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Issues in 19th-Century German Philosophy

Intermediate—Year

One of philosophy’s abiding preoccupations is the nature of human knowledge. This will be the focus of our seminar, as we study Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit in the fall semester and, in the spring, turn to one among the following later thinkers: Kierkegaard, Marx, Zilberman, Heidegger. The Phenomenology is an extraordinary, difficult, immensely exciting, deeply influential text; we will examine both the authority and the problems Hegel’s philosophical construction posed for his successors. One important reason to study Hegel’s thought is its pervasive influence on the horizon of contemporary debates on issues of knowledge and diversity, insofar as these debates have been lastingly defined by Hegel’s heirs and ciritcs. In our reading of the Phenomenology and the texts that follow, we will aim not only to grasp the significance and the rich legacy of Hegel’s philosophical enterprise, but also to articulate the ways in which the plurality of philosophical constructions is itself a problem for philosophical reflection on the nature of human knowledge.