This was an overwhelming class. The course material is very difficult to understand and the readings were confusing [since it's Hegel]. The class period is spent with 75 minutes straight of detailed lecture and you really don't have time to look up and figure out what he is saying, you just have to scribble down as much as you can and then go back after and try and make sense of it. I was shocked at how many graduate students were in this course, and I think that's why it was at such a high level. Definitely not an easy course, and I'd stay away from it unless you are passionate about the subject and willing to put in a serious workload. Neuhouser is a great guy though, he learned everyone's name immediately and is friendly.
Taylor Carman is a wonder-worker, one of the most captivating lecturers that I have encountered in my Columbia career. Essentially, he understands complex philosophical texts so well (we're talking Hegel, Kant, and Heidegger here - I'm pretty sure that he's fluent in German) and explains them so beautifully -- and comprehensibly -- that his courses almost negate the need to read the primary source being discussed. This man is, I repeat, a genious, and his cult following has been flourishing as of late. Also, a really nice and approachable guy at office hours.
To echo the previous review, Carmen does have a little bit of a loose hand when it comes to student input. I normally wouldn't fault a professor on this point, but in a hundred person lecture it can be quite painful to watch the personal agendas of a few other students be played out. Otherwise, he is clear and insightful, the two most valuable characteristics of a good philosophy professor. His grading is not as harsh as some make it out to be (Philosophy is not walk in the park, kids). And the subject matter won't have you hitting your head against the wall in hopeless confusion and existential anxiety.
Prof. Carman is a realy great lecturer for all the reasons that other reviewers have said. I have one caveat to that however, sometimes he allows too much strudent discussion, he tries to suppress the really bad points, but has too much personal niceness and philosophical respect to do so as ruthlessly as some points deserve. Also, to everyone who complained about his grading: he isn't unfair, he just doesn't inflate grades. More importantly, he wonn't just write something like "B-, poor presentation, developed your least interesting ideas most." (Which were his criticisms of my first paper.) He will write two pages of notes on your paper that will allow you to substantially improve on your second and third papers, IF you really consider his criticisms and take them to heart. Also, for majors, the improvements in philosophical prose he will force you to make will wind up helping your GPA more than his demanding standards will hurt it.
Wow. Whatta great course! Prof Carman is a wonderful lecturer -- interesting, informative, entertaining. The class was cracking up several times a lecture; the material was all very interesting and relevant and fresh and un-stodgy. He speaks calmly, but with enthusiasm; he always has the time and patience for student questions, so that the 100-person lecture never felt intimidating; he has a genuine concern for students and a passionate and honest interest in the subject matter. He was always available, not only during office hours but at other times as well, for long discussions about essays and anything else. The first time I went to see him, we talked for an hour and a half about Hegel, Kant, Marx, Popper, Soros, Plato, Stalin, and god knows what else. He's an organized lecturer but doesn't talk like a machine - he's quite spontaneous. A combination of intelligence, knowledge, humiltiy, wit and humor, and accessibility. I cannot imagine a better philosophy course.