Rice Unconventional Wisdom

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FAQs about philosophy courses and the philosophy major

Q: I'm interested in philosophy. What course should I take first?

Philosophy is a broad subject, and this is reflected in the range of introductory courses that we offer. You should feel free to take any 100- to 200-level course. Some are oriented around the history of philosophy, others around particular philosophical topics and theories as they are seen by contemporary philosophers.

Q: Can I take a 300-level course first?

That depends on the course. You should consult the instructor.

Q: I've had one introductory-level course. Does it matter what I take next?

Usually no. But philosophy majors should try to take logic (either 106 or 305), and the history sequence (201 & 202) early on, since these provide useful background for many other courses.

Q: If I am going to major in philosophy, do I need to take the history of philosophy courses in any particular order?

Though 201 and 202 are self-contained introductions to different periods in the history of philosophy, it's recommended that you take them in sequence (201 first, 202 second). Also, normally you should take 201 before advancing to 301, and 202 before advancing to 302, 308, or 321.

Q: Should I take 106 (Logic) or 305 (Mathematical Logic)?

If you have high math ability you may want to take 305, which is entirely self-contained but rather fast. It covers everything in 106 and a lot more. If you are less confident you should probably take 106; you can take 305 later if you like. If you are going to grad school, then 305 is advisable. If you are uncertain, consult the instructor of either course.

Q: Can undergraduates take graduate seminars?

Yes. Undergraduates with a strong background in philosophy may take a graduate seminar with the permission of the instructor.