Post Grad 2016
Paper 1: Moral Sprouts & Natural Teleologies (Vermaak)
This course is an exercise in comparative philosophy. We examine the idea that morality is grounded in human psychology. We compare two major ancient versions of this model – Aristotle’s natural teleology and Mengzi’s moral sprouts – with the contemporary moral modularity hypothesis. We read Owen Flanagan, Moral Sprouts and Natural Teleologies: 21st Century Moral Psychology Meets Classical Chinese Philosophy (The Aquinas Lecture, 2014), Aristotle, Mengzi and contemporary philosophers.
Paper 2: Critical Theory (Okeja)
The main aim of this course is to probe into the foundations, aims and methods of critical theory. We will examine the development of this tradition of thought by probing into the life and texts of its central figures such as Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Eric Fromm and Herbert Marcuse. Efforts will be made to determine what exactly the idea of critical theory means, how it differs from other methods of doing philosophy and what it can contribute to the understanding of contemporary societies. These goals will be pursued through discussion of the key concepts (such as reification, alienation, critique, emancipation, dialectics and revolution) and careful analysis of texts dealing with critical theory’s Marxist background, its analysis of the fate of enlightenment, the transformation of the public sphere, the social theories of Herbart Marcuse (one dimensional man) and Eric Fromm (Sane Society) and the evolution of critical theoretic discourse in the Global South. Overall, we will try to determine in this course if critical theory is an adequate response to Karl Marx’s charge that philosophers have only interpreted the world in different way but the point is to change it.
Paper 3: Historical Materialism & South African Post-coloniality (Alloggio)
Historical materialism is a philosophical approach that focuses on material conditions in order to explain how history, philosophy and society develop. In the mid nineteenth-century, Karl Marx created and systematised such an approach when he moved from the Hegelian notion of Spirit (Geist) to labour and production relations as the fundamental forces in determining economic, social and intellectual life. But material and economic changes (structure) do not happen in a vacuum; human beings develop and experience them via ideological apparatuses, namely, political, legal, philosophical, religious, educational and artistic institutions (superstructure). It is in these ideological forms that human beings become conscious of how conflicts between social classes shape and transform history. In this course, we will briefly explore Hegel’s philosophy, we will then engage with the seminal works of Marx and Engels on historical materialism. We will also focus our attention on a number of classic texts on ideology, including György Lukács, Antonio Gramsci and Louis Althusser. Lastly, we will analyse the material and ideological conditions of post-apartheid South Africa, drawing on the works of Pumla Dineo Gqola, Karl von Hold and Suren Pillay.
*Understanding Domination (Dr Fluxman)
*”Civil” society and social movements in South Africa (Mr Wesley Seale)
*Frantz Fanon: A critical Introduction (Dr Pithouse)
Paper 4: The Critique of Pure Reason (Bloom)
This course will focus entirely on a close reading of one book: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. There are few works that can match the historical significance of the CPR. However we will not focus on the historical significance of the text nor will we focus on abstracting any particular theme or issue. Rather, we will focus on reading the text on its own terms and we will place particular emphasis on the issues that the text itself raises and try to determine, for ourselves, whether or not the text treats those issues adequately. Briefly, the central issue of the text is that of the nature and limitations of our faculty of reason. It is no small matter that the nature and limitations of reason are to be investigated by reason itself. Can reason critique itself? If it can, what does this very fact tell us about reason? The idea of “self-critique” and the way in which reason is—or is not—able to engage in it is a major focus of the text and will be a major focus of this course.
Paper 5:Trust and Mistrust (Flockemann)
Suppose you want to find out whether p. What is the best way to go about doing this, and what are the chief dangers to watch out for? The lesson that seems to come across from mainstream analytic epistemology is that the best method is to perform an independentinquiry, relying ultimately and only upon your own assessment of the evidence, and the chief danger to watch out for is the peril of falsehood – of arrive at a false conclusion as to whether p. The ideal epistemic agent, then, is someone who is (among other things) independent and mistrustful – accepting only the dictates of their own reason. However, some recent work in epistemology has suggested that trust is far more central to our epistemic lives than this picture would suggest. In many cases, it is argued, the best way to find out whether p is to depend entirely on other people’s assessment of the evidence rather than your own, and that excessive mistrust of others is as much a danger as excessive trust. Some, like Miranda Fricker, argue that excessive mistrust in others can sometimes constitute a profound moral harm, and others, like Linda Zagzebski and John Hardwig, argue that excessive mistrust can sometimes constitute a problematic epistemic solipsism. In this course we will explore some of this philosophical work on trust, with the aim of making sense of the picture of epistemic rationality that emerges from it.
Paper 6:Scholastic Metaphysics (Williamson)
This course is a tour through some of the main metaphysical issues which occupied the medieval philosophers. We discuss the notions of causation, substance, modality, identity, teleology, essence and existence, among others, in order to see how the scholastic schema continues to influence contemporary debate and, in many instances, provides a serious and worthy alternative to the many stale and unprofitable dogmas of modern philosophy. We read Edward Feser’s new book: Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction.
Paper 7: Gender (Kelland)
*Politics of Collective Action (Dr Fluxman)
*Community, Justice and Freedom (Dr Chachine)
*South Africa’s Contested Order (Prof Friedman)