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PI208B: History of Philosophy II

  • Contact Hours: 11 hours of lectures and 10 hours of tutorials in Michaelmas term
  • Lecturers: Prof. Lilian Alweiss (email) and Prof. Vasilis Politis (email)
  • ECTS: 5
  • Semester 1

Module Outline for Semester 1

Component 1: Kant (Prof. Lilian Alweiss)

This unit will consider Kantʼs Copernican revolution in epistemology and metaphysics and his distinctive form of idealism. In particularly we shall be focusing on his account of space and time; his account of the relation between a priori and empirical knowledge and his response to scepticism.
The set-text for this unit is:
Immanuel Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Kemp Smith, Macmillan.
At the end of this component students will be able to critically evaluate central features of Kant’s tanscendental idealism.

Component 2: Nietzsche and Kierkegaard (Prof. Vasilis Politis)

The aim of these lectures is to study and critically discuss one of Friedrich Nietzsche’s last works, and perhaps his greatest work: Beyond Good and Evil (1886). We will also be making some reference to the work he wrote soon after, On the Genealogy of Morals (1887), which he wrote to complement and clarify Beyond Good and Evil. We shall combine a careful reading of Beyond Good and Evil, based on selected passages, with a thematic approach based on exegetical and critical questions. We shall also read one or two pieces of secondary literature, drawing on the excellent collection of papers in: Simon May (ed.), Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality, Cambridge, 2011.
We shall concentrate on the following themes and questions:

  • What is the target of Nietzsche’s ‘battle’ in Beyond Good and Evil? Is the battle against Platonism and Christianity as important as Nietzsche thinks?
  • What positive gains does Nietzsche hope to achieve through the battle with Platonism and Christianity?
  • What does Nietzsche mean by ‘beyond good and evil’?
  • How can something be beyond good and evil and at the same time be good, even supremely good?
  • How does he argue that we should go beyond good and evil?
  • How does Nietzsche think about love? Why is love so important to him?
  • Why does he think that love is beyond good and evil?
  • How, and in what different and diverse ways, does Nietzsche characterize the distinction between the noble disposition and the slavish disposition?
  • Why does he think this distinction is ‘basic’ and that these two types of dispositions are ‘basic’?
  • What does he mean by the claim that the distinction between good and bad takes on a different meaning depending on whether it is made from the perspective of the noble disposition or it is made from the perspective of the slavish disposition?
  • What does he mean by the claim that the noble disposition is ‘creative of value’ (‘werteschaffend’)?
  • What are the key elements in Nietzsche’s method in philosophy?
  • To what extent, and in what sense, is his method in philosophy naturalist?
  • To what extent, and in what sense, is his method in philosophy anti-dogmatic and sceptical?
  • Why does he think the philosopher is a creator of value?