Favorite Classes at UVA

April 05, 2017

Haven’t decided what to major in at UVA? Not sure what classes to take? Here are the top 3 favorite classes at UVA from a current Cavalier!

1. Nietzsche

We read the major works of this German philosopher, and delved into his ideas about morality, ethics, and existence. Nietzsche is often perceived as a sort of gloomy nihilist who denies that anything matters, but he actually turns out to be one of the strongest advocates of life that I’ve come across in my readings. He focuses on the importance of passion and the strength needed to express oneself. He offers a fresh (and controversial) perspective on morality, which creates room for much interesting discussion. The passion, the hints of madness, and the unrelenting boldness that Nietzsche expresses through his writings make him one of my favorite philosophers.

2. Philosophy of Science

This class was probably the most difficult class I’ve taken so far, but it encapsulates the essence of what it means to learn philosophy:  it challenged some of my most strongly held presuppositions, and forced me to think about old ideas in fresh ways. Here, you will get a chance to learn about some of the central issues that keep philosophers of science up at night and read from some of the most brilliant minds that have thought deeply about what it means to engage in science. The question is not as easy to answer as it might seem. My favorite topic was on quantum mechanics, and how our current understanding of it suggests that certain aspects of the world are inherently indeterministic. And if this is true, does that mean we have free will? Fascinating questions, in my opinion.

3. Philosophy of Religion

This class will take you in an in-depth exploration of one of the oldest metaphysical questions known to man: does God exist? It covers topics such as the problem of evil and Pascal’s wager, and helps you to evaluate the arguments for or against God. This class sharpened my ability to critically evaluate arguments, a skill that everyone should have. Whether God exists is a question of undeniable importance, and when you’re thinking about topics such as these, it’s hard not to think critically about things. One of my favorite lectures was when we discussed the omnipotence paradox, which questions whether God can create a stone that he cannot lift. The paradox seems to call into question the idea of God’s infinite power, and it was interesting to see how various philosophers have responded to this issue.

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