The Panorama of Philosophy: Philosophy in the Modern World

In modern times, German thinkers took up the mantle of Greek philosophy. we encounter an unbroken succession of speculative systems seeking to account for the scientific, technological, metaphysical and political upheavals of our era.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Kant and Pure Reason. With Kant, the human mind moves to the forefront of philosophy. To solve this problem required another, a second ‘Copernican Revolution’—moving the observer from his privileged nest and identifying the structure of thinking and perceiving. We can only have knowledge of phenomena. These are things which occupy space and appear in time. They are intuitions our mind imposes on the world, for us to collect information and understand it. And more to the point: Know ourselves, and the ground of our capacity to understand.
  • Hegel and the Social Evolution of Mind. With Hegel, another new perspective opens up. The mind is not an organ or process, but a capacity with an evolutionary history. Our self-understanding can only be helped if we grasp these two features: That mind is an instrument of social intercourse, and its growth runs in parallel with the evolution of societies. Accordingly Hegel’s method is to trace the ascent of the collective mind through history. Necessarily politics stands at the centre of his enquiries.
  • Schopenhauer: The Last Great Metaphysical System. What kind of an animal is man? What are the forces that animate living things; and how does man’s intellect and reflexive intelligence affect life? Schopenhauer does not see our thinking capacity as a blessing. He was the first philosopher whose pessimism put him on a search for redemption without religion. Rather, he found it in art and became the first thinker who taught that art is the real signature of mankind.
  • A Century of Political Revolution (from Rousseau to Marx). The 150 years from the Enlightenment to World War I were marked by several bloody revolutions. They represent the death throes of dynasticism and the birth pangs of democracy. Philosophers from Rousseau to Hegel, Tocqueville, Mill and Marx stood out with their doctrines which deeply influenced the development of modern states.
  • Cultural Revolutions: Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud. Human culture is shaped by forces that may be philosophical, but the impulse may come from other sources. Darwin and Freud made significant discoveries which belong into this context. Nietzsche, although a philosopher, was predominantly concerned with the morals of over-affluent societies, which he saw as impeding human growth to its full potential.
  • Philosophy of Human History: Spengler. Mankind can only be properly understood through its history. Hegel pointed the way with his Philosophy of History; but it was Spengler who identified the underlying impulses which make communities grow into empires. Moreover, there are clearly discernible patterns to these developments, which tend to repeat themselves and contain lessons for our own civilisation.
  • The Indian Summer of German Philosophy: Heidegger, Adorno, Wittgenstein, Arendt. Even a scientific civilisation cannot provide answers to every question. What is the meaning if Being? Is our Enlightenment legacy truly progressive or conducive to parasitism on the grand scale? What kind of an animal is man with his self-reflexive intelligence and articulate speech? Is our civilisation making itself a victim of self-inflicted evil? Such issues keep philosophy alive, as science is revealed incapable of illuminating our subjective estate.
  • The Pride and Sorrow. The trend of late 20th century thinking has emphasised life itself and the ramifications of human intelligence. In this last session we focus on these issues, which may be the questions to which we most urgently need to find intelligible answers. In our conclusion, we assess the entire panorama of philosophy and its impact on over 2000 years of civilisation.
$232 Limited / $209

<p>In modern times, German thinkers took up the mantle of Greek philosophy. we encounter an unbroken succession of speculative systems seeking to account for the scientific, technological,

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30 Jan

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