Philosophy and Social Science That Will Work for You

Fall 2017 quarter

Taught by

writing, research, and information systems

The philosopher’s school is a physician’s consulting room.
You must leave it in pain, not in pleasure.


Western philosophy began as a practical discipline.  It offered answers to important human questions: How to live a good life? How to die well? How to navigate our troubled existence? What is “human flourishing”?  Alain de Botton is a contemporary philosopher who thinks the “big questions” to which philosophy was originally devoted—“What is the meaning of life? What should I do with my work? Where are we going as a society? What is love? How should I think about sex? Money? Status? Why is a long-term relationship never what you thought it would be?”—should be resurrected. Answers to those questions should be pursued through the study of philosophy—western and eastern—and through practices—personal and social—informed by the social sciences, psychology, sociology, history, architecture, and so on.  Our curriculum is grounded in de Botton’s work: Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, The Course of Love: A Novel, The News: A User’s Manual, The Art of Travel, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, How to Think More about Sex, Status Anxiety, The Consolations of Philosophy, How Proust Can Change Your Life, probably more. Here’s a tiny sample: writing of the 16th c. philosopher-essayist Michel de Montaigne, de Botton says, “In Montaigne’s scheme of intelligence, what matters in a book is usefulness and appropriateness to life…  The responsibility of authors in the humanities is not to quasi-scientific accuracy, but to happiness and health.”

Everyone willing to enjoy reading widely, deeply and seriously into “the answers to life’s persistent questions” (with thanks to Garrison Keilor’s “Guy Noir”) is welcome.

Program Details

Fields of Study

philosophy sociology


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Tuesday, September 26 at 12pm (Sem II B1105).

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


2017-03-31Sara Huntington joins the teaching team.
2016-12-21New fall opportunity added.