Philosophy | 19th Century Philosophy
P304 | 28099 | Shapshay

This course provides an introduction to Kant and three major
Continental philosophers of the 19th century: Hegel, Schopenhauer,
and Nietzsche.  We will investigate their overarching metaphysical
systems as reactions to and developments of Kant’s ‘Copernican
Revolution’ the legacy of which is still felt today in epistemology,
ethics and aesthetics.  Kant ushered in an anthropocentric
epistemology, which placed strict limits on what can be known. There
are two necessary ingredients for knowledge in the Kantian system:
concepts and corresponding intuitions.  What we can know, however,
is conditioned by our peculiarly human way of knowing.  By contrast,
the world as it is in itself, the noumenal realm, apart from our
particular way of knowing it--the ‘thing-in-itself’--is relegated to
the merely thinkable, not knowable. The history of 19th century,
Western, Continental philosophy can be characterized as a series of
attempts to go beyond Kant’s limits, to gain ‘absolute’
or ‘unconditioned’ knowledge of the world as it is in itself.

Special emphasis will be given in this course to the increasingly
important role that art and aesthetic experience played for these
philosophers in gaining an insight into the world as it is in
itself, culminating in Nietzsche’s rather shocking thought that “the
existence of the world is justified only as an aesthetic
phenomenon.” Never before in the history of philosophy had art been
given such importance.