Spring 2019

The Calderwood Seminar in Public Writing: Philosophy in Public Life?

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-468


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


Plato famously argued that only philosophers should rule and that only a few, very exceptional intellects would qualify to be philosophers.

In this course, we will reflect on the role of philosophy in public life. Who, if anyone, would benefit—a few, many, or the majority—from being exposed to philosophy? We will then consider the value of blogs, Amherst’s own AskPhilosophers, articles in national and local newspapers and magazines, book reviews, biographical and philosophical profiles of philosophers (both historical and contemporary), pop-up philosophy workshops/dramas at the college or in the community, and any other strategies that might provide a compelling education in philosophy to an appropriate public audience. By the end of semester, each student will have completed at least six different public philosophical writing projects. Class sessions will be conducted as workshops devoted to analyzing and critiquing our public philosophical writing.

This seminar is designed as a capstone course for senior majors in PHIL. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Gentzler.

If Overenrolled: Senior Majors and those with an extensive education in Philosophy


Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019