Fall 2018 (Graduate)

PHI 7730 - 001 Kant's Third Critique CRN: 23921

Days: T from 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Instructor: Farshid Baghai

Our goal in this seminar is to investigate Kant’s philosophical account of aesthetics, teleology, and history. We do so by studying Kant’s Critique of the Power of Judgement (1790) as well as a number of his shorter texts on teleology and history. We start with brief selections from Critique of Pure Reason and Critique of Practical Reason in order to situate the third Critique within the critical system of reason as a whole. Next, we study the third Critique from cover to cover. Finally, we examine a number of Kant’s shorter texts, including “Of the different races of human beings” (1775), “Idea for a universal history with a cosmopolitan aim” (1784), “Review of J. G. Herder’s Idea for the philosophy of the history of humanity” (1785), “Determination of the concept of a human race” (1785), “Conjectural beginning of human history” (1786), “On the use of teleological principles in philosophy” (1788), “The end of all things” (1794), and “The conflict of the faculties” (1798

PHI 7910 - 001 Hegel's Phenom of Spirit CRN: 23922

Days:  M from 3:00 pm to 5:30
Instructor: William Desmond

The major purpose of this seminar is to read Hegel’s Phenomenology to get a sense of the work as a whole and the underlying dynamic and logic that inform it. It is a large and important work, considered by some to be one of the greatest works in the history of western philosophy. While we may not have time to discuss in detail all of it in class, students are asked to make an effort to read the text as a whole. In class we will look at some of the most important parts, with the following emphases:  First, simply trying to make sense of what Hegel is saying and what he intends. This means letting Hegel speak on his own terms.  Second,  formulating some sense of the development in specific parts, as well as of the movement of the work as a whole. Third, formulating some of the main questions  that arise in relation to Hegel’ s thinking in this work. This may mean raising questions in terms other than Hegel’s own.


1. G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V.Miller (Galaxy Books)
2. Jon Stewart (ed.), The Phenomenology of Spirit Reader (SUNY: 1997)
3. Wm Desmond, Hegel's God (Ashgate Publishers, 2003)

PHI 8220 - 001 Heidegger's Being/Time    CRN: 23923

Days: T from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Instructor: Walter Brogan

This course will focus primarily on Heidegger’s most influential and well-known work, Being and Time.  In the context of a reading of this work, we will also consult several of his courses given during the 1920’s that provide a background for understanding the issues raised by this text.  Good secondary sources to consult is Theodore Kisiel The Genesis of Being and Time (University of California Press) and  Magda King’s commentary (SUNY Press).  We will use the translation by Joan Stambaugh (SUNY Press) as our primary text, though I recommend also purchasing the older Macquarrie and Robinson translation (now in paperback from Harper) and a copy of the German text.  Richard Polt has a good collection of critical essays.  



PHI 8710 - 001 Sem: Black Aesthetics   CRN: 23924

Days: W from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Instructor: John Carvalho

What business do I have teaching a course on black aesthetics? That’s a good question. Of course, the question assumes there are conditions that would authorize my teaching such a course, but it is not clear what those conditions might be. In “Black Aesthetics,” we’ll be looking for a science of sensation that owes its sense to forms of life recurrent in black culture. We’ll look to authors like Paul Taylor to understand the complexity of that endeavor. What is black culture? What is black about black culture? The expression “forms of life,” borrowed from Taylor, is taken from Wittgenstein. How does it compare with what the phenomenological tradition calls a “life world?” How does it compare with what an enactivist calls an “environment?” In what environment using what skills might an enactivist credibly engage in a black aesthetics?

Black culture cannot be separated from the claims of white supremacy nor can it be reduced to a reaction formation in the face of those claims. Black culture is, obviously, not static. It is, rather, a form of life or an environment emergent in the lives of individuals and collectives who participate variously in its emergence. It turns up relative to the skills we have for picking up affordances in its environs. Consequently, it turns up differently for the different skills and refinements of those skills enacted by those individuals and collectives. In this seminar we will want to approximate the refined skills of those most vigorously engaged in black culture and black aesthetics, philosophers like Paul Taylor, Angela Davis and others, writers like Amiri Baraka, Fred Moten and others, artists like Kara Walker, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others, musicians like John Coltrane, Nina Simone and others, film makers like Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay and others, and so on. From so many resources, we can hope to understand how to make sense of black culture after the collapse of classical racialism.

Politics, radical politics, even, are certainly a part of black aesthetics, and we will give ample attention to the politics of the Black Art Movement and to the emergence of a black aesthetic starting with the black power movement of the 1970s, but we will also give ample attention to the contemplative side, and the funky side, of black aesthetics. We will consider the beauty and debasement of black bodies, the flow and rupture of hip hop and the aesthetics of soul: soul food, soul music and soul as a way of black life.

PHI 8710 - 002 Sem: Analytic Social Ontology   CRN: 23925

Days: R from 2:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Instructor: Georg Theiner

In this course, we survey recent work in social metaphysics within the analytic tradition, with the goal of gaining deeper insight into the ontology of the social world – conceived broadly to include facts about social objects (United Nations, #MeToo Movement), kinds and properties (mayor, unemployed), events and processes (Olympic Games, Brexit), states and relations (groupthink, oppression), institutions (family, prison), practices (helicopter parenting, potlucks), actions and attitudes (class-action lawsuits, collective intentionality), and artifacts (money, peer-to-peer networks). The metaphysical investigation of these facts is unified by a common theme: how exactly are individual people related to the social world? In what sense do they depend on one another, and the material and symbolic environments which they inhabit? In recent years, philosophers in the analytic tradition have developed a variety of frameworks and tools for thinking about these questions. In the first half of the course, we sneak up on our theme by considering two widely held “standard” views about social ontology: a) the view that social entities are “made up” of interacting people, in possibly emergent ways, much like traffic being made up of cars; and b) the view that social entities are rooted in “collective projections” of our attitudes onto the non-social world, such as certain pieces of paper being treated as dollar bills. After raising a host of problems for these views, we then work through an alternative “non-anthropocentric” view of social ontology as proposed by Brian Epstein and others.

In the second half of the course, we turn our attention to the ontology of social construction. Over the past few decades, the list of things that have been said to be “socially constructed” has expanded tremendously. Although these claims are made in different contexts, and different disciplines, a central thrust of social-constructionist explanations is to call into question the presumption that “the way things are” – e.g., concerning gender, race, disability – is fixed by the natural world, including human nature. By revealing how certain seemingly “natural” categories and distinctions are in fact produced by unacknowledged parts of the social world, social constructionists aim to show that they are not exempted from critique, and identify levers for ameliorative social change. Despite yielding important insights, the sheer diversity in how the term “social construction” is used, and what it is taken to imply, has produced much confusion and heated debates over the import and scope of social-constructionist claims (cf. the “science wars”). In our course, we strive to disentangle some of these conceptual knots, first by considering the vexed history of the term, and by distinguishing types and grades of social construction. We then examine the thesis – defended by Sally Haslanger, Ron Mallon, and others – that important varieties of social constructionism, without losing their critical edge, are compatible with significant forms of realism, objectivism about social kinds, and philosophical naturalism. In doing so, we also draw on extant work in psychology, cognitive science, and the philosophy of language to shed light on the plurality of mechanisms by which socially constructed kinds are produced and sustained. This will prompt a general reflection on the relationship between (what one might call) explanation-driven and justice-driven social metaphysics.
READINGS include (in alphabetical order):

·       Epstein, Brian (2015). The Ant Trap. Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences. Oxford University Press

·       Hacking, Ian (1999). The Social Construction of What? Harvard University Press

·       Haslanger, Sally (2012). Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique. Oxford University Press

·       Mallon, Ron (2016). The Construction of Human Kinds. Oxford University Press

·       Searle, John (2010). Making the Social World. Oxford University Press

·       Tollefsen, Deborah (2015). Groups as Agents. Polity Press

·       Wilson, Robert (under review), Relative Beings.

Additional readings will be made available online.

PHI 8830 - 001 Independent Study I CRN: 23926

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

PHI 8835 - 001 Independent Study II CRN: 23927

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

PHI 8870 - 001 Consortium I CRN: 23928

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

PHI 8875 - 001 Consortium II CRN: 23929

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

PHI 9010 - 001 Dissertation  CRN: 23930

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

PHI 9081 - 001 Dissertation Continuation   CRN: 23931

Instructor: Yannik Thiem

Prerequisite: PHI 9010