FILO Forskningsfag filosofi

Kursusindhold

Title:

(Ir)rationality / (Ir)rationalitet

Teacher:

Sabrina Ebbersmeyer (kursusånsvarlig)

Søren Gosvig

Kristian Høyer Toft

 

Course description:

 

Determining the scope and limits of reason is one of the fundamental concerns of Western philosophy. Yet, despite all our progress in technical and scientific fields, we have to admit that the irrational cannot be easily conquered and that we are still far away from a rule of reason. Indeed, the common assumption to oppose reason and rationality to, e.g. emotion, religion, or art and literature, became itself more and more questionable.

In this class, we will investigate the relation between reason and rationality on the one side and what is (or seems to be ) irrational on the other side, by focusing on selected influential historical positions (1), as well as on relevant theoretical (2) and practical (3) aspects of the problem in contemporary philosophy.

The aim of the course is that participants write a paper (11-15 pages) within one of the three topics of the course. Unlike assignments in most other courses, the paper should have the form and content suitable for a research contribution, that is, a paper to be published in a philosophy journal (of course, there is no requirement that the paper should actually be published). To assist and guide students in this, a central part of the course will be a writing workshop where we will focus on feed-back and challenges in the writing process.

The course will be organized as follows. First, we will have a common part where we introduce the general topics, provide instruction about writing processes, feed-back and literature search. Next, we will offer three consecutive and independent course parts, each introducing one of the main topics. The final part of the course will be organized as a joint writing workshop to facilitate the writing of the final exam paper.

Language of instruction: English and Danish

Assignments can be written in Danish or in English.

Background reading:

Lisa Bortolotti, Irrationality (2014)

Justin Smith, Irrationality: A History of the Dark Side of Reason (2019)

More detailed literature for each of the topics will be made available later on Absalon.

 

Topic 1. Emotions and rationality

To what extend do emotions contribute to rationality? How do we have to understand the relationship and the boundaries between the emotions and reason? While philosophers of all times have reflected on these and similar questions, it were precisely the philosophers of the so-called 17th century rationalism, who developed new and original answers to these questions. Criticizing the conceptions of the mind inherited from Platonic and Aristotelian traditions, philosophers such as Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz presented new theories, which allowed to consider the emotions as a natural and integral part of the mind. Still, the rationalists had to face huge challenges in explaining the benefits and the threats of emotions for rational thought and life forms.

This part of the class focuses on Descartes's work Passions of the Soul (1649) and two critics of Descartes' thought on the passions, namely Elisabeth of Bohemia (1618-1680) and Anne Conway (1631-1679). We will combine a close reading of a classical philosophical text from the early modern period with a broader discussion of other historical as well as contemporary philosophical approaches to the problem.

Literature:

Descartes, Passions of the Soul (1649)

Elisabeth of Bohmia, The correspondence with Descartes

Anne Conway, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690)

 

Topic 2. (U)fornuftig kommunikation

Hvad er det, der forhindrer kommunikation mellem mennesker i at lykkes og får diskussioner til at køre af sporet, og hvad formår filosoffer at belyse det med? Vi har vores logik, og mange filosoffer henviser bare til den. Men den første den bedste meningsudveksling viser, hvor lidt der kommer an på facts og argumenter. At beskrive, fortolke, vælge eksempler, metaforer, analogier, kontekst, alt muligt andet indgår som forudsætninger, vi ikke ser. Som filosoffer burde vi se på alt det. Og vi burde skærpe vores blik for det. Måske har vi været for lidt opmærksomme på, hvordan andre fagområder, genrer eller historiske erfaringer kan bidrage med perspektiver på fornuftens betingelser. I denne del af kurset vil der udgangspunkterne blive taget uden for filosofien. Kan vi f.eks. lære af filologernes lectio difficilior, når vi skal læse en tekst? Kan vi lære af skønlitterære forfatteres mottoer, kill your darlings! eller don’t tell it, show it! når vi skal skrive en? Eller hvad med de betingelser for diskursiv praksis, som sættes af journalistikkens og politikkens verden og dens behov for publikum som villige trikotøser? Eller af underteksten, alt det usagte, magtrelationerne i en given samtale? Eller at den demokratiske debat kommer an på, hvad den netop ikke skulle komme an på, persons anseelse? Så at argumentum ad hominem efterhånden netop regnes for den fornemste slags argumentation… Under de forskellige overskrifter vil der blive diskuteret eksempler fra hverdagen og materiale fra filosofien.

Pensumliste:

Simone Weil, Personen og det hellige (hele værket)

Hannah Arendt, Denktagebuch I-II (uddrag)

Lene Andersen, Både – Og I-VI (uddrag)

 

Topic 3. Spaces of practical reason (and irrationality) in liberal democracy.

The Enlightenment sapere aude dictum is supposedly coined to be understood as relevant primarily to the individual as rational and reasonable. Therefore, social entities such as groups, collective organizations and institutions can only derive rationality and reason from sources of the individual – for example through a democratic decision procedure to gain moral legitimacy. However, in liberal democracy, social fora are pre-conditions for a rational and reasonable dialogue and public deliberation, in fact, they can be seen as ‘spaces of practical reason’.

To explore current research and philosophical thinking on this topic, we will discuss and read literature on 1) how the individual is divided between private and public morality, 2) how groups might acquire a moral standing or become morally accountable agents, and 3) how the theory of deliberative democracy is challenged by strands of current political philosophy claiming that only the rational individual provides a basis for liberal democracy.

 

Engelsk titel

FILO Research Subject Contemporary Philosophy

Uddannelse

Kandidatuddannelsen i Filosofi, 2019-ordningen:

Kandidattilvalg på filosofi, 2019-ordningen

 

Målbeskrivelse

Ved prøven kan den studerende demonstrere:

 

Viden om og forståelse af

  • problemer og argumenter i en afgrænset diskussion i aktuel forskningslitteratur i teoretisk filosofi, praktisk filosofi, eller i aktuel filosofihistorie.
     
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Færdigheder i at

  • kontekstualisere aktuelle diskussioner i aktuel filosofi i forhold til klassiske filosofiske problemer.r

 

Kompetencer i at

  • deltage konstruktivt og kritisk i den aktuelle forskning, bl.a. ved at skrive korte forskningstekster.

Undervisningen består af forelæsninger eller holdundervisning, eller en kombination af disse, mundtlige øvelser og gruppediskussioner. Der vil være en ligelig fordeling af undervisningen mellem kursets tre fokusområder (teoretisk filosofi, praktisk filosofi og filosofihistorie).

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ECTS
15 ECTS
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