M.A. Courses | Spring 2022
PHI 506 Art and Its Problems*
Tuesday 1:15 - 4:15 | Brooklyn Commons
A borderland is an ambiguous site of transition in between places. This seminar will focus on the works of three contemporary feminist theorists who occupied/occupy geographical and philosophical borderlands: Gloria Anzaldúa (1942 – 2004), María Lugones (1944 – 2020), and bell hooks (1952 –). Although they come from different parts of the world and have distinctive voices and concerns, each of them writes from the perspective of displacement and marginalization. We will consider how their works relate to ongoing projects of critical phenomenology as we explore the differences and similarities between their conceptions of home, language, estrangement, playfulness, nature, plural identities, love, and writing. We will play special attention to the aesthetic dimensions of their poetry and prose as they relate to the specific geographical and historical contexts of their lives and to their own writings about art and imagination. This is a writing intensive seminar.
Required Texts: Gloria Anzaldúa: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Meztiza
María Lugones: Pilgramages/Peregrinajes
bell hooks: belonging: a culture of place
Monday 2:40 - 5:30 | Brooklyn Commons
Philosophy, Politics, Art: on Jean-Luc Nancy
Jean-Luc Nancy (1940-2021) was a political philosophy and a philosopher of art who first came to prominence with his 1984 book The Inoperative Community. This work reshaped the terms of debate in political philosophy in the final years of the Cold War and at the moment of the advent of neo-liberalism. In the following decades his work touched on the history of philosophy, art and literature, deconstruction, film, and the philosophy of religion, always challenging us to think hard about what it means to be with. In this course we will study his work on art and politics in the light of the human condition of being with, a term he inherits from Heidegger and radicalizes in reflections on embodiment and art.
Ph.D. Courses | Spring 2022
H = History; I = Interface; C = Contemporary
PHI 602 Modern Philosophy (H)
Tuesday 6:05 - 8:55
Kant's Moral Philosophy in Historical Context
This seminar deals with key aspects of Kant’s ethics and juridical theory of right in connection with central developments in early modern moral philosophy. We will be emphasizing the following topics and tasks:
(1) autonomy and the Kantian idea of a law of freedom; (2) major 17 th and 18 th century approaches to the foundations of morals; (3) analysis of the main line of argument in Sections I-II of Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals; (4) Kant’s treatment of the theorems of practical reason in the Critique of Practical Reason; (5) moral sentimentalism and rationalist perfectionism in the early development of Kant’s ethics; (6) Rousseau, Kant, and the Stoics; (7) laws of right, ethical lawgiving, and obligatory ends in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals; (8) discussion of Kant’s “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.”
WORKING TEXTS: Immanuel Kant, Practical Philosophy, trans. M. Gregor (Cambridge 1996); J. B. Schneewind, Moral Philosophy from Montaigne to Kant (Cambridge 2003)
PHI 611 Philosophy and Literature (I)*
Tuesday 3:00 - 5:50
Method and Interpretation
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: something was missing, as it was in Heidegger’s Being and Time, and in Sartre’s Being and Nothingness.
The hypothesis to be explored here is that language, understood as Discourse, may offer a (re)solution and place philosophy back on a concrete, material, “human” footing. To see the problem, we will analyze different methods of interpretation in literary study and the social sciences. Students will be asked to consider Carravetta’s The Elusive Hermes: Method, Discourse, Interpreting (2012) and go from there.
PHI 618 Philosophy and The Sciences (I)
Wednesday 2:40 - 5:30
Science and Technology
Philosophy of science deals with issues including realism, objectivity, theory, historicity, causality, space and time that are at the core of all branches of philosophy. This course explores the different approaches that are taken by analysts, pragmatists, and phenomenologists to philosophy of science. One way to notice philosophical issues at work is in controversies among scientists that cannot be resolved by throwing more laboratory research at them – such as interpreting quantum mechanics, emergence vs. reductionism, and scientific method – and the course looks at some. Other issues discussed include science policy and science denial.
PHI 631 Seminar in Analytic Philosophy (C)
Wednesday 6:05 - 8:55
Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Remarks on the Philosophy of Psychology, has this rhetorical exchange with himself: But you aren’t a pragmatist? No. For I am not saying that a proposition is true if it is useful.
Wittgenstein’s later philosophy sounds pragmatic when it suggests that meaning is
use or when it characterizes mental activity in terms of actions in the world of persons
and objects. However, in writings of the past few decades, philosophical thinkers
including Stanley Cavell, Richard Rorty, Robert Brandom, Cheryl Misak, Cora Diamond,
and Hilary Putnam have developed a complex relationship to both Wittgenstein’s philosophy
and historical pragmatism, and sometimes these thinkers have explicitly criticized
the idea that Wittgenstein’s thinking is pragmatic. Some of them have done this hoping
to detach at least the later Wittgenstein from the narrow, departmentalized analytic
philosophy prefigured by the pragmatists and locate him in the more culturally open
and socio-politically relevant Continental tradition. Others have argued that in fact
the pragmatists were the Continental-adjacent ones, that they were sort-of Hegelians
who vaulted over Wittgenstein’s struggles with Fregean and Russellian problematics
and anticipated recent socially significant developments in Continental philosophy.
Can Wittgenstein’s philosophy fairly be described as “pragmatist”? If not, what are the differences between these two ways of thinking of thought? As we answer these questions we shall explore the differences between Continental philosophy and the Anglo-American tradition on the subjects of meaning, the mind, and the norms that may or may not regulate those things.
*This course can be applied to the Advanced Graduate Certificate (AGC) in Art and Philosophy.