Session 1

author: Irving Singer, Center for Future Civic Media, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
recorded by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: Jan. 4, 2011,   recorded: September 2004,   views: 325
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike (CC-BY-NC-SA)

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  • Prof. Singer introduces himself and format of class meetings.
  • Singer discusses his new essay on same-sex marriage, included in a new version of his book, Sex: A Philosophical Primer.
  • Singer outlines a philosophy of pluralism.
  • Singer describes himself as a disciple of Socrates, for whom the most important question was how to live: how to live a good life, how to live with other people.
  • Singer defines philosophy as a conceptual art form, with 2 ingredients: a philosopher must be highly trained in logic, and a Ph.D. is certification of this; also philosophy must be in conversation with the fine arts and humanistic subjects, to address Socratic issues of how to live.
  • Singer instructs students to fill out information cards; students then introduce themselves and discuss their academic interests.
  • Singer makes the point that in the last 20 years, more than ever before in America, so much of music, literature, advertising, and other areas of culture appeals to some aspect of our sexual interest.
  • An important attitude in philosophy, Singer says, is to realize how little you know, and how important the process of investigation is.
  • Singer reviews the course reading list and requirements.
  • Singer discusses his views on homosexuality and his decision to write an essay on same-sex marriage.
  • Discussion of the next assigned reading, Singer's The Pursuit of Love.
  • Continuing overview of the syllabus, including myths of Tristan und Isolde and Don Juan.
  • Singer articulates his definitions of love and sex.

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