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M.A. Courses  |  Spring 2020

PHI 505.60 History of Aesthetic Theory

M. Craig | Tuesday  1:00-4:00  | Brooklyn Commons
Topic: Art as Education                     

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 508.60 Contemporary Issues

P. Carravetta | Thursday 1:00 - 4:00 | Brooklyn Commons 
Topic: Postmodernisms    

The aim of this course is to learn about the origins, developments, and consequences of what goes under the general heading of The Postmodern Age. This covers a number of cultural events and schools of thought  (hence the plural in the title) that occupy a period of roughly six decades, from WWII to 9/11. Preliminary to the work we will do in class, however, is  to discuss a few seminal ideas that go further back, basically to Nietzsche, Freud and Heidegger, revolutions in physics (Einstein, Heisenberg), philosophy of science (Kuhn, Feyerabend), existentialism, and the artistic avant-gardes (Futurism, Metaphysics, Dada, Surrealism; Ab. Expressionism, Pop Art)).

After the Introductory session, about 3 weeks, we will read and discuss in detail the listed works by Jencks and Lyotard, which remain canonical.

By the fifth week, we will start looking at different strands as they developed in different disciplines (visual arts, architecture, post-colonial studies, popular culture), begin readings from  the Best & Kellner anthology and others that will be posted on BB.

By the seventh week, students will begin their own projects on a particular issue and do research to prepare for a substantial class presentation (which can be basis for a term paper).

Among the topics we will dwell upon during the last five weeks of the seminar are basic but little understood postmodern notions such as “the end of ideology,” “the end of metaphysics,” “the end of history,” and various “crises” in scientific epistemology and cultural critique. Among the issues left open by the end of the semester are globalization, migration, and the end of utopias. The Key decade to understand the postmodern in all its complexity is the decade between the coming down of the Berlin wall in 1989, and the coming down of the World Trade center in 2001. A case will be made that in the XXI century we are actually living the full ramifications of the Postmodern, with the End of Humanism being its central figure.

Lectures will be complemented by Power Point presentations. Most supplementary material, as well bibliographies, will be posted on Blackboard. Required reading:

  • Jean-François Lyotard,  The Postmodern Condition. U Minnesota P, 1984 or later pb editions.
  • Charles Jencks,  What is Post-Modernism? NY, St. Martin's Press, 1986 or later reprints, pb.
  • Selections from Fredric Jameson,  Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke UP, 1991; [Selections from] Postmodern Theory, ed. by Steven Best & Douglas Kellner (Guilford Press, 1991); Stefan Herbrechter.  Post-Humanism, A critical Analysis (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013; Peter Carravetta: After All: Understanding the Post-Orwellian Age (MS in progress but selections from draft for class use will be available in PDF later in semester).

To all, welcome to an intellectual banqet!


PHI 510.01 Individual Systems of the Great Philosophers

A. deLaurentiis | Monday 2:30-5:30  | Stony Brook University
Topic: Rousseau and Revolution                                                                              Jean-Jacques

Rousseau’s life (1712 -1778) and work are, by all standards, emblematic of radical thinking. Rousseau’s work defined the ideological parameters of eighteenth-century French revolutionaries, as well as of subsequent developments of the revolution (from post-revolutionary dictatorship, to the separation of state and religion, to individual freedoms.) Hence, Rousseau is essential reading for anyone interested in the many souls of economic and political revolutions (not just the French), in the enduring legacy of secularism and citizenship in western political culture, or in later modern developments, especially Kant’s philosophy.

Readings: Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts; Discourse on the Origin of Inequality; Discourse on Political Economy; On the Social Contract; selections (TBA) from The Reveries of the Solitary Walker.

Hard copy books are required because screens are not allowed and lectures and discussions are directly anchored to the readings.  

Required texts (if you read French, you are encouraged to work with any edition of these):

  • J.-J. Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings, translated by Donald A. Cress, Hackett.
  • J.-J. Rousseau, The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, translated by Charles E. Butterworth, Hackett.

Other texts from the history of philosophy to which Rousseau refers will be provided by me.

Seminar requirements:

Two essays (one mid-term, one final) on topics agreed upon with me.

One in-class oral presentation of a selected chapter/passage/text.


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

PHI 602 Modern Philosophy
Topic: Rousseau (H)
A. O'Byrne | Wednesday 6:00-9:00

Though a central figure in political theory, Rousseau is not firmly lodged in the philosophical canon. Why then study the thinker who brought us the noble savage, the great legislator, the imperious mistress, and citizens who must be forced to be free? This course will be an attempt to discover how these figures lead us into the paradoxes or aporias of democracy, specifically, the paradox that emerge when we locate sovereignty in a people that is not yet a people, institute equality among free beings who insist on being unequal, and cherish the freedom of beings who don't seem to know what to do. The primary texts will be: Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

The Social Contract, Emile, or, on Education

Letter to d'Alembert (also known as  Politics and the Arts).

PHI 603 19th Century Philosophy
Topic: Hegels Anthropology (H)
A. DeLaurentiis | Thursday 5:30-8:30

A study of Subdivision One of the Philosophy of Subjective Spirit, i.e., of Part Three of the 1830 Encyclopaedia. This subdivision is entitled “Anthropology. The Soul.” It provides the grounding and presuppositions of the subsequent section, called “Phenomenology of Spirit.”

Initial lectures will frame this theory of the psyche in the context of the philosophy of Organic Nature, on the one hand, and the Phenomenology and Psychology of spirit, on the other.

Main topics: introduction to Hegel’s mature philosophy ( Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences); Hegel’s debt to Aristotle’s theory of the soul (esp. De anima); hylemorphism and entelechism of Hegel’s Seele; animal subjectivity; human subjectivity (genus, races, peoples, kinships, individuals); speculative and empirical treatment of the soul; potential and actual derangement; mastery of the body, self-habituation, the will; threshold to consciousness.


One in-class presentation of one or more sections; one term-paper (about 20 pp.) on a topic agreed upon ahead of time. Reliance on secondary literature is welcome, but the argument of your paper will be developed based on the original text (or its translation).

Two required texts:

  • Michael J. Petry, Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit (1978). No Miller translations please.

German readers please use the original (e.g., Hegel Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Bd. 10).

  • Michael Inwood, A Hegel Dictionary, Blackwell 1992.


PHI 631 Seminar in Analytic Philosophy
Topic: Dreaming and Madness: Philosophy of Mind in a New Key (C)
A. Chakrabarti | Monday 2:30 - 5:30

Human minds not only consist of perceiving, thinking, feeling, imagining and willing. Normal minds have dreams that could be “interpreted” as imaginative fulfillments of unconscious wishes or sustained hallucinations that are somehow “believed” at the time of their occurrence.  Going “out of one’s mind” is also something that some minds sometimes do. Both of these states: dreams and bouts of insanity are sometimes traced back, in folk-psychology, to functions of imagination. In this seminar we shall approach contemporary philosophy of mind through a conceptual analysis of the phenomena of dreaming and the cognitive neuroscience of delusional thought, or madness.  Exploring the connection between these two kinds of mental and cognitive states and our sense of self and identity will be one of the major agendas.


  • Dreaming: A Conceptual Framework for Philosophy of Mind and Empirical Research(The MIT Press, 2015) by  Jennifer M. Windt
  • The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience and  Delusional Thought by Philip Gerrans (The MIT Press, 2014)
  • Mindsight: Image, Dream, Meaning by Colin McGinn  (Harvard University Press, 2004)

PHI 641 Aesthetics
(C or  I)
M. Rawlinson | Tuesday 2:30 - 5:30

This course will focus on what Plato calls the old quarrel of philosophy with art over truth. The first part of the course will track the development of this quarrel in Plato, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, culminating in an analysis of Nietzsche’s concept of the “artist-philosopher.” We will then take up Proust’s claim that philosophy must become literature in order to achieve its philosophical aims. We will pay particular attention to Proust’s phenomenology of reading and his assessment of truth in painting. Finally, we will turn to Stanley Cavell’s account of truth in film in his classic work The Pursuit of Happiness and Italo Calvino’s exploration of the possibility of philosophical truth in Invisible Cities. At least one field trip to museums in NYC will be required.



Full Philosophy Graduate Course Catalogue