Seminars by Faculty of the University of Chicago

The Philosophy Department at the University of Chicago offers a wide array of seminars on topics in German Philosophy taught by faculty both in and affiliated with the Department. Below is a list of the seminars to be taught by our faculty during the academic year 2020/21 that might be of interest to students with a research focus in German Philosophy.

Autumn Quarter 2020

Philosophy 35708.  Wittgenstein: Early and Late.

The course is devoted to the unity and the disunity in the evolution of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. We shall question the prevalent view that the later work radically breaks with the earlier. In accord with Wittgenstein’s own advance we shall study the Philosophical Investigations in light of the Tractatus, and the Tractatus from the perspective of the Philosophical Investigations. We shall also look at some of Wittgenstein’s writing from the thirties (e.g., The Big Typescript). I. Kimhi

Open to undergrads – register in Philosophy. (W 1:50-4:40pm, to be taught on line)

PHIL 20610/30610 (HIST 25304, HIST 35304, GRMN 25304, GRMN 35304, HIPS 26701, CHSS 31202, FNDL 25315) Goethe: Literature, Philosophy, Science
This course will examine Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s intellectual development, from the time he wrote Sorrows of Young Werther through the final states of Faust. Along the way, we will read a selection of Goethe’s plays, poetry, and travel literature. We will also examine his scientific work, especially his theory of color and his morphological theories. On the philosophical side, we will discuss Goethe’s coming to terms with Kant (especially the latter’s third Critique) and his adoption of Schelling’s transcendental idealism. The theme uniting the exploration of the various works of Goethe will be unity of the artistic and scientific understanding of nature, especially as he exemplified that unity in “the eternal feminine.” R. Richards

German would be helpful, but it is not required.

Winter Quarter 2021

PHIL 35709 (SCTH 35709) Anxiety and Nothingness

Anxiety is discussed in modern philosophy as a mood which by contrast to fear is not directed to an object and thus reveals the “nothing” which dominates our engagement with beings. The class will be devoted to the modern philosophical discourse on “anxiety” and “nothing.”

Among the texts that we shall study are: Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics, and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. We shall also compare the philosophical concern with anxiety/nothing with the discussion of anxiety in psychoanalysis, especially in Lacan’s Seminar Anxiety, (i.e., Seminar 10). I. Kimhi
PHIL 41815 Political Philosophy: Hume, Rousseau, the 1844 Marx

Kant is a watershed in political philosophy (as he is everywhere).  This often means that earlier work gets read as “pre-Kantian.”  In this course we will look at central texts by Hume and Rousseau in order to understand them in their own terms.  We will connect these writers to another non-Kantian, the early Marx.  The goal is to find, develop and assess ways of thinking of the tasks of political philosophy that do not presuppose a Kantian framework. D. Brudney

PHIL 51830 (LAWS 53256) Advanced Topics in Moral, Political & Legal Philosophy: Social & Political Philosophy of Hegel and Marx

We will focus on Hegel’s philosophy of history and its influence on Marx’s historical materialism; and on Hegel’s critique of Christianity in the Early Theological Writings and also in the Phenomenology and its relation to Marx’s early theory of human nature in the 1840s and his critique of ideology. (I) M. Forster, B. Leiter

PHIL 54806 (SCTH 50300) Heidegger’s Concept of Metaphysics 
The two basic texts of the course will be Heidegger’s 1929-30 lecture course, “Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics,” and his 1935 course (published in 1953), “Introduction to Metaphysics.” Both texts amount to a radical critique of all Western metaphysics, and an equally radical proposal for a new beginning, another sort of “first philosophy.” He wants to claim that the finitude of all a priori reflection, when properly appreciated, can inaugurate a proper interrogation of the fundamental question in philosophy: the meaning of being. To familiarize ourselves with Heidegger’s overall project, we will begin by reading selections from his 1927 Marburg lectures, “The Basic Problems of Phenomenology.” R. Pippin
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The course is designed for graduate students in philosophy and related disciplines, but some undergraduates with a sufficient background in the history of philosophy will be admitted. Undergraduates with permission of the instructor.

Spring Quarter 2021

PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant’s “critical” philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy.  We will trace the effects of this revolution and the responses to it, focusing on the changing conception of what philosophical ethics might hope to achieve.  We will begin with a consideration of Kant’s famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, in which the project of grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of rational freedom is announced.  We will then consider Hegel’s radicalization of this project in his Philosophy of Right, which seeks to derive from the idea of rational freedom, not just formal constraints on right action, but a substantive conception of the proper organization of our social and political lives.  We will conclude by examining some important critics of the Kantian/Hegelian project in ethical theory: Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass, and Friedrich Nietzsche. M. Boyle

PHIL 22220/32220 (FNDL 22220) Marx’s Capital, Volume I

We will study the first volume of Karl Marx’s Capital, attempting to understand the book on its own terms and with minimal reference to secondary literature. (A) (I) A. Ford

PHIL 51702 (SCTH 50301) Heidegger’s Critique of German Idealism

The texts we will read: Heidegger’s 1929 book, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, his 1935 course, published as the book What is a Thing, the critique of Hegel published in 1957, Identity and Difference, and the 1942/43 lectures published as Hegel’s Concept of Experience.  We will conclude with a discussion of Heidegger’s 1936 lectures, Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom.

The topic of the course: finitude. R. Pippin
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Students who have taken the winter quarter seminar on Heidegger will be given priority, but that is not a necessary condition of admission to the seminar. Grad students only.

PHIL 53915 Wittgenstein and Skepticism
(III) D. Finkelstein