty and issues of aesthetic value. Examples are drawn from areas such as literature, music, the plastic arts, and architecture.

312 Ancient Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 301
This course explores some philosophical systems and issues characteristic of the earliest period of philosophy, especially fourth-century BCE Greece. Typical figures discussed might include: Thales, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle; and also later figures from the Stoic, Epicurean and Neo-Platonic traditions. Topics may include: early natural philosophy, the riddle of non-being, theories of intelligible form, the good life theories of knowledge, and the nature of the human soul.

313 Mediaeval Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
This course explores some philosophical systems and issues characteristic of the period commonly called the "Middle Ages", from 500 CE to 1500 CE. Typical figures discussed might include: Augustine, Boethius, al-Farabi, Ibn Sina, Anselm, Maimonides, Ibn Rushd, Aquinas, Al-Ghazali, John Duns Scotus, William Ockham, and Suarez. Topics may include: reason and faith, divine command ethics, truth and meaning, theories of human nature, occasionalism, virtues and the soul, the problem of universals, free will, and illumination and knowledge.

314 Modern Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 302
Philosophical progress played an essential role in the historical changes of the Enlightenment and the movement of industrial society. This course focuses on some of the major schools and figures of Modern thought, which include Rationalists such as Descartes and Leibnitz, Empiricists such as Locke and Hume, and/or pivotal thinkers such as Bacon, Rousseau, Hegel, Kant, and Marx.

316 Contemporary Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
The twentieth century has been marked above all by a focus on issues of language and the constitution of meaning. This course will examine representative thinkers drawn from one or both of the traditions of analytic and continental philosophy.

318 Theory of Knowledge (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL3 10
What is the nature of knowledge? How can we know? How is science possible? Is knowledge innate or acquired? These are some of the questions that are examined in the context of selected classical as well as contemporary texts.

319 Development and Responsibility (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
Western Civilization has gone to great lengths to 'develop' the 'underdeveloped world'. This course is a critical review of practices and goals of international development. By concentrating on ethical considerations within the various relevant fields, such as business, engineering and environmental protection, the students explore the mutual responsibilities in this cooperative enterprise.

330 Advanced Ethics (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 315
This course will explore the theoretical underpinnings of ethical judgments and behavior. It will involve a more complex set of reading than the Introduction to Ethics and apply ethical theories to particular issues.

344 Literature and Philosophy: Selected Topics (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
The course concentrates on the intersection of the literary mode with the philosophical quest in Eastern and Western writing. Students are trained to analyze philosophical myths, tales, poems and dialogues as well as grasp the symbolic structures and expository techniques of philosophers.

354 Islamic Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350 or RELG 350
A survey of the rational and spiritual dimensions of Arab-Islamic civilization as shown in the thought and ideas of major theologians, philosophers, and mystics.

356 American Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 305
The course examines philosophy in North America, focusing on the central themes of democracy and pragmatism. A guiding question of the course will be: How is the democratic process embedded in the philosophic enterprise? The views of major thinkers such as Peirce, James, Royce, Santayana, Dewey, Quine, and Hartshorne will be examined.

360 Philosophy of Language and Communication (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
Language is the basis of learning, understanding and communication. Therefore, a detailed study of language (oral, physical and written) is necessary for any true understanding of self and society. This course investigates such topics as the nature of sign systems, the problems of meaning, reference, sense and interpretation, the place of rhetoric and the methods of communicative practice.

362 Formal and Mathematical Logic (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
This course is an introduction to the ideas and methods of mathematical logic. The basis of predicate calculus (first order logic) will be presented in some details. More advanced topics such as Goedel's completeness and incompleteness theorems, some of the philosophico-mathematical problems in set theory and alternative logics will be discussed.

382 Philosophy of Science and Technology (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
The relationship between science and technology has become a serious topic of debate. Is technology applied science or is science itself techno-science? Both have become pervasive facts which have altered human abilities and experiences of the world. This increase in power brings with it new responsibilities for the creators and users of science and technology. This course will explore these new powers and attendant obligations upon humanity, other cultures and the environment.

402 Metaphysics (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 312
This course deals with questions as to the ultimate reality of the world: Why is there something rather than nothing? Profound metaphysical questions posed by ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophers will be discussed. Issues may include Aristotle’s Being qua Being, Leibniz’ principle of sufficient reason, and Heidegger’s analysis of Being.

403 Selected Topics in Philosophy (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350

418 Philosophical Masterpieces (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
This course will be an in-depth study of a single great work of philosophy and its place in the history of ideas.

420 Philosophical Figures (3 cr.) ≈ PHIL 350
This course is an in-depth study of one great philosophical figure. It is an opportunity to explore the philosophy of the thinker as a whole concentrating on his/her place in the history of ideas and in history itself.

For religious studies, the university offers extensive coursework on Islam under its Arabic Studies major. These include, among others:

ARBS320 Introduction to Sufism (3 cr.) ≈ RELG 350
An introduction to mysticism in its Islamic context: a survey of the historical development of tasawwuf, the main trends in Sufi thought and practice, the role played by Sufis and Sufi brotherhoods in society and the Sufi contributions to Middle Eastern culture.

ARBS335 An Introduction to Islam (3 cr.) ≈ RELG 350
A survey of Islam and its history from the formative period to its manifestations in modern times, with a discussion of sectarian movements such as Kharijism, Shi'ism and Sunnism, various schools of thought in law, theology, philosophy and mysticism, as well as modern interpretations of Islam, especially with regard to political, social and gender issues.

ARBS337 Shi'i Muslims in History (3 cr.) ≈ RELG 350
This course focuses on the historical roles of Shi'i Muslims from the seventh century to the present. The aim of the course is to familiarize the student with the major Shi'i discourses as they evolved in specific historical contexts. This course will also examine how shi'i notions of authority and piety have inspired political and cultural structures different geographical and historical settings. In dealing with the modern period, he course will examine how Shi'i ideological and political history has affected the current political and social situation of the Middle East. While emphasis will be on the historical development of Twelver Shi'ism, other important groups such as the Ismai'liyya and the Zaydiyya will also receive due consideration.

ARBS354 Islamic Philosophy (3cr.) ≈ RELG 350 or PHIL 350
A survey of the rational and spiritual dimension of the Arab-Islamic civilization as shown in the thought and ideas of major theologians, philosophers, and mystics.

ARBS435 Studies in the Qur’an (3 cr.) ≈ RELG 350
The greatest work in Arabic and its influence on Arabic literature and Islamic institutions, with emphasis on methods of interpretation and their development.

ARBS454 Modern Movements in Islam (3 cr.) ≈ RELG 350
The course examines major religious, political, and intellectual trends, from liberalism and nationalism to various forms of Islamism. The emphasis is on movements in the Ottoman and Arab worlds, including North Africa, and in India and Iran, from the nineteenth century to the present day, though other periods and areas may be considered. The course traces the origins and follows the consequences of thesetrends and movements, and examines how they relate to each other.

And the university offers this course in its Egyptology program:

EGPT 440 Ancient Egyptian Religion and Ethics ≈ RELG 350
The course will examine in detail the beliefs and religious institutions of the Ancient Egyptians. Special attention will be devoted to official and popular religions, and to their manifestation in architecture as well as in the literature of Ancient Egypt.