Philosophy III is a year-long course comprised of four, distinct term-long classes. Three of these are lecture/tutorial courses, the other (in 3rd Term) is a small-class, seminar-based course.
1. Term 1: Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals (Prof T. Martin)
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 -1900) is one of the most controversial and
influential figures in Western philosophy. The aim of this course is to make a
first attempt at understanding and evaluating some of Nietzsche’s
characteristic philosophical positions, such as his attack on Western morality,
his proposed “perspectivism”, genealogical method, and “philosophy of the
future”, through a close reading of On the Genealogy of Morals, in conjunction
with other primary and secondary material.
Text: Friedrich Nietzsche, Basic Writings of Nietzsche (Modern Library, 2000) [available from Van Schaik Booksellers, High Street, Grahamstown].
2. Term 2: Darwin & Human Nature (Prof M. Vermaak)
The course is an introduction to philosophical method. It focuses on the debate about the implications of evolutionary biology for our view of human nature: If Darwin is right, what then? It covers topics from the entire range of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, logic and ethics. We read Janet Radcliffe Richards, Human Nature after Darwin: A Philosophical Introduction(2000)
3. Term 3: Options (Vice, Jones, Williamson, Vermaak)
Students choose one from a set of options:
Dr. S. Vice - Options, either:
This course looks at beauty and its place in aesthetics and ethics. We read both classic and modern texts and explore the following questions: What is beauty? Is beauty essential to something’s being a work of art? What is the connection between beauty and goodness? In what way is beauty valuable? Or: Is it valuable at all and why should we care about it? Is beauty universal and politically neutral?
Readings will be provided.
* Liberalism and the Challenges of Multiculturalism
This is a course in political philosophy. Liberalism is concerned with protecting the equal freedoms of all citizens. In order to do so it commits itself to neutrality: the state should not favour any one conception of the good life over others. This conception of liberalism has come under pressure from minority and disadvantaged groups which call for special rights that acknowledge their particular identity and challenges. This course explores how liberalism has dealt with the challenges posed by what has been called the multicultural ‘politics of recognition’. How can liberalism maintain its commitment to neutrality and yet equally respect the identities of all citizens?
Readings will be provided.
Prof M. Vermaak - Options, either:
Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, based on lectures that he gave in Athens in the 4th century BC, is one of the most significant works in moral philosophy. It offers seminal, practically oriented discussions of many central ethical issues, including virtue and happiness, the role of luck in human lives, moral education, responsibility, courage, justice, moral weakness, friendship and pleasure.
Required Text: Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, translated & edited by Roger Crisp (Cambridge University Press, 2000)
In the course on Darwin & Human Nature (Term 2) it was argued that a Darwinian evolutionary understanding of human nature does not imply that ethics is impossible. In this course we take the debate a step further and examine what a fully naturalistic ethics would look like.
Readings will be announced.
Ayn Rand’s Objectivist Philosophy (Mr. F. Williamson)
This course involves a critical assessment of some of Ayn Rand’s central philosophical claims. It focuses primarily on a central philosophical text, most notably John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged, but it also engages various essays and articles from her various writings. Some of the pertinent themes we will be covering are these: human nature and the role of rationality, virtue and rational self-interest, the nature of value, the value and nature of art, the nature of love and sex, labour and the economy, the role and nature of the state, individual liberty and the goal of a human life.
4. Term 4: Philosophy of Mind (Mr. F. Williamson)
We read Jaegwon Kim’s book Physicalism, or Something Near Enough. In this book Kim presents his case against the non-reductivist type of physicalism which is still the dominant position today, and argues for a version of reductive physicalism which, he thinks, is good enough. But it still has problems, and our quest is to determine whether these problems are enough to sink the physicalist project in favour of some other non-physicalist or anti-physicalist scheme.
Lecture times and venue
All lectures will be held in Zoology Minor 02. Lectures will begin on Wednesday the 16th of February.
Lectures will be on Monday Periods 7 & 8, Wednesday Period 2, Thursday Period 3 & Friday Period 4.
There are weekly group tutorials in Terms 1, 2 & 4. Tutorial times will be arranged each term.
Assessment is by way of examinations and essays