I see teaching as a foundational element of my work as a philosopher. It was in lively seminars as an undergraduate that I first fell in love with philosophy. I recreate such classrooms for my students: inclusive learning environments, in which philosophical texts and questions become authentically meaningful for students.
Further thoughts on pedagogy and on creating a diverse and inclusive classroom are available upon request (rhanlon11 [at] uchicago [.] edu).
As Sole Instructor (Syllabi Available upon Request)
An Introduction to Philosophy Through Film (Spring 2022)
Film has been and is perhaps our central artistic medium, influencing and reflecting the values of our time, while also exploring perennial aspects of the human condition. Movies then present powerful avenues through which to engage with our deepest and most enduring philosophical questions. This course serves as a general introduction to philosophy, using films to explore the practice of thinking philosophically, as well as the broad range of questions and themes with which philosophers have concerned themselves for over 3,000 years, such as: How can we be free if we are subject to the laws of nature? How can we know or perceive anything with certainty? What is a just political community? Can we ever determine the right answer to ethical dilemmas? To explore these questions, we will discuss a wide selection of films, from The Third Man to Office Space to Blade Runner; we will examine how philosophers themselves have engaged directly with those films; and we will study philosophical texts, both historical and contemporary, that address questions raised by those films.
Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind (Winter 2022)
What is a mind? How does the mind relate to one’s brain and body? In what sense can nonhuman animals or computers think? How does our subjective experience relate to the objective world? Versions of these questions have been the focus of reflections on the mind since the beginning of philosophy, which have been grouped under the banner of ‘philosophy of mind’. In this class we will examine central questions in the philosophy of mind, looking to theories that contemporary philosophers have given about the nature of the mind, and their relationship to the increasingly detailed accounts of the natural world that physical and biological sciences provide. Key topics to be investigated are the mind-body problem, as well as its implications for our understanding of consciousness, intentionality, mental content, and personal identity.
Ancient Greek and Roman Conceptions of Soul (Winter 2022)
This course traces a central thread in ancient Greek and Roman thought—the nature of the soul (psuchê). Standing far from what we now associate with the word ‘soul,’ psuchê was treated as the distinguishing mark of life, and the subject of activities like perceiving, feeling emotions, and thinking. Yet the notion also went through radical transformations: from the soul’s mythical beginnings in the Homeric epics, to its immortalization in the Platonic dialogues, to its scientific treatment in Aristotelian biology, to its materialist character in Stoic and Epicurean philosophy. These changes reflected evolving answers to a variety of fundamental questions, such as: what is the relation of soul to body? What is the nature of human reason and thought? Do nonhuman organisms have souls? Is the soul immortal? We will explore these changes, seeing how they were symptomatic of diverging explanations of the natural world, life, the gods, the human good, and immortality. We will also explore how these conceptions foreshadow or depart from contemporary theories of mind, life, and personal identity.
Human Being and Citizen (Fall 2021)
A Core course that explores the ways that Ancient Greek and Abrahamic texts conceive of, express ideals about, and articulate tensions in conceptions and practices of justice, human and divine law, and emotion. Texts include Homer’s Iliad, the book of Genesis, Plato’s Apology, Symposium Laches, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
Philosophy goes to the Movies: Film and the Meaning of Life
A seminar for the University of Chicago’s Collegiate Scholars Program, introducing high-achieving students from Chicago public schools to central topics in philosophy through popular films (such as Blade Runner and Arrival).
Aristotle’s On the Soul (University of Chicago, Spring 2020)
A small, upper-level undergraduate discussion-based seminar of my own design, focused on a detailed reading of De Anima and the major controversies of 20th scholarship on the text.
As Teaching Assistant
History of Philosophy 1: Ancient Greek Philosophy (University of Chicago, Fall 2019)
A survey of ancient Greek philosophy, focusing centrally on Plato and Aristotle.
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (University of Chicago, Fall 2019)
A detailed reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, with special attention to the apparent tension with Aristotle’s thinking between the political and contemplative lives as ethical ideals
Ancient Greek Aesthetics (University of Chicago, Winter 2018)
A survey of ancient Greek conceptions of beauty and its ethical force, focusing centrally on the aesthetic theories of Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus.