PHIL 425: Nineteenth Century Philosophy
Courses offered under this title deal with individual philosophers such as Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Feuerbach, Marx, and Engels, as well as overarching themes from this period of European philosophy.
PHIL 425: Nineteenth Century Philosophy: German Idealism
In this seminar we will examine several key philosophical texts of the German idealist tradition. We will begin with Kant’s late essay, “What Real Progress Has Metaphysics Made in Germany Since the Time of Leibniz and Wolff?” This summary of Kant’s critical philosophy will give us a touchstone against which to measure the innovations of the idealists. Our aim throughout the semester will be to assess the various idealist projects, and to consider, with Slavoj Žižek, what real progress – or regress – metaphysics has made since the time of Schelling and Hegel.
PHIL 425/399: Seminar: The Mature Kierkegaard and Philosophy
This seminar will consider the mature views of Kierkegaard regarding human nature, philosophy, and God. We will interpret and examine Kierkegaard on such existential topics as looking at one’s own moral condition, becoming psychologically sober, and facing human doubt about life and God. Part of our concern will be whether, and if so how, God’s existence is available to humans. The topic of volitional struggle (the striving of human will) will occupy us in this connection, as we relate the topic to the question of God’s availability to humans. The course will function as a seminar that gives a central role to student presentations and discussions.
We will focus on some writings of Kierkegaard that he signed with his own name rather than a pseudonym. Some of these writings are what Kierkegaard called “upbuilding discourses,” and they relate philosophical issues to existential, psychological themes. For instance, they take up the topics of giving and receiving, being human, experiencing anxiety, living in despair, and responding to love. Kierkegaard denies that we are mere spectators regarding the availability of God, and contends instead that we are agents with a complex psychological life. This will lead us to examine the roles of human reason, the human will, human passions, and unselfish love in the availability of God’s reality. We will consider whether our own will-based likes and dislikes are significant in our appropriating (or obscuring) God's reality. This will raise the question of whether a Gethsemane-like volitional struggle offers an Archimedean point for humans in search of God’s reality. The course will not presuppose any significant familiarity with the central problems of the theory of knowledge or the philosophy of religion.