Philosophy in the second half of the 20th century was faced with the demands of formulating an adequate response to the world after the second world war: the rise of different forms of totalitarianism, the horrors of the war itself and the role of technology in bringing this about became urgent issues. We will examine two forms of response to this situation. Firstly, we will examine how Critical Theory attempted to explain and move beyond the social contradictions that had been laid bare during this period. Following on from this, the question of the place of language in our relations with the world came to a central focus of attention, giving birth to the ideas of structuralism and post-structuralism. In this part of the course we will engage with the work of Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze.
Building upon the predictions concerning the ramifications of human activity on earth's resources, a pertinent question emerges: Can philosophy play any role in navigating this predicament? This course aspires to conjure such an intervention and sheds light on the intertwining of philosophy with the human relation to the Earth, a concern extending beyond the realms of present-day debates. Indeed, it reveals a deep-seated enigma that has been a constant companion of Western philosophy since its very dawn - what is the nature of the bond between thought and the Earth? Through an exhaustive exploration emphasising the Earth's enduring, yet often enigmatic, presence across the trajectory of philosophical debate, this course lays the foundation for a philosophical retort to the looming ecological reality. The course will traverse key philosophical texts, commencing with the pre-Socratic philosophers and the Stoics, and continuing through Plato and Aristotle; progressing to philosophers of the enlightenment such as Descartes, Leibniz, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant; and concluding with 19th and 20th-century thinkers like Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger, and Deleuze. Together, we will asses how the history of the concept 'Earth' has shaped our relation to the natural world, and the possibility of forging a new perspective, one which could pave the way towards a revitalized relationship with our environment, ultimately crafting a different future trajectory.
Explore some of the most important ideas, themes and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them out for yourselves.
French philosopher Alain Badiou is often recognized as the last living torchbearer of the influential 'May 68' generation that boasted figures like Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Derrida. Badiou's comprehensive philosophical interventions are highlighted by his magnum opus, Being and Event, a masterpiece that beautifully encapsulates and undermines the essence of French continental philosophy. Being and Event uniquely merges set theoretic mathematics with Lacanian psychoanalysis, interwoven with the sensitivity of Mallarmé's poetry and the intensity of post-Marxist political thought. Badiou's work, rich in depth and diversity, has sparked significant conversations and critical thinking in the philosophical community. This course offers a deep dive into Badiou's intellectual ecosystem, exploring the intricate intersections of diverging ideologies and thought systems converging in his work, focusing particularly on Being and Event and subsequent texts. We will also investigate his significant influence on leading contemporary philosophers, such as the provocative Slavoj Žižek, the insightful Bruno Bosteels, and the innovative Quentin Meillassoux. The impact of Badiou's thinking extends beyond his own work, creating ripples that continue to shape 21st century philosophical discourse.
In his ground-breaking works, Cinema 1: The Movement Image and Cinema 2: The Time Image, Gilles Deleuze intricately explores the symbiotic relationship between philosophy and cinema. According to Deleuze, throughout the twentieth century, both philosophers and filmmakers grappled with the concept of movement - filmmakers materialized it through images, while philosophers crystallized it into thought. Deleuze compellingly posits that the quintessential preoccupation of both philosophers and filmmakers is the enigma of time's movement. The philosophical questions surrounding time's fluidity are pivotal - What does being ensnared in time's flow signify? How can we comprehend this ceaseless movement? Given the transitory nature of the present, what is its true reality? If the present lacks conventional reality, how can the past or future exist, as the former was once present, and the latter is destined to become so? In Deleuze's philosophy of cinema, these questions are far from abstract. They gain tangible significance expressed through the filmmaker's imagery and the philosopher's concepts. This course invites an exploration of these time paradoxes (and many other metaphysical and political questions that follow these paradoxes) as elucidated in Deleuze's Cinema volumes. It will refer to a broad range of cinematic examples, anchoring our philosophical discourse in specific cases.
This course covers an investigation into some of the perennial thinkers and topics within philosophical aesthetics within the Western tradition: It is structured broadly in two parts, the first looking at the thoughts and theories on art provided within the philosophies of 6 key thinkers within this tradition: Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche and Heidegger; the second on some central issues within contemporary philosophy debates within the philosophy of art, such as the definition of art and artworks, the different art forms, meaning in art, fakes and forgeries, and art criticism and appreciation. In doing so it will not only address the contemporary relevance of the thought of historical thinkers, but will also address some key historical and contemporary philosophy, ranging beyond aesthetics, and touching on the philosophy of language, logic, culture, politics, history, ontology and epistemology.
It is not uncommon to hear today calls for a defence of and a return to Enlightenment values: but what exactly were they? The flourishing of the natural sciences from the 17th Century onward brought about not just an entirely new conception of the nature of the world but also a radical rethinking of the nature of reason itself, which in turn had profound implications for our understanding of the self and of society. But rather than a celebration of the serene progress of triumphant reason, the Enlightenment itself might be better understood as a series of crises. We will explore the myriad of issues these developments raise through an examination of the great thinkers of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries.
Explore some of the most important ideas, themes and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them our for yourselves.
One unexpected outcome of the Enlightenment period was the rise of nihilism, a crisis of finding any real meaning in the emerging scientific worldview. The development of the new philosophical movement of phenomenology can be seen as, in part, a response to this crisis. Husserl sought to analyse the role of consciousness in constituting meaning in experience in a way which united our daily experience of the world with the scientific world view. The approach he developed was swiftly challenged in the name of a more embodied and historically situated account of meaning by the work of Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. This course will explore how the emergence of phenomenology as a philosophical method came to be inextricably linked to the wider issue of Existentialism as a response to the urgent problems of the 20th Century.
Explore some of the most important ideas, themes, and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them out for yourselves.
This course will cover a very old idea that has lost none of its relevance in modern times. The problem of evil is usually understood to be first and foremost a theological matter - how can a good God permit terrible things to happen? Doesn't the existence of evil demonstrate that God does not exist? - but the discussion of evil has in fact taken many forms. This course will examine evil, and its existence (or otherwise), from multiple angles - as a philosophical definition, as a problem for political systems, as a construction of man, and as an aesthetic and psychological concern. In a rational world, what place is there for evil? Why do we persist in using the word even when our metaphysical or religious frameworks for invoking it no longer exist? Philosophers included in the course: Arendt, Augustine, Bataille, Kant, Leibniz, Midgley, Nietzsche, Plantinga, Plotinus, de Sade