Splash Biography



JONATHON CATLIN, Philosopher of everyday life




Major: Fundamentals

College/Employer: UChicago

Year of Graduation: 2015

Picture of Jonathon Catlin

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Jon teaches philosophy to local 4th-8th grade students through the University of Chicago's Winning Words program. He studies philosophy, history, literature, and critical theory—especially the way historical events influence how we think.



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

A1385: On Violence: A Philosophical and Psychological Introduction in Cascade Fall 2014 (Oct. 21, 2014)
Violence has always been a major problem in human society. But what exactly is violence, and why is it so common all over the world today? In this class, we will compare our own experiences of violence in Chicago with those of earlier periods in human history as they were written about by great philosophers (Socrates, Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke) and social activists (Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X). In our discussions, we will focus on the following questions: Is violence part of human nature, or is it preventable? Is violence ever justified? Is there more or less violence today than in earlier times? In answering these and other questions, we will also frequently consider evidence from famous psychological experiments about violent behavior and individuals. Scenarios for discussion will be drawn from cases of violence in Chicago, wars in history, as well as extreme examples such as terrorism and the Holocaust. We will conclude by discussing solutions to violence today and how we might work toward them.


C1377: Politics and Psychology: Reason or Emotion? in Splash Fall 2014 (Oct. 04, 2014)
In this course, we will explore answers to a common social question: Why do good, smart people disagree so much when it comes to political and social issues like abortion and gay marriage? Using psychological research into the source of peoples' values, we will see that the source of peoples' political and social values are not primarily rational, but instead emotional and intuitive. This conclusion has striking consequences for politics, and will discuss and debate why people disagree on contentious social issues including gay marriage, abortion, and the role of religion in government and society. We will also see how the role of values in politics differs between liberals and conservatives, and Democrats and Republicans. For a preview of issues and topics to be covered, visit therighteousmind.com, from which we will draw the core values to be discussed in a political context: authority, sanctity, loyalty, fairness, liberty, and care.


A1259: Morality and the Holocaust: What Would You Have Done? in Cascade! Winter 2014 (Jan. 28, 2014)
We often think of the Holocaust as part of history that could never happen again, but many of the moral questions the Holocaust raised remain relevant today. Through movie clips and short readings related to the Holocaust, we will bring questions of human rights and moral action to life: how did so many ordinary German people become killers? If you were forced to select one of your children for the gas chambers, how could you choose? If you were a Jewish victim and a Nazi criminal on his deathbed asked for forgiveness, would you forgive him? Would you do what you are told, even if it hurt someone? We will engage with such topics like psychology, moral philosophy, history, and literature through the context of the Holocaust.


C1136: What is Human Nature? in Splash! Fall 2013 (Oct. 05, 2013)
“Oh, that’s just human nature,” people sometimes say—as if it we all agreed on what human nature is! Philosophers have disagreed about what human beings are naturally like and how they naturally act for thousands of years. In this class, we will sketch out several theories of the “state of nature"—how people lived before civilization—proposed by the philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau, and discuss what they mean for how we should live our lives and structure our societies.