Incoming Study Abroad students must have already taken two Philosophy modules at their home institution.
Broadly speaking, however, Existentialism is unified by the belief that human existence cannot be adequately understood using the categories provided by the philosophical tradition or the natural sciences. In light of this belief, many existentialists were committed to profound disruptions in the style in which philosophy is to be practiced – turning to poetry and literature to capture the nature of the human instead.
Existentialism is also unified in its commitment to take seriously the first-person quality of experience – arguing that purely third-personal categories fail to capture the nature of human existence as it is lived. For this reason Existentialism has close ties to Phenomenology, which is a philosophical methodology defined by its insistence on examining meaning as it is experienced first-personally in order to uncover the structural necessities governing the possibility of those meaningful experiences.
Briefly put, Phenomenology questions how experience can show up as meaningful. This module is dedicated to one or both of these philosophical approaches and/or the relationship between the two.
This term will be devoted to an in-depth study of Emmanuel Levinas' magnum opus, Totality and Infinity, in which phenomenology and its major proponents – Husserl and Heidegger - are both critiqued and put to work to justify Levinas' central claim: that `ethics is first philosophy.` Namely, that the primal event of encountering another person is both foundational and transformative for human experience as we know it.
This approach thereby brings metaethical themes to bear on issues in the philosophy of mind and challenges key presuppositions of philosophical methodology. Topics will include the manner in which Levinas` philosophy can be considered a development (or abandonment) of the phenomenological tradition; the role played by enjoyment and the body; the relationship between the `totality` and the individual, the notion of the `feminine`, and the origins and structure of justice.