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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                  

From the triumphal arches of Rome to the historical Napoleonic paintings of Jacques-Louis David, art has had a central role in creating state history and commemorating the state’s triumphs to its people and to the world. How does this work for a modern democracy like ours? Specifically, since a democracy draws its authority from a sovereign people, how does a democracy celebrate itself and also take responsibility for its crimes? Do artworks obscure memory while also trying to further the work of remembering? In this course we will study the production of monuments and counter-monuments in the aftermath of political violence, the destruction of monuments as part of historical reckoning, and the public debates surrounding those productions and events in Germany, Rwanda, the United States and elsewhere. As we do so we will also consider the distinctive democratic forms of the questions of what we owe the past and what we owe the future, and the meaning of political responsibility. (Virtual) field trips will include the African Burial Ground, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and artworks by Anselm Kiefer and Kent Monkman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, as well as on-line tours of The Guantanamo Public Memory Project ( and States of Incarceration (


PHI 511 Modern Western Philosophy

J. Edwards  | Thursday 6:30 - 9:20 | 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 Ancient 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: Key Texts in Early Modern Political Philosophy  (H)
J. Edwards | Wednesday 2:30 - 5:30

This is a doctoral seminar on the foundations of modern political thought. Discussion will focus primarily on three major seventeenth-century works: Hobbes’s   Leviathan, Spinoza’s   Tractatus theologico-politicus, and Locke’s   Two Treatises of Government. But toward the end of the semester we will also be concerned with the radical criticism of fundamental tenets of modern natural law theory contained in Rousseau’s   Du contrat social.

You should acquire the following books: Thomas Hobbes:   Leviathan   (Hackett: 1994 – ISBN: 08722017750); Baruch Spinoza:   Theological-Political Treatise   (Hackett: 2011 – ISBN: 97808722060760);     John Locke:   Two Treatises of Government  (Cambridge University Press: [1960] 1988) – ISBN: 9780521357020); Jean-Jacques Rousseau:   The Basic Political Writings   (Hackett: 2011 – ISBN: 9781603846738). For ready reference throughout the semester, you should also have on hand a decent translation of Aristotle’s   Politics. (I’ll be quoting from Joe Sachs’s version, published in the Focus Philosophical Library [JE].)


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 510: Ancient Philosophy                                 Thursday 3:00-5:50            A. de Laurentiis

Topic: “Aristotle and Stoicism

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 (C)    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