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M.A. Courses  |  Fall 2020

PHI 509.60 Special Seminar in Aesthetics

A. O’Byrne   | Tuesday  1:00-4:00  | Brooklyn Commons
Topic: Politics, Art, Memory                  

Our seminar investigates the pedagogical aspects of art and artistic practice through a close reading of John Dewey’s Art as Experience and related writings in conjunction with readings by relevant scholars and artists working at the intersection of art and education. We will discuss contemporary practice, performance, political art, the relationship between artist and spectator, early childhood educational theory, role-playing and repetition, and museum and curatorial practices. Throughout the semester we will consider the role of the artist in the social/political life of a community and the role of art in formal and informal educational settings. In addition to Dewey, authors include Aristotle, James, Danto, bell hooks, and Gadamer. This seminar includes collaborative projects and site visits to galleries and museums.


PHI 511 Modern Western Philosophy

J. Edwards  | Thursday 5:30-8:20 | Stony Brook University

This course surveys key developments in Western political philosophy between the Reformation period and the French Revolution. Our guiding theme will be the emergence of the modern conception of distributive justice. After treating some fundamental tenets of 16th-17th theories of natural law, we will pay special attention to the moral doctrines and political philosophies of the following 18th century thinkers: David Hume, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. These thinkers’ arguments will be examined in connection with selected writings by Karl Marx and John Rawls.                          

Ph.D. Courses | Fall 2020
H = History; I = Interface; C = Contemporary

PHI 600 Modern Philosophy
Topic: Parmenides  (H)
A. Kim | Monday 2:30-5:20

A close examination of the  Parmenides and its place in Plato’s metaphysics and logic.

PHI 602 Modern Philosophy
Topic: Freedom & Agency in Spinoza and Descartes (H)
A. Platt | Wednesday 2:30 - 5:30

The terms ‘action’ and ‘passion’ play a central role in Spinoza’s moral psychology, as well as in his broader ethical theory.  The concept of action is also closely linked, in early modern thought, to key ideas in metaphysics and physics, including the concepts of power, volition and conatus, or striving.  This seminar will explore these concepts in Spinoza, and in some of the authors who influenced his thought.  Our main text will be Spinoza’s Ethics.  We will supplement our reading of the Ethics with selections from Spinoza’s other writings, and with readings by some of his contemporaries, with special attention to Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy and Passions of the Soul.  Our goal will be to see Spinoza’s views about agency and freedom in historical context, and to better understand the role of conceptions of action, power and striving in seventeenth century physical, psychological and ethical theory.  


PHI 619 Topics in Interface Studies
Topic: Migration (I)
P. Carravetta | Thursday 2:30-5:20

Migration is a universal phenomenon and has been going on since the beginning of time. People are always migrating from place to place, or otherwise put, we are always crossing boundaries, frontiers, limits of all sorts, and always challenged to redefine ourselves and the world, the societies in which we live for a certain amount of time. The range and breadth of the condition of migrating will be put in relief at first by looking at how it has been studied in the social sciences, specifically in sociology, anthropology, political economy, and history. Migration introduces us to new conceptual vocabularies, such as hybridity, diaspora, métissage, ecology, demographic shifts and flows, mobility, alienation, identity (trans)formation, rootlessness. Finally, we will delve into the ideas of movement, metamorphosis, relation, and becoming through selected philosophical literary texts, from Homer and the pre-Socratics through Nietzsche and Derek Walcott.

Can a rethought understanding of migration, as homo migrans, as fundamental yet foundationless becoming, cast light on our Western Metaphysics? Or what is left of it? Possible outlooks will be explored, perhaps as term projects. Students: all materials will be posted on BB. Detailed Syllabus available in May.

Responsibilities: one class presentation, one term paper.   

PHI 630 Seminar in Continental Philosophy
A. Steinbock | Wednesday 6:00 - 8:50
Topic: Merleau Ponty

Along with Edmund Husserl, Max Scheler, and Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau- Ponty is one of the most important and influential figures in contemporary thought. A self-avowed student of Edmund Husserl, Merleau-Ponty opened up new possibilities for phenomenological philosophy. By uncovering the roots of sense-constitution, he uncovered the all-important role of the body for the emergence of meaning in the world, bringing it, the lived-body, into the limelight of philosophical reflection. He creatively developed and elaborated upon the notion of the lifeworld as well as the method of a “genetic” phenomenology of perception; he not only gave phenomenological psychology a new direction, but took his own phenomenology in the direction of a new ontology, an ontology of the “flesh.” His fundamental conception of existence as transcendence, and later, Being as “depth,” is expressed throughout his writings on aesthetics, politics, epistemology, and social ontology. Since we cannot meaningful cover all these dimensions of Merleau-Ponty’s thought and work in this course, this seminar will be devoted to a close textual reading of Merleau- Ponty’s early work, the Phenomenology of Perception.

Course Requirements:

Each student registered for the course will be responsible for one seminar paper concerning some aspect of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. All students attending the course will be responsible for presenting to the other participants a brief summary of the previous week’s seminar. This is to be submitted to me before the précisis to be presented to the class. After the summary is modified (if necessary) it will be made available to the other course participants on our next class meeting.

Required Texts

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, trans., Donald Landes

(Routledge, 2012). ISBN-10: 0415558697

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Primacy of Perception: And Other Essays on

Phenomenological Psychology, the Philosophy of Art, History and Politics, trans., William Cobb (Northwestern University Press, 1964). ISBN-10: 0810101645

PHI 644 Topics in Contemporary Philosophy
E. Casey | Tuesday 6:00 - 9:00

In this seminar, we shall first focus on texts exemplary of some of Derrida’s primary themes: writing, difference, the gift, the nature of law, the character of democracy-to-come, hospitality (especially as it bears on issues of immigration), the place of the animal, etc. We shall start with Derrida’s conception of grammatology and the deconstruction of the metaphysics of presence, concentrating on selected parts of Grammatology, Voice and Phenomenon, and the essay “Différance” (from Margins of Philosophy). From there we’re likely to read Given Time: Counterfeit Money. From the later period, we’ll be considering parts of Rogues (those concerning auto-immunity and democracy-to-come), “The Force of Law,” “Of Hospitality,” and selected parts of The Beast and the Sovereign. This list of readings is not final, and I want to leave room for the choice of writings that reflect the interests of members of the seminar. The two major aims of this course are: (i) to gain a sense of the magnitude and sweep of Derrida’s accomplishment as one of the major thinkers of our time; (2) to emphasize those themes that are particularly pertinent to the present moment. Requirements include oral reports on aspects of the reading for a given week and a final essay (or two shorter essays) that represent forays of your own, taking deconstruction broadly construed into areas of your own main concerns.


MA Seminars

PHI 505: History of Aesthetic Theory         Tuesday 1:00-4:00                     M. Craig

Topic: “Bergson and Deleuze: The Art  of Multiplicity”

PHI 535: Political Philosophy                               Thursday 1:00-4:00                R. Harvey

Topic: Foucault

PhD Seminars

PHI 603: 19 th Century Philosophy (H)                Tuesday 2:30-5:30             M. Rawlinson    

Topic: Hegel’s Phenomenology

PHI 611: Philosophy and Literature (I)                Thursday 2:30-5:30          D. Dilworth


PHI 623: Teaching Practicum                                     Wednesday 2:30-5:30      M. Rawlinson

PHI 631: Seminar in Analytic Philosophy (I)    Wednesday 5:30-8:30      L. Simpson

Topic: Philosophy of Language and it’s reception

PHI 636: Metaphysics (C)                                                Tuesday 6:00-9:00             H. Cormier

Topic: Free Will


Full Philosophy Graduate Course Catalogue