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    • Courses in the Department of Philosophy combine deep intellectual analyses of important thinkers with a robust and comprehensive survey of their important thoughts. Through studying both, students learn underlying concepts and examine bigger intellectual implications.

      Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2020 courses include:

      • AI and the Human(ities), GPHI 5021
        Zed Adams, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        What is intelligence, and what does it tell us about the nature of the human(ities)? Those searching for artificial intelligence have tended to assume that intelligence is a fixed phenomenon, static and unchanging, so that if the search is successful, it has been achieved once and for all. In this week-long intensive seminar, we read and discuss a number of writers who have challenged this assumption. Texts discussed include Jessica Riskin’s The Restless Clock (2016), John Haugeland’s Having Thought (1998), Brian Cantwell Smith’s The Promise of Artificial Intelligence (2019), and Markus Gabriel’s Neo-Existentialism (2018) and The Meaning of Thought (2020). In addition to daily seminar meetings, there will also be a series of keynotes given by Riskin, Smith, Susan Schneider, Nell Watson, and Jens Schröter. Note: this course will be co-taught by Markus Gabriel from the University of Bonn.

      • Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit 1, GPHI 6018
        Jay Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

      • Plato's Republic, GPHI 6104
        Cinzia Arruzza, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        Is The Republic a dialogue on moral psychology, on politics, or on metaphysics? In this course, we read the dialogue against the background of debates in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE on justice, pleonexia, and courage and on tyranny and Athens’ imperialism in order to fully appraise its political dimension. We focus on Plato’s redefinition of virtues and its connection to his conception of the nature of the soul in order to grasp how the dialogue’s political intervention is inseparable from the elaboration of a new moral psychology. Finally we discuss the status of philosophy and the theory of Forms in order to understand the inner connection between Plato’s moral psychology and his metaphysics.

      • Spinoza, GPHI 6138
        Omri Boehm, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        This course is designed as a comprehensive reading of Spinoza’s Ethics. We begin with a close reading of the first part of the Ethics, exploring its methodological and metaphysical implications, and continue by examining its epistemological, psychological, ethical, political, and theological significance. We carefully reconstruct the arguments in class and read assigned texts line by line. Topics covered include Spinoza’s account of the geometrical method, his proofs of God’s existence, monism, immanence, parallelism, knowledge and power, and virtue, freedom, and the immortality of the soul.

      • Time, Being, and the Unconscious, GPHI 6154
        Alan Bass, Part-Time Faculty

        The course focuses on Heidegger's reading of Kant on the transcendental imagination in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics to demonstrate its relevance to Freud's theory of unconscious processes. Time permitting, the course then turns to the Zollikon Seminars, Heidegger's only extended consideration of psychoanalysis.

      • Contemporary Political Philosophy, GPHI 6656
        Ross Poole, Part-Time Faculty

      • The Abdication of Ecstasy: Madness, Mysticism, Writing, and Experience, GPHI 6748
        Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy

        This will be an experimental and experiential seminar in the proper sense, which is linked to an emergent area of my research. My concern is with the poverty of contemporary experience and how that misery can be transformed with a wealth of words that might permit one to push against the pressure of reality and allow for a richness of life and a possible transfiguration of self and world, a kind of ecstasy. I work with a series of cases: J.A. Baker’s amazing The Peregrine, an object lesson in observation, experience and transformation; a number of works by Anne Carson, Annie Dillard, and Samuel Beckett; the poetry of Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot; and the "radical empiricism" of William James. Two central and important areas of focus are the relation of writing to the experience of "madness" and ontological insecurity in the work of R.D. Laing, especially The Divided Self, and the relation of writing to spiritual experience in the work of the important mystical medieval writer Julian of Norwich, who might well be the heroine of this seminar.

      • Human Observation, GPHI 6752
        Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy, and Christian Madsbjerg, Visiting Professor of Applied Humanities

        We hope this course will change your life. True observation is the ability to look and listen without the interference of assumptions and prejudices. It is a skill that is becoming increasingly rare in the hyperconnected data-reliant world that we live in. This course is an attempt at returning to the human way of looking at things, a way that industries are coming home to after experiencing the insufficiency of Big Data. In this seminar, we gain an understanding of the process of observation by reading selections from the philosophical works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, William James, Martin Heidegger, and John Stuart Mill. In addition, we read examples of great observation from the literary works of J.A. Baker, Annie Dillard, Georges Perec, Lawrence Durell, and Nicholson Baker to understand what it takes to conjure a lived experience on a page. Class discussions are accompanied by rich industry examples in which the practical application of human observation has solved complex business or government problems. Students complement their theoretical study with practice. The city of New York is perhaps one of the best places in the world to observe human beings engaged in social practices. Students work in groups and immerse themselves in a lived experience of their choosing, each making an individual attempt at describing their observation. Groupmates critique one another’s observation of the same lived experience, focusing on the strength of observation and clarity of description.

      • Aristotle's Philosophy of Nature, GPHI 6763
        Dmitri Nikulin, Professor of Philosophy

        As we face the contemporary challenges of climate change and the overall destruction of nature, it is clear that we do not have a satisfactory modern account of nature. In this seminar, we discuss one of the historically most important philosophical investigations of nature, Aristotle’s Physics, as well as parts of his On the Heavens, with the aim of establishing a different perspective on nature, one that might help us in addressing our current environmental catastrophe.

      • Mind Design, GPHI 6765
        Zed Adams, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        How does the emergence of new technologies transform the way we think about what it is to be human? This course explores the dialectical nature of the relationship between technology and our self-understanding, how new technologies provide us with new models for how our minds do, or do not, work. Figures discussed include Descartes, La Mettrie, Kant, Lovelace, Canguilhem, Chomsky, Haugeland, and Buckner.

      • Global Critical Theory, GPHI 6766
        Chiara Bottici, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Benoit Challand, Associate Professor of Sociology

        Critical theory is often presented as a tradition rooted in the Western philosophical canon and thus hardly applicable to non-Western contexts. Some strands of postcolonial theories are presented as the antithesis to that tradition, while revived interest in theories from the Global South or in Third Worldism provide yet another angle in the search for emancipation and liberation. This course is an introduction to global critical theory, a body of thought produced by thinkers from all around the world that starts with epistemological questions about conceptions of geographical space (what does it mean to speak about north and south, east and west? can there be a center in a globe?) and time (what does it mean to divide it into categories such as ancient, modern or contemporary?). Thinkers in the European tradition of critical theory, such as Adorno and Horkheimer, will be discussed and put to the challenge of ideas raised by thinkers from or of the Global South, such as He Chen, Mahdi Amel, Anibal Quijano, Gloria Anzaldua, and Maria Lugones, and intellectuals who have worked to span these artificial geographical divides, such as Frantz Fanon, Enrique Dussel, and Sylvia Wynter. We pay particular attention to the intersections of class, gender, race and “critical-colonial approaches," theories from decolonial, postcolonial, and settler colonial studies designed to build a critical theory of society by focusing on the persistence of our colonial past.

      • Word Origin, Wordplay, and Tragedy, GPHI 6767
        Gwen Grewal

        How do words signify things? The Ancient Greek tragedians used premonitory names to foreshadow the plot of tragic characters. Do everyday names, too, poetically foreshadow the nature of things? Does wordplay play a role in meaning? Are words natural extensions of things themselves? If the latter, do words tragically fail to capture what they signify by being other than what they signify? These are the issues explored in Plato’s Cratylus. We carefully read the dialogue in order to examine how words are attuned to or deflect from their referents, with an interest in the possible relationship of language to tragedy. Our study also includes excerpts from the work of Aristotle, Walter Benjamin, Emile Benveniste, and Martin Heidegger.

      • Foucault's Ethical Views, GPHI 6771
        Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

        Foucault's intellectual career is often divided into three periods: knowledge, power, and ethics. While scholars are largely in agreement about his work during the first two periods (i.e., about his views on knowledge and power), there is no consensus on his work in the third period: about his ethical views or what his contribution to philosophical thought on ethics might be. The goal of the seminar is to address this issue. Following Foucault's own claim that to the "absence of morality" characteristic of our times "must correspond the search for an aesthetics of existence," and since, as Arnold Davidson has noted, Foucault was usually his own best interpreter, our working hypothesis will be that the notion of the aesthetics of existence is the key to understanding Foucault's ethical project.
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