Philosophy | 19th Century Philosophy
P304 | 25325 | Shapshay


This course provides an introduction to Kant and four major
philosophers of the 19th century: Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard
and Nietzsche.  We will investigate their overarching metaphysical
systems as reactions to and developments of Kant’s ‘Copernican
Revolution.’  Kant ushered in an anthropocentric epistemology, which
placed strict limits on what can be known.  According to Kant, there
are two necessary ingredients for knowledge: 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, apart from our particular way of knowing it--the ‘thing-
in-itself’--is relegated to the merely thinkable, not knowable realm.
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.

Course readings include selections from: Kant’s Critique of Pure
Reason, and Critique of Judgment, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit,
Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Schopenhauer’s World as Will and
Representation, and Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy

Students will be required to write critical summaries of the readings
throughout the course, act as a discussion facilitator at least once
during the class, take a midterm and write a 10-page final paper.