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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. Spring 2021 courses include:

      • Modern Deductive Logic, GPHI 5016
        Christopher Prodoehl, Part-time Faculty 

        The purpose of this course is to provide students with knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts of modern deductive logic, both in syntax and semantics. We start with sentential logic and discuss methods of constructing truth tables, truth trees, and derivations (for both the systems of SD and SD+). We then turn to predicate logic and consider certain differences and similarities between sentential and predicate logic and adjust the methods of truth trees and derivations to predicate logic.

      • Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit 2, GPHI 6022
        Jay Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy

        In the second half of this year-long study of Hegel's pivotal early work our focus will be on the chapter on "Spirit." In it Hegel proposes that reflective self-understanding of ourselves as modern, self-determining subjects is ahistorical accomplishment, and hence that philosophical self-consciousness is necessarily historically mediated. Central to his argument is his account of the Greek world represented in Sophocles' Antigone (against which a variety of feminist critiques have been lodged); the French Revolution and the Terror; the critique of the moral philosophies of Kant and Fichte (against which a variety of Kantian counters have been lodged). The course will then turn to Hegel's account of "Religion," which raises the question of whether Hegel's system is merely a philosophical interpretation of Christian revelation or an atheistic system whose core ideals are merely anticipated by Christianity. Finally, we shall study Hegel's account of "Absolute Knowing" (his ultimate defense of idealism against epistemological realism), and his conception of philosophy as"speculative" writing in the "Preface." Consideration of contemporary accounts of Hegel's idealism by Pippin, Brandom, and others will be a leitmotif of our reflections.

      • Plotinus, GPHI 6093
        Cinzia Arruzza, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        Plotinus has been neglected for a long time, especially in the English speaking world. However, in recent years he has been increasingly recognized as one of the most important, rigorous and original thinkers in Antiquity. This course will offer an overview of Plotinus' thought, devoting particular attention to his metaphysics, epistemology and his conception of the natural world. By reading a series of treatises from the Enneads, we will analyze Plotinus' position on many fundamental issues: the relation between unity and multiplicity and being and non-being, his theory of Intellect and his answer to the Skeptic challenge, his conception of matter, evil and physical objects, and his notion of vertical causality. One of the aims of this course will be to show how Plotinus' philosophy represents a first fundamental rupture in the history of metaphysics.

      • Pandemic Mysticism, GPHI 6125
        Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy

        In the wake of COVID-19, many of us have grown used to being hermits, socially distanced and advancing masked against a contaminated and untrustworthy reality defined by pestilence, suffering and death. In a world of contagion – possibly being contagious ourselves - we have followed a practice that the ancients called anachoreisis, a withdrawal into solitude, a retreat from the world. Whether we liked it or not, we all became anchorites or anchoresses. There is a strange asceticism to the world of lockdown and disease which opened us up to extreme experiences of doubt, dereliction, dreams, hypochondria, hallucination, and a desperate desire for love or a connection with something or someone outside or larger than the self. These experiences and emotion have profound historical and religious echoes with the logic, poetics and practices of mysticism. It is as if something elemental and primeval has been revived in the pandemic. Perhaps it is worth looking into. It seems to me, then, that this might be an opportune moment to study some mystical texts together and think about the nature of mystical experience. Such is the simple purpose of this seminar. In its attempts to articulate religious experience in thought, mysticism both borrows heavily from philosophy and undermines its standard procedures. What often results is a strange philosophy of contradictions, confessions, and enigmas. While not being blind to the many mystical traditions, we will focus on Christian mysticism, especially medieval texts, and especially those written by women. Authors that may be included are: Dionysius the Areopagite, Hadewych of Antwerp, Meister Eckhart, Marguerite Porete, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Angela of Foligno, and others. The seminar will also include selections from more recent authors inspired this tradition, for example William James, Bataille, Lacan, Michel de Certeau, Simone Weil, R.D. Laing, Caroline Bynum and Amy Hollywood. We will pay attention to the political dimension of these traditions that are focused around the odd phenomenon of mystical anarchism. And we will also pay attention to the relation of mystical experience to popular music in various forms.

      • Philosophy of History, GPHI 6591
        Dmitri Nikulin, Professor of Philosophy

        This course examines different philosophical approaches toward understanding of history in modernity. We will read the works of Kant, Hegel, Collingwood and Popper. Additional readings will include texts by Arendt, Momigliano, Nora, Heller, Yovel, and others.

      • Controversial Issues in Psychoanalysis, GPHI 6632
        Alan Bass, Part-time Faculty 

        This seminar will examine such major controversies in psychoanalysis as the nature of the unconscious, therapeutic action, the role of metapsychology, theories of sexuality and aggression, the relations to philosophy and science. Students are encouraged to contribute to this list of topics.
      • Hannah Arendt, GPHI 6686
        Jay Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, and Alice Crary, University Distinguished Professor

        This course will pursue a number of themes that are central to Arendt’s thinking including the human condition, labor, work, action, politics, power, thinking, willing and judging. We will roughly follow her intellectual development. Readings will include selections from The Jewish Writings, The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, On Revolution, Between Past and Future, Crises of the Republic, and The Life of the Mind.

      • Philosophy of Film, GPHI 6762
        Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

        This seminar is an introduction to the philosophy of film. Based primarily on Gilles Deleuze’s Movement-Image and Time-Image, and on Miriam Hansen’s and Susan Sontag’s writings on film, it will take the form of an interrogation on the relationship between screened moving images and philosophical thinking. In addition to weekly reading and writing assignments, seminar members will be expected to conduct and participate in weekly screenings and post-screening discussions.

      • Proofs of God's Existence and Their Failure, GPHI 6769
        Omri Boehm, Associate Professor of Philosophy

        Soon after God’s alleged death, the attempt to prove his existence became irrelevant to living philosophy. What had been a primary interest of earlier philosophy – even, at times, its basis – was left for theologians and historians of philosophy to worry about. This was both a cause and a consequence of a shift in religious-philosophical temperament; and it changed philosophy’s understanding of its most intimate terms: existence, the Absolute (the Infinite), proof, knowledge, belief, rationalism, belief etc. The aim of this course is to study the question of God’s existence—and the basic terms and doctrines associated with it—from a philosophical perspective. We will start by touching some general (theological/metaphysical/epistemological) questions about God, knowledge and proof; and soon move to considering in detail the proofs of God’s existence provided in medieval, early modern, and German philosophy (as well as the failure – or not? – of these proofs).

      • Environmental Ethics, GPHI 6770
        Jay Bernstein, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, and Alice Crary, University Distinguished Professor

        This seminar will focus on the ongoing destruction of nature from anthropogenic planetary climate change. This catastrophe poses a problem for which traditional ethical theories have left us ill-prepared, and attempts at dealing with it in the form of “applied ethics” have proved unhelpful. A productive engagement needs to start from a willingness to radically rethink the categories that we use to describe this historical moment and the resources we have to respond to it meaningfully. We will talk about how climate crisis has challenged not only engrained metaphysical understandings of the relation between nature and culture but also received understandings of moral notions such as justice, responsibility and blame. We will also consider how it brings into question familiar conceptions of political institutions such as markets, property, states. We will attempt this kind of transformative approach to climate crisis by reading widely—and in a fully interdisciplinary manner—in the literature. Seminar topics will include the Anthropocene, ecocide, ecofeminism, environmentalism and animal ethics, anthropocentric/biocentric/ecocentric environmental ethics, responsibility (i.e., who is responsible for change?), global justice, justice vis-a-vis future generations and questions of mitigation/adaptation/celebration of collapse (or collapsology).

      • Black Feminist Thought: Labor, Genealogy, Memory, GPHI 6774
        Romy Opperman, Postdoctoral Fellow

      • Psychoanalytic Bodies, GPHI 6775
        Jamieson Webster, Part-time Assistant Professor

        How does psychoanalysis think of the body? Are we a body or do we have a body? Can we make the body equivalent to the drive—what Freud called his speculative fiction at the limit of the somato-psychic? What is the difference between the erogenous body and the anatomical one composed of flesh, organs, fluids, and genitals? And what about the problem of distinguishing the difference between body and language—only vaguely resolved by the term “embodiment” or “materiality”? Is psychoanalysis itself, a work with a patient‘s body or their language? From Freud to Klein, Kristeva, Ferenczi, and Lacan, to Nancy, Foucault, Preciado, and others, we will search for the body in psychoanalysis. 

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