NOTE: This list is currently tentative.
Days: T from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Instructor: Walter Brogan
This will be a seminar on both Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and his Politics. We will consider the relationship of these two treatises in light of the fundamental connection of both treatises to a conception of the good life as the life of politics. One overriding thematic concern will be to appraise Aristotle’s understanding of the relationship of theoretical and practical philosophy. We will examine the claim that Aristotle’s ethics is not so much normative in orientation as it is a treatise on the ontology of human being. We will discuss the emerging importance of the Ethics and Politics as seminal texts in contemporary philosophy. Though no advanced knowledge of ancient Greek is required, we will learn a good deal of basic Aristotelian vocabulary in the course of the semester and discuss the philosophically rich and complex meaning of these terms both in Aristotle and in the subsequent Aristotelian tradition. The first part of each class will combine lecture and seminar discussion and involve both an attempt to situate the readings in the overall context of Aristotle’s philosophy and careful, close textual analysis. The second part of the class will involve seminar presentations by participants and discussion.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. M. Ostwald. Pearson, 1999. ISBN-10 0023895306.
Aristotle’s Politics, 2nd edition. Trans. Carnes Lord. Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013. ISBN-10 0226921840.
Loeb or Oxford editions of Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, and Politics
Days: R from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Marx famously denounced religion as “the opium of the people” and claimed that “the criticism of religion is the premise of all criticism.” Usually Marx is considered to have abandoned these early concerns with the critique of religion and philosophy in favor of his later critique of political economy. In this course we will question this narrative by first studying some of Marx’ early work in the context of works by the so-called Young or Left Hegelians (Bruno Bauer, Edgar Bauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, Max Stirner, Arnold Ruge) and by then attending to key passages in Capital Vol.1 and Vol.3. We will examine how the critique of religion relates to the critique of the liberal state and political economy in these works. In order to consider the ways in which a critical understanding of religion and theological thinking remains crucial to Marx’ critique of capitalism, we will also pay special attention to the role that rhetoric and dialectics play in both Marx and the Left Hegelians.
Days: W from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Instructor: John Carvalho
This seminar will use readings of Proust and Signs (1964/1972), The Logic of Sense (1969), and Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981) to get a sense of what we will describe as the aesthetics of Gilles Deleuze. We will try to make sense of this aesthetics from Deleuze’s treatments of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and Francis Bacon’s paintings, especially Study After Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953). We will try to work out how Deleuze’s thinking in these treatments compares with what is called aesthetics, today.
Deleuze did not describe his work as aesthetics, nevertheless much of his writing runs through and draws concepts from works of art. The focus in this seminar will be on the novels and paintings discussed in our main texts, but we will also draw on what Deleuze has to say about music and film and from what he has to say in the texts – Difference and Repetition (1968) and the two volumes subtitled Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972 and 1980) – which intermediate those main texts. In what way do signs, series, sense and sensation lend themselves to and support a philosophy attentive to the description, interpretation and evaluation of the unity, complexity and intensity of works of art and objects in general? Is Deleuze’s philosophy aesthetics in general or only in some of its applications?
Days: R from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Instructor: Georg Theiner
In philosophy of mind and cognitive science, enactivist approaches view mind and cognition as arising from the dynamic interplay between the living organism and its environment, as it unfolds through the activities and experiences of situated lived bodies interacting with the world, alongside each other. Understood in this context, Varela, Thompson, and Rosch (1991) coined the term ‘enaction’ in their seminal work The Embodied Mind to “emphasize the growing conviction that cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs”. Today, enactivism is a key player in a cluster of related theoretical paradigms known as the ‘4E’s’, for their commitment to study mind and cognition as embodied, embedded, extended, enacted phenomena. The goal of this seminar is to understand the central ideas and tenets of enactivism, its main theoretical strands, how it differs from neighboring and rival accounts, and what it has to offer to specific areas of study in biology, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, culture, linguistics, art, performance, and human-computer interaction.
Enactivism is a colorful tapestry of interwoven and mutually supporting ideas, methods, and perspectives drawn from a variety of fields, notably psychology and cognitive science, phenomenology, and systems biology and neuroscience. Historically, it traces its roots to phenomenological and existentialist traditions (esp. Merleau-Ponty, Jonas, Husserl, and Schütz), and has strong affinities with the pragmatism of James and Dewey, constructivist epistemologies, Gestalt psychology, ecological psychology, and the cybernetics movement. In our course, we shall discuss several themes that are central and distinctive to enactivism as a paradigm: (1) its attention to the fine details of (non-neurally) embodied cognition, such as bodily morphology and physiology, sensorimotor and homeodynamic organization, temporality and movement, habits and historicity, posture and expressivity; (2) its relational ontology of the mental, promoting the view that cognition, agency, experience, and the self are not ‘within’ but ‘between’ properties that emerge from complex entanglements between brains, bodies, material culture, and environmental scaffolds and affordances; (3) the centrality of lived experience for a scientific study of the mind, embracing a variety of first-person methods and techniques for the exploration of consciousness; (4) the mutual dependence and complementarity between third-person scientific accounts of the living body and first-person accounts of lived experience, an enterprise sometimes glossed as ‘naturalized phenomenology’; and (5) the deep continuity of life and mind, a thesis according to which mind shares the same basic organizational properties with life, which assures that living things, even in their most basic form, are already ‘mind-like’ and minds, even in their richest forms, always remain ‘life-like’.
Our seminar readings will include significant portions of the following books (together with articles and book chapters):
Evan Thompson: Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind
Thompson draws upon sources as diverse as molecular biology, evolutionary theory, artificial life, complex systems theory, neuroscience, psychology, Continental Phenomenology, and analytic philosophy to argue that mind and life are more continuous than has previously been accepted, and that current explanations do not adequately address the myriad facets of the biology and phenomenology of mind. Where there is life, Thompson argues, there is mind: life and mind share common principles of self-organization, and the self-organizing features of mind are an enriched version of the self-organizing features of life.
Shaun Gallagher: Enactivist Interventions
Enactivist Interventions is an interdisciplinary work that explores how theories of embodied cognition illuminate many aspects of the mind, including intentionality, representation, the affect, perception, action and free will, higher-order cognition, and intersubjectivity. Gallagher argues for a rethinking of the concept of mind, drawing on pragmatism, phenomenology and cognitive science. Enactivism is presented as a philosophy of nature that has significant methodological and theoretical implications for the scientific investigation of the mind. Gallagher's analysis also addresses recent predictive models of brain function and outlines an alternative, enactivist interpretation that emphasizes the close coupling of brain, body and environment rather than a strong boundary that isolates the brain in its internal processes. The extensive relational dynamics that integrates the brain with the extra-neural body opens into an environment that is physical, social and cultural and that recycles back into the enactive process. Cognitive processes are in-the-world rather than in-the-head; they are situated in affordance spaces defined across evolutionary, developmental and individual histories, and are constrained by affective processes and normative dimensions of social and cultural practices.
Dan Hutto & Erik Myin: Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content
Most of what humans do and experience is best understood in terms of dynamically unfolding interactions with the environment. Many philosophers and cognitive scientists now acknowledge the critical importance of situated, environment-involving embodied engagements as a means of understanding basic minds -- including basic forms of human mentality. Yet many of these same theorists hold fast to the view that basic minds are necessarily or essentially contentful -- that they represent conditions the world might be in. In this book, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin promote the cause of a radically enactive, embodied approach to cognition that holds that some kinds of minds -- basic minds -- are neither best explained by processes involving the manipulation of contents nor inherently contentful. Hutto and Myin oppose the widely endorsed thesis that cognition always and everywhere involves content. They defend the counter-thesis that there can be intentionality and phenomenal experience without content, and demonstrate the advantages of their approach for thinking about scaffolded minds and consciousness.
Dan Hutto & Erik Myin: Evolving Enactivism: Basic Minds Meet Content
Evolving Enactivism argues that cognitive phenomena -- perceiving, imagining, remembering -- can be best explained in terms of an interface between contentless and content-involving forms of cognition. Building on their earlier book Radicalizing Enactivism, which proposes that there can be forms of cognition without content, Daniel Hutto and Erik Myin demonstrate the unique explanatory advantages of recognizing that only some forms of cognition have content while others -- the most elementary ones -- do not. They offer an account of the mind in duplex terms, proposing a complex vision of mentality in which these basic contentless forms of cognition interact with content-involving ones.
Giovanna Colombetti: The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind
In The Feeling Body, Giovanna Colombetti takes ideas from the enactive approach developed over the last twenty years in cognitive science and philosophy of mind and applies them for the first time to affective science -- the study of emotions, moods, and feelings. She argues that enactivism entails a view of cognition as not just embodied but also intrinsically affective, and she elaborates on the implications of this claim for the study of emotion in psychology and neuroscience.
Lambros Malafouris: How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement
In How Things Shape the Mind, Lambros Malafouris proposes a cross-disciplinary analytical framework for investigating the ways in which things have become cognitive extensions of the human body. Using a variety of examples and case studies, he considers how those ways might have changed from earliest prehistory to the present. Malafouris’s Material Engagement Theory definitively adds materiality -- the world of things, artifacts, and material signs -- into the cognitive equation. His account not only questions conventional intuitions about the boundaries and location of the human mind but also suggests that we rethink classical archaeological assumptions about human cognitive evolution.
Simon Penny: Making Sense: Cognition, Computing, Art, and Embodiment
In Making Sense, Simon Penny proposes that internalist conceptions of cognition have minimal purchase on embodied cognitive practices. Much of the cognition involved in arts practices remains invisible under such a paradigm. Penny argues that the mind-body dualism of Western humanist philosophy is inadequate for addressing performative practices. Ideas of cognition as embodied and embedded provide a basis for the development of new ways of speaking about the embodied and situated intelligences of the arts. Penny argues this perspective is particularly relevant to media arts practices.
John Stewart, Olivier Gapenne, Ezequiel A. Di Paolo (Eds.): Enaction: Toward a New Paradigm for Cognitive Science
This book presents the framework for a new, comprehensive approach to cognitive science. The proposed paradigm, enaction, offers an alternative to cognitive science's classical, first-
generation Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). Enaction, first articulated by Varela, Thompson, and Rosch in The Embodied Mind (MIT Press, 1991), breaks from CTM's formalisms of information processing and symbolic representations to view cognition as grounded in the sensorimotor dynamics of the interactions between a living organism and its environment. A living organism enacts the world it lives in; its embodied action in the world constitutes its perception and thereby grounds its cognition. Enaction offers a range of perspectives on this exciting new approach to embodied cognitive science.
Dan Zahavi: Husserl’s Legacy: Phenomenology, Metaphysics, and Transcendental philosophy
“I will argue that Husserl was not a sophisticated introspectionist, not a phenomenalist, nor an internalist, not a quietist when it comes to metaphysical issues, and not opposed to all forms of naturalism. On a more positive note, I will argue, that a proper grasp of Husserl’s transcendental idealism will reveal how fundamental a role he ascribed to embodiment and intersubjectivity. Ultimately, I will argue that he has more in common with contemporary enactivism than with traditional internalist representationalism. Indeed, if anything my interpretation will seek to show that Husserl’s phenomenology is as much about the world as it is about consciousness.”
Havi Carel & Darian Meacham (Eds.): Phenomenology and Naturalism: Examining the Relationship between Human Experience and Nature
What is the relationship between phenomenology and naturalism? Are they mutually exclusive or is a rapprochement possible between their approaches to consciousness and the natural world? Can phenomenology be naturalised and ought it to be? Or is naturalism fundamentally unable to accommodate phenomenological insights? How can phenomenological method be used within a naturalistic research programme? This cutting-edge collection of original essays contains brilliant contributions from leading phenomenologists across the world. The collection presents a wide range of fascinating and carefully argued answers to these questions.
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Instructor: Yannik Thiem
Prerequisite: PHI 9010