PHIL 6000: Sesquicentennial of Origin of Species

Course Description: In 2009, we celebrate the bicentennial of Darwin’s birth (February 12) and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species (November 24).  This year portends tremendous amount of discussion regarding his life and works, and is therefore a brilliant opportunity to conduct a thoroughgoing discussion therein.  Despite his renown, Darwin remains, at least popularly, far less read than he should be.  Much of public thought ascribes to him views or certainty that he lacked, and his popularity obscures some of his failings (e.g., his theory of heredity); nevertheless, Darwin’s central ideas remain among the greatest successes in intellectual history.  In this seminar, we embark on a sustained investigation of his most influential work, On the Origin of Species.  We will read the text in its entirety, along with the reactions of Darwin’s most pointed critics and contemporary scholarship.

Course Syllabus (Fall 2009)