M.A. Courses | Spring 2021
PHI 505 History of Aesthetic Theory
M. Craig | Tuesday 1:00-4:00
Topic: Bergson, Deleuze and the Art of Multiplicity
This seminar investigates texts by Henri Bergson and Gilles Deleuze with an emphasis on their intellectual relationship and the style of prose connected to their distinctive theories. Beginning with Bergson's Time and Free Will, we will explore the concepts of duration, memory, multiplicity, and time at the center of his philosophy. We will then trace Deleuze's adoption and revision of these concepts in his own works and in work co-authored with Felix Guattari. A central part of our course entails exploring the performative aspects of Bergson's and Deleuze's philosophies, their reliance on specific examples and works of art, and the aesthetics of multiplicity that emerges from their philosophical/creative efforts.
PHI 402 / PHI 510: Ancient Philosophy
A. de Laurentiis | Thursday 3:00-5:50
Ancient philosophers would have thought it odd to separate academic disciplines from one another. We will imitate their approach by immersing ourselves in their reflections and discoveries ranging from metaphysics to physics to ethics and politics. We begin with extant fragments of pre-Socratic philosophers that will challenge our interpretive abilities; we then move to more complete, systematic, somewhat arduous Aristotelian texts; finally, we will gain familiarity with the cosmological and ethical thought of ancient Stoicism. This class is online but synchronous: participation is essential, note-taking from lectures is just as in in-person classes. I encourage you to keep a notebook with your summaries, critical insights, and especially questions to be discussed in class and during office hours. Essay exams on topics agreed upon with the instructor.
PHI 535 Political Philosophy
R. Harvey | Thursday 1:00 - 3:50
Topic: Foucault and Co.
Given the turn of historiography toward political and ethical questions, given queer theory and, far more sweepingly, the (re)introduction of the body – be it social or asocial – into hermeneutic activities of all sorts, given pervasive surveillance and control of bodies, but also given the activist bent gripping certain realms of aesthetics and politics, Michel Foucault looms large as one of the most influential theorists of the twentieth century. To come to terms with these phenomena of collective intellect, a deep familiarity with the fundamental works of Michel Foucault’s œuvre is indispensable. This is precisely what this seminar is meant to facilitate. The goal, thus, would be to explore a wide range of Foucault’s thought as well as his engagement with key contemporaries, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze. This will include, notably, Foucault’s debate with Derrida over what Descartes wrote about madmen in the First Meditation.
A massive amount of reading. Your oral assignments, therefore, will consist in short exercises in precise paraphrase; the written assignments in concise projections of use for the tools in the Foucaldian toolbox. Reading, discussion, comprehension, synthesis, implementation. In you lies the “future thought” that Michel Foucault envisioned on the final page of The Order of Things, where he also (in)famously predicted the effacement of “man.”
Ph.D. Courses | Spring 2021
H = History; I = Interface; C = Contemporary
PHI 603 19th Century Philosophy
Topic: Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (H)
M. Rawlinson | Tuesday 3:00 - 5:50
This course will consist in a close reading of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Special attention will be paid to the themes of phenomenological method, sexual difference, language, and the critique of reason, as well as the evolution of political community-- from the violent encounter, through mastery and slavery, culture, revolution, and morality to the breaking of the hard heart in an act of forgiveness that makes mutual recognition possible. Writing requirements will be established by individual contract.
Philosophy and Literature
Topic: Philosophy and Poiesis: Workshop on Wallace Stevens (I)
D. Dilworth | Thursday 3:00 - 5:50
The seminar will engage in a daunting but pleasurable project of interpreting Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), whose career-text features his transcendental performance in “the poems of our climate,” as well as articulating an ontological priority of the poetic imagination (“the theory of poetry is the theory of life.”) To the same outcome the seminar will interpret certain of the poems of immanent transcendence in the Gelegenheitdichtung of Goethe and Emily Dickinson, while re-cognizing the theoretical provenance of this trans-Atlantic paradigm (reflective theory of cognitive originality) in Kant, Schiller, Schelling, Emerson, and Peirce.
Topics in Interface Studies
Topic: Time and Democracy (I)
A. O'Byrne | Monday 2:40-5:30
In 508 B.C.E., Athenians were engaged in an obsessive scrutiny of the city’s rolls
in an effort to
decide who had the right genealogy and therefore could belong as a citizen. Cleisthenes put an end
the frenzy, rejecting genealogy and introducing demes or districts. Now, one became a citizen by
virtue of one’s deme, not one’s family, and democracy was born. But this was also the birth of the
problem of time for democracies. Invented specifically to interrupt generational time, how was a
democracy to perpetuate itself? How does a demos inherit its past? With no temporality of its own,
can it resist the assertion of generational and national time? Can democracy be the open scene of
different temporalities? How?
In this course we will explore the problem of time for democracies as it unfolds in radical
democratic thought. Under the heading of political philosophy and political theory, Claude Lefort,
Jacques Derrida, Jacques Rancière, Chantal Mouffe, William Connolly and Wendy Brown have
addressed democracy’s paradoxes and aporias; we will address them specifically as problems of time.
PHI 623 - Teaching Practicum
M. Rawlinson | Wednesday 2:40 - 5:30
PHI 631 Seminar in Analytic Philosophy
Topic: "Universal Pragmatics: Analytic Philosophy of Language and its Continental
L. Simpson | Wednesday 6:05 - 8:55
An examination of some central themes in Anglo-American philosophy of language and how they are treated by prominent European thinkers, with a specific focus on issues in semantics (theories of meaning and reference) and pragmatics (speech act theory, conversational implicature etc).
Readings to include: J. L. Austin, John Searle, Hilary Putnam, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Paul Grice, Charles Taylor, Richard Rorty, Martin Heidegger, Juergen Habermas and Jacques Derrida.
PHI 636 Metaphysics
Topic: Free Will (C)
H. Cormier | Monday 6:05 - 8:55
Metaphysics is the study of the way we and the world really are, as opposed to the way we and it merely seem to be. (If this project seems paradoxical and self-defeating on its face ... well, that thought has been had before.)
One of the main issues in that study is the question of our place in the world. Are we human beings special, somehow? Are we free to make choices concerning what we do and how we live our lives? Or are we just machines in a mechanical world, following the same iron laws as the stars, the rocks, the trees, and the cockroaches?
Ancient and modern thinkers have taken our freedom to be what makes us rational beings
special. It apparently gives us the power to shape our lives, the responsibility to
shape our lives in a moral way, and the right to have our lives get moral consideration.
“Lower” animals and their lives seem not to merit that kind of full moral consideration;
they are mere law-governed phenomena and not rational moral beings free to lift themselves
out of the causal order. (Interestingly, some human beings have been thought of and
treated as “lower” in the same way.)
In this seminar we will consider both historical and contemporary discussions of this metaphysical issue, and we will try to bridge the gap between mainstream analytic and phenomenological approaches. We will pay special attention to the question of free choice and its relation to questions of cognition, subjectivity, and the political preconditions of freedom.
Watson, ed., Free Will, 2nd ed. Oxford, ISBN 019925494X
Dennett, Freedom Evolves, Viking, ISBN 0142003840
Ross, et al., eds., Distributed Cognition and the Will, MIT Press, ISBN 0262681692
Schear, ed., Mind, Reason, and Being-‐in-‐the-‐World: The McDowell-‐Dreyfus Debate, Routledge, ISBN 0415485878