Here you can learn more about the courses I have taught, the courses I am developing, and what my students have had to say about their experiences in my courses.
(taught at Rutgers Spr18, F17, F16 as "Introduction to Classical Greek Philosophy")
We will examine the origins of Western philosophical thought in the writings of the Presocratics, Plato, and Aristotle during the 6th-4thcenturies BCE. It was during this period that philosophia (“love of wisdom”) emerged from mythologizing as a new enterprise in the human effort to understand the cosmos and our place in it. In addition to tracing the development of philosophy as a cultural enterprise, we will pay special attention to these philosophers’ original and perennially influential theories in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy. In particular, we will discuss these thinkers’ views about the ultimate constituents of reality, what human beings are, the nature of scientific inquiry and expert knowledge, and the place of virtue, justice, and friendship in a good human life and a thriving political community.
"This was the defining class that helped my pick an area for my minor. I was debating what I wanted to do, but the topics mixed with how it was taught has made me want to pursue a further education in philosophy (preferably some classes with the same professor)’"
"Incredible teacher with a lot of enthusiasm for what he is teaching. The class was focused on taking the time to learn new and interesting things rather than just memorizing concepts for exams.
The course will serve as an introduction to the subfield of philosophy known as “metaphysics.” We will focus on four topics central to both the history of metaphysics and contemporary metaphysics: (1) the nature and reality of time and change; (2) the ultimate source of all beings; (3) the relationship between our minds and our bodies; and (4) the nature and reality of human free will and moral responsibility. While occasionally reading from some historical texts, students will primarily grapple with contemporary texts which clearly introduce the fundamental questions at issue and characterize, in a historically-informed way, the current state of play in contemporary discussions of these topics.
"This teacher was absolutely amazing! I really enjoyed his course. I would not suggest any changes. Everything was very fair and straightforward."
"Chris is an excellent teacher. He is excited to teach and wants his students to excel. I hope to take another course with him before I graduate."
This course will focus on four topics central both in the history of the philosophy of religion and in contemporary philosophy of religion: (1) arguments for the existence of God; (2) the debate concerning whether theistic (including Christian) belief is in concord or conflict with contemporary science; (3) the problem of evil; and (4) the debate over religious pluralism vs. religious exclusivism. Students will wrestle with both classic texts from the history of philosophy and the work of contemporary philosophers, including two of the most prominent philosophers of religion of the 20th century: Richard Swinburne and Alvin Plantinga.
"The material was very engaging. There wasn't one topic that I wasn't able to make a comment about. The course was also very student oriented. Instead of droning lectures, we would sit and just talk about ideas, sometimes for the whole time, and I appreciate that more than just being talked at."
The aim of this course is to awaken in students an appreciation of the nature and method of philosophical inquiry through an examination of key texts that grapple with central questions in the history of philosophy. The course will focus on three topics in particular: (1) arguments for and against belief in the existence of God; (2) debates about the existence and nature of human free will and moral responsibility; and (3) philosophical accounts of the mind and our place in the natural world. Students will wrestle with both classic texts from the history of philosophy and the work of contemporary philosophers. Along the way, students will encounter readings which prompt them to think rigorously about how the results of contemporary science (including cosmology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology) bear on these topics.
"Dr Hauser was an excellent professor who was very passionate about philosophy. He was always great to seek help from and was always open to explain concepts during office hours."
"This course was awesome."
"If anyone needs to take a Philosophy class that is engaging, fun, and interesting, I highly recommend Dr. Hauser."
We will examine the profound impact the rediscovery of Aristotle had on the intellectual culture of the High Middle Ages. During this period, there was a complex but constant interplay between theological and philosophical thinking in which Jewish, Muslim, and Christian thinkers rejected, accepted, or revised the philosophical ideas of Aristotle in their attempt to devise a unified theistic worldview. We will focus on three thinkers in particular – Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William Ockham – and explore the ways in which they developed Aristotle’s philosophical ideas to explain and defend their distinctive views about the place of human beings and God in relation to the rest of the universe.
"Excellent course with a well-read instructor"
"This course had difficult material that took a lot of time to understand, but it was worth it"
"The way in which it forced students in the course to interact really helped us learn rather than just memorize"
Are there rational grounds for believing in the existence of God? Is the existence of a morally perfect, perfectly knowledgeable, and all-powerful God compatible with the existence of widespread suffering and injustice? Has modern science shown that we are not free? If not, what is the nature of our freedom? Should we even care about whether or not we’re free? What is the nature of the mind? Can the rich and vivid reality of our thoughts and experiences really be explained by facts about the physical components of our brains? What is the difference between knowledge and mere true belief? Do we sense the external world directly, or do we merely know how things appear to us, not how they really are? How can we know that the future will be like the past? Are there objective facts about what is right and wrong, or is morality merely conventional? What does it even mean to say that an act is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? How should we decide how to live? Can our spending money on luxuries (e.g., going to the opera, buying a new suit, etc.) be morally justified, or do we act immorally when we spend money on a luxury rather than giving it to charity? Do we act wrongly when we buy meat which was produced by inflicting serious pain on animals? Can our practice of abortion be morally justified, or is abortion immoral?
This course invites students to consider some central philosophical questions and to formulate and defend their own answers to these questions in relation to the influential answers and arguments of other philosophers. At the same time, this course introduces students to the craft of philosophy and, more generally, effective argumentation. We'll talk about how to pose philosophical questions, how to make distinctions and formulate nuanced positions, how to find flaws in an argument, and how to construct an argument. In doing so, the course aims to sharpen students’ critical thinking and writing skills, enabling them to think and communicate with greater clarity, precision, and rigor.
"Christopher Hauser was an amazing instructor. He always thoroughly answered any questions student had in a clear and interesting way. He constantly kept the class interested in the material and provided effective constructive criticism for all our assignments."
"Mr. Hauser has been one of the crucial factors influencing me to go on to major in philosophy. He has treated every question I have answered with utmost respect, even though I am but a freshman undergraduate student; I surely do not have enough formal education in philosophy, but that didn't hinder Mr. Hauser from pointing me to more advanced philosophical arguments and urging me to tackle the harder questions."
"He was really kind and helpful. He seemed to genuinely care about students. He was very willing to help in emails, essay comments, office hours, and recitation."
"Best TA I have ever meet in Rutgers"