PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Winter 2016, Section 002 - Life, the Universe, and Everything
Instruction Mode: Section 002 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
See additional student enrollment and course instructor information to guide you in your decision making.


Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Enrollment restricted to first-year students, including those with sophomore standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


Why is there anything at all rather than nothing at all? Why is there anything intelligent enough to ask such a question? Why is there anything alive? Is it just a coincidence that there is something (or something intelligent, or something alive)? Could each thing be explained by something else in an endless backwards chain, or in some kind of circle? Is there anything special about how things are, that might explain it, such as being the best, or most beautiful, or most complex of all possible ways things could be (or the worst, or ugliest, or simplest, or most balanced)? Or maybe at the other extreme there's nothing special about how things are around us, not even existence—could multiple or even all possible 'universes' run in parallel? Would it have been impossible for there to be nothing? If there must be something, must it include intelligence—like a deity? Or must it at least be powerful enough to explain intelligent life?

These are all questions in cosmology, the study of the cosmos as a whole, a part of the science of physics and of the branch of philosophy called metaphysics. Many scientists and philosophers consider these questions impossible to answer well, so few try, and this work has not yet grown overly technical and convoluted. That provides a real and rare opportunity for students to master the available literature in a term, without having it be watered-down or cherry-picked. We'll learn enough about metaphysics and physics to have a shot at answering these questions best. You may even find room to make a contribution at the cutting edge (optional!).

Course Requirements:

No data submitted

Intended Audience:

1st year students only

Class Format:

seminar style: lecture with lots of discussion


PHIL 196 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 11:30AM - 1:00PM
002 (SEM)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM

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