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M.A. Courses  |  Fall 2022

PHI 505.60 History of Aesthetic Theory 
Thursday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm | Brooklyn Commons
Improvisation in Art: Movement in Dance and Other Arts
Audrey Ellis

Improvisational practices in the arts immediately implicate the body as a responsive, resonate force in the world. And yet, our discursive renderings of both “improvisation” and “the body” in philosophical discourse are often treated as separate and discrete conceptual movements. What is an improvisational body? How is this body implicated in our philosophical practices? What conceptual possibilities become available to our aesthetic, social and political philosophies when we are attentive to bodily movement considered as a particular kind of thinking?

This course will radically de-center theories of music improvisation in favor of exploring our philosophical understanding of improvisational movement (bodily movements and movements of thought) as a form of meaning-making within art practices. While there will be a particular emphasis on dance improvisation, an expansive approach to improvisational movement within the arts will bring our attention to various art practices and forms. Note that each class meeting will include an improvisational activity. 


PHI 507.60 Inquiries into Art Criticism and Theory*
Thursday 4:45 - 7:35 | Brooklyn Commons
Methods and Interpretation
Peter Carravetta

Originally conceived as something along the lines of a “Being and Method” proposal, it soon became obvious that the juxtaposition of ontology and epistemology in and by itself would not suffice: The hypothesis to be explored here is that language, understood as Discourse, may offer a (re)solution and place philosophy and ethics back on a pragmatic, material, “human” footing. To see the problem, we will analyze different methods of interpretation in literary study and the social sciences.

Students will learn (and critique) the methods of: Marxism, structuralism/deconstruction, reception aesthetics, post-colonial critique and hermeneutics. And (re)thinking rhetoric in terms of Discourse. Students will have ample opportunity to explore some other school of interpretation we can’t treat in class. Materials to test our grasp of these approaches will be drawn from both European and non-European historical contexts, as well as from current issues (Supreme Court cases, immigration reform, cinema, crises in higher education, energy and environmental debates and legislation, and so on), with emphasis remaining on method/s in a post-metaphysical universe. Student responsibilities include 2 short papers on topics assigned, a class presentation, and a term paper. Will have one or two guest speakers. Syllabus available as of May.

PHI 508.60 Contemporary Issues in Arts*
Tuesday 4:45 - 7:35 | Brooklyn Commons
Eye, Hand, Voice in Art
Ed Casey

Phase I: EYE (end of August to mid-September)
Main Reading: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Eye and Mind”
Rec. Reading:Phenomenology of Perception: selected passages
Special Guest: Margot McLean (painter)

Phase II: HAND (mid-September to late October)
Reading: Richard Kearney, Touch: Recovering Our Most Vital Sense
George Quasha, Axial Stones
Andrew Mitchell, Heidegger Among the Sculptors: Body, Space, and the Art of Dwelling
Rec. Reading: Sondra Fraleigh, Dancing Identity: Metaphysics in Motion
Special Guests: Richard Kearney, George Quasha, Andrew Mitchell, Nobuho Nagasawa

Phase III: VOICE (late October to early December)
Readings: Fred Evans, selections The Multivoiced Body: Society and Communication in The Age of Diversity
Ron Scapp, sections of A Question of Voice: Philosophy and the Search For Legitimacy
Simone Kearney, Days
Special Guests: Fred Evans, Ron Scapp, Simone Kearney

In this three-tiered course, we shall trace out the fate of the lived body in art: the various roles it plays in the creation of artworks, both from the standpoint of the creator and of the spectator. The visuality of art will be approached mainly from Merleau-Ponty’s essay, “Eye and Mind,” supplemented by a visit to MOMA where we’ll look closely at certain paintings of Cezanne’s. How the hand figures in art will take us to sculpture in the second phase. Taking off from Richard Kearney’s recent book Touch, we shall focus on sculpture (with assistance from sculptor/poet George Quasha and on Heidegger’s views with help from Andrew Mitchell), dance (drawing on Sondra Fraleigh’s Dancing Identity: Metaphysics in Motion), and on public art (with the intervention of Nobuho Nagasawa). A final segment will take up the voice – both the voice that presents poetry and the voice of political protest: and how these can combine to powerful effect. Here we shall take up Fred Evans’ The Multivoiced Body and Ron Scapp’s A Question of Voice: both authors will join us to discuss their work, and Brooklyn poet Simone Kearney will read from Days, her most recent collection of poems. In these various differential ways, this course explores the fate of three corporeal modalities in the creation and experience of art.

Ph.D. Courses | Fall 2022
H = History; I = Interface; C = Contemporary

PHI 600 Ancient Philosophy 
Thursday 3:00 - 5:50
Alan Kim

We will explore the development of Plato's moral philosophy from the early to the late dialogues. Readings will include all or parts of: Euthyphro, Crito,  Phaedo; Republic and Gorgias; Phaedrus and Symposium; Philebus.

PHI 601 Medieval and/or Renaissance Philosophy 
Tuesday 3:00 - 5:50
Medieval Philosophy
Clyde Lee Miller 

This course involves close reading of selected shorter and longer texts from some  of the most important medieval thinkers from Augustine to Cusanus. Students will write four short papers and report on one or more secondary readings relevant to these texts.


PHI 610 Philosophy and the Arts *
Wednesday 2:40 - 5:30
Robert  Crease

Philosophy and the Arts is an “interface” course, meaning that its topic lies at the intersection of philosophy and another discipline, in this case, different kinds of creative arts.  Each class will connect with a different art and with an individual practicing in that art.  The arts involved include theater, dance, painting, sculpture, architecture, improvisation, co-creation/ethical storytelling, and others.  Students will be expected to explore philosophical connections while displaying a concrete knowledge of the interfaced art. The course can provide preparation for an interface paper.

PHI 630 Continental Philosophy 
Wednesday 6:05 - 8:55
Husserl the Priority of the Other
Anthony Steinbock 

This graduate seminar will be devoted to a careful and systematic reading of Edmund Husserl’s Analyses Concerning Passive and Active Synthesis: Lectures on Transcendental Logic.  

Coming from what is arguably the most productive period of Husserl’s life, the Analyses are the first extensive application of Husserl’s newly developed genetic phenomenology to perceptual experience and to the way in which it is connected to judgments and cognition. They include an historical reflection on the crisis of contemporary thought and human spirit, provide an archaeology of experience by questioning back into sedimented layers of sense and meaning, and sketch the genealogy of judgment in “active synthesis.” 

Drawing upon everyday events and personal experiences, the Analyses are marked by a patient attention to the subtle emergence of sense in our lives. By advancing a phenomenology of association that treats such phenomena as bodily kinaesthesis, temporal genesis, habit, affection, attention, motivation, and the unconscious, Husserl explores the cognitive dimensions of the body in its affectively significant surroundings. An elaboration of these diverse modes of evidence and their modalizations (transcendental aesthetic), allows Husserl to trace the origin of truth up to judicative achievements (transcendental logic).  

Joined by several of Husserl’s essays on static and genetic method, the Analyses afford a richness of description unequaled by the majority of Husserl’s works available to English readers. 

PHI 633 American Pragmatism and Nationalism 
Monday 4:25 - 7:15
Harvey Cormier

The distinctively American philosophy called pragmatism is a theory of truth and meaning. In this seminar we will pay special attention to its moral and political ramifications, especially those involving nation and “race.” We will consider pragmatic discussions of the ways in which human selves are constructed and live in those nations and races, and we will consider ways in which those pragmatic discussions have been criticized from ostensibly more radical political perspectives. We will consider writings by William James, C. S. Peirce, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Lewis Gordon, Antonio Gramsci, Cornel West, Louis Menand, Richard Rorty, C. Wright Mills, Emile Durkheim, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Charles Mills.


*This course can be applied to the Advanced Graduate Certificate (AGC) in Art and Philosophy.

Full Philosophy Graduate Course Catalogue