Review Comment

[PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

January 27, 2005

Berofsky, Bernard
[PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Don't take this class with Berofsky unless you are really into philosophy. He is very methodical and breaks down all the concepts and really drives them into your brain, but you'll need caffeine because he does have a rather....uh....droning style. However, by the time I left this class, I felt that I had achieved a very comprehensive understanding (for an undergrad amateur) of the issues and arguements that are central to the free will debate. Which is what is really most important. And I did not find the readings particularly boring, though I would say following up on some of Berofsky's suggestions for outside reading certainly made the class more interesting. There is really not a whole lot of reading for a philosophy course.

I found him to be quite an easy grader. As far as papers, I would suggest that you see him, at least if you intend to go off the list of suggested subjects. If I had, I probably would've gotten more out of the class and a better grade. Also, I agree with the reveiwer who said that Berofsky (like most other philosophy professors) really wants you to basically show that you understand what some philosopher has said rather than to come up with your own stance. The positions are entrenched and pretty well-defined, so be "creative" at your own risk.

And, yes, the final was a bit much, but he gave us the questions beforehand. If you've been taking good notes, you've done yourself a huge favor come crunch time. If you do all of the above and have taken a couple philosophy courses and/or have something of an ear for philosophy, you'll probably get an A.
I learned to appreciate Berofsky's occasional and VERY DRY wit. Although it is quite true that he seems to have a hard time understanding questions worded in everyday language, his writing is very clear and even entertaining (MUCH more so than his lectures). Although I have some reservations about the inflexibility of his thinking. He ain't the most supple of the lot. Likeable, though.

Workload:

Two 1500 page papers (don't be afraid to go over the limit if something really enthuses you and you've done extra research. Berofsky rewards extra effort put in even if he doesn't completely agree with or understand your arguement - again, see him.) Challenging final that will leave you with writers cramp and a feeling of impending doom, but don't worry too much.

January 03, 2005

Berofsky, Bernard
[PHIL C1010] Methods and Problems of Philosophical Thought and [PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Berofsky is a mediocre player on an all-star philosophy team. He's tolerable, but there is no reason to take a class with him when you can take the same one with an amazing professor, of which the dept has plenty. He's straightforward and intelligent, but very boring, and clearly has long forgotten what it's like to be a student. He will deliver the material to you but doesn't add much that you don't pick up on your own if you do the boring (particularly for Free Will) and dense reading he assigns. Don't waste your time and tuition.

Workload:

Methods: typical classic readings, a couple of papers, midterm and final - grading is what you'd expect for Philosophy 101.
Free Will: plenty of boring reading, two long papers and a ridiculously comprehensive final that will leave you struggling if youhavent taken good notes in every one of his broing lectures,

November 14, 2004

Berofsky, Bernard
[PHIL C1010] Methods and Problems of Philosophical Thought and [PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

To being with, Berofsky is HILARIOUS. The casual way in which he makes hilariously ironic comments was enough to keep classes entertaining.
In terms fo teaching style, Berofsky is admittedly somewhat dry, but he knows his stuff and does his best to make complex texts and concepts acessible to his students. The course structure, esp in Methods&Problems, was very condusive to giving a broad, general understanding the main currents of philosophy, and while doing the reading is necessary, readings were short and concentrated on the main issues at hand-basically, while you will be somewhat lost if you don't do the reading, if you do it, you'll find that Berofsky's lectures provide answers to the very questions/parts of the text that you had found particularly difficult. In the advanced course, the same holds true. Also, in that class, Berofsky always left time during transition points in the lecture for students to ask questions, but beware, he will challenge you, and force you to think.

Overall, I have TRULY enjoyed my classes with Berofsky; my expxerience in methods&problems spurred my decision to major in philosophy and his class on free will has made that topic the focus of my interests in philosophy. I would HIGHLYrecommend him to anyone who has a real desire to understand and as he says "do" a little philosophy of their own. Philosophy classes aren't meant to be easy, but Berofsky succeeds in making his accessible and engaging.

Workload:

M&P: two paper (i think one is 3-5 and the other 5-7, final: he gives you all the potential questions beforehand and chooses from among them. You do get to choose which questions to answer, i think it's like 2/3 for each major topic. definitely do-able.
FW: 2 1200-1500 papers, suggested topics and reading list provided (you are required to use one paper not on the syllabus for each). Final. VERY do-able.

December 18, 2003

Berofsky, Bernard
Senior Seminar and [PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Berofsky's lectures are dull. Berofsky's lectures are dry. Berofsky's lectures are mind-numbing.

Berosfky is a methodical, intelligent philosopher. He has a complete and extensive knowledge of what he is talking about. He answers student questions throroughly, although he has trouble understanding those who speak sloppily.

In all honesty, although I like Professor Berofsky very much on a personal level, I would never in good faith recommend his class to anyone. Granted, have tastes other than mine and somehow fall in "interest" with him. But, with this learned philosopher, very few people who have that sort of chemistry.

Workload:

Seminar : one class presentation, final paper, attend most classes.
Free Will : two large papers, final, attend most classes.

November 03, 2002

Berofsky, Bernard
[PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Let's just say this: While describing the ideas of a certain very prominent and well-known philosopher, Berofsky says, "I disagree, and I told him so when we were playing ping-pong once. He's not that good at ping-pong... I actually won a ping-pong torunament in the Bronx once..." In other words, the class is full of fun, hilarious, interesting anecdotes. I highly recommend it.

Workload:

average. Make sure your papers are well-written (ie. don't write them the night before at 4 AM) and you'll do fine.

March 02, 2002

Berofsky, Bernard
Senior Seminar, [PHIL V3601] Metaphysics, and [PHIL V3786] Free Will and Responsibility

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Berofsky is a fabulous lecturer with a style that flows well. He uses clever examples to illustrate some of the more difficult theories (although some of the examples are from the literature), and moves at a nice pace to cover a lot of material. He always stops every fifteen or so minutes in his lectures to invite questions, so his classes are very open and have the atmosphere of a discussion-based seminar sometimes. However, Berofsky does take attendance and even uses a seating chart to make sure people attend classes. He will count attendance in the final grade. That having been said, I should point out that he is very set in his ways when it comes to term papers. Don't believe what he says in the syllabus that papers should be an original argument! What he really wants you to do is just the opposite. He wants you to reconstruct some argument that some philosopher has made on some interesting topic, usually from the reading list. Believe me on this one--I tried twice, and learned the hard way! Don't make the same mistake I did. It's a good idea to go see him in office hours before you go off to do some research for a paper. he will usually suggest one or two readings--Make sure to include those readings explicitly within your paper, if you want to do well. Be careful, too, about pressing a point too insistently in class--he has the potential of making you look dumb.

Workload:

Two papers. Final. In seminars, one term paper, one presentation paper.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL V3786: Free Will and Responsibility Bernard Berofsky 2004 Fall MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1
PHIL / PHIL PHIL PHIL V3786: Free Will and Responsibility Bernard Berofsky 2002 Fall MW / 4:10- 5:25 PM 1