Recent Courses Taught Outside the United Statesby James Conant
Kirchberg am Wechsel
11th Wittgenstein Summer School 2015
James Conant, Cora Diamond and Martin Gustafsson co-taught the 11th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School on the topic of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus. The Summer School took place from the 30th of July to the 3rd of August, 2019 in Kirchberg am Wechsel in Lower Austria. The event was sponsored by the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Institute. For more information, click here.
7th Wittgenstein Summer School 2015
James Conant and Cora Diamond co-taught the 7th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summer School on the topic of Wittgenstein on Following a Rule: Philosophical Investigations, Sections 185 – 242. The Summer School took place from the 5th to the 8th of August, 2015 in Kirchberg am Wechsel in Lower Austria. The event was sponsored by the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Institute. This Summer School is devoted to a close reading of sections 185 to 242 of the Philosophical Investigations and closely related writings from the Nachlass. For more information, click here. Recordings of the summer school can be accessed here.
5th Wittgenstein Summer School 2013
James Conant and Cora Diamond co-taught the 5th Ludwig Wittgenstein Summerschool from the 7th to the 10th of August 2013 in Kirchberg am Wechsel in Lower Austria. The event is sponsored by the the International Ludwig Wittgenstein Institute. This Summer School is devoted to a close reading of sections 89 to 133 of the Philosophical Investigations and closely related writings from the Nachlass, especially the earlier draft of those sections found in the Philosophy chapter of The Big Typescript. Recordings of the Kirchberg summer school can be accessed by clicking here. For more information about this event, click here.
Why Kant is not a Kantian
The course seeks to show how a proper understanding of the structure of the B Deduction—the philosophical lynchpin of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason—reveals its aim to be one of making sense of our capacities for sensibility and understanding in the light of each other: each is shown to depend on its relation to the other to be the sort of faculty that it is in a finite rational being. For more information, click here.
University of Helsinki
Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus April 2000.
The focus of the course is on evaluating and advancing ongoing debates in the contemporary secondary literature concerning how best to interpret the overall aims, methods, and doctrines of the Tractatus. Some attention will also be given to the following topics: Wittgenstein’s early criticisms of the views of Frege and Russell, the history of the reception of the Tractatus in Anglo-American philosophy, the relation between Wittgenstein’s pre-Tractatus writings and the Tractatus itself, and the relation between Wittgenstein’s early and later thought. Readings will include texts by Frege, Russell, Ramsey, Carnap, Anscombe, Geach, McGuiness, Hacker, Goldfarb, Ricketts, Diamond, Kremer, Sullivan, White, and Floyd. (III) Winter 2008. Syllabus
Amiens, Université de Picardie Jules Verne
McDowell, Putnam, and Travis on Perception, October 2007.
The course is a comparison of the views of three leading philosophers presently working on central topics in the philosophy of perception, each of whom takes his work in this area to be building on the insights of the later Wittgenstein and each of whom has a different understanding of the implications of those insights for the philosophy of perception.
Paris, Collège de France
Kant & Analytic Kantianism, June 2003.
The lectures are on Kant and on the reception of the Kantian philosophy in the analytic philosophical tradition. The lectures offer both an overview of central questions in the interpretation of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction and of some of the most difficult questions in epistemology and philosophy of mind in twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy. In tandem with exploring the question how best to understand the task and structure of Kant’s argument in the Transcendental Deduction, we look at the views of Moritz Schlick on the question of the relation between sensibility and understanding, and then proceed to an examination of the treatment of this question in the following texts: C. I. Lewis’s Mind and the World Order, Wilfrid Sellars’s classic essay Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind , and in recent work by Robert Brandom and John McDowell (especially Brandom’s Study Guide to Sellars and McDowell’s Woodbridge LecturesHaving the World in View: Sellars, Kant, and Intentionality). The lectures explore how best to understand the following generically Kantian thought: There are two independent sources of knowledge – sensibility and understanding – each of which is a necessary and neither of which is a sufficient condition of knowledge. It will be shown that this generically Kantian thought can be unpacked in very different ways, leading to diametrically opposed philosophical conceptions. The lectures are concerned to explore the dialectical space of options that open up here by exhibiting the interrelationships between these alternative conceptions and the parallel manner in which this dialectic has unfolded within the history of Kant interpretation, on the one hand, and within the history of analytic epistemology and philosophy of mind, on the other.
Berlin, Humboldt Universität
Wittgenstein on Following a Rule & the Foundations of Mathematics, Summer Semester 2016. Co-taught with Jonathan Beere
The course involves a close reading of the following three texts by Wittgenstein: (1) Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cambridge, 1939; (2) Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, Parts I, III, IV, VI; and (3) Philosophical Investigations, §§ 142 to 242.
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, SIAS Summer Institute
Frankfurt a. M.
Philosophische Untersuchungen, Juli 2013.
Die Problemfelder und Fragestellungen, die im Zentrum dieses Seminars stehen werden, sind folgende:
- Welche Rolle spielt der Tractatus in den PU?
- Wieviel Theorie/Thesen gibt es in den PU?
- Was ist Unsinn, wie wird Sinn von Unsinn unterschieden?
- Was sind Quellen von philosophischer Verwirrung?
- Wie sieht das methodische Vorgehen aus? Gibt es eine Methode oder verschiedene Methoden?
- Warum kann es keine Philosophischen Sprachspiele geben, warum können keine genuinen erfunden werden?
- Gibt es nicht Bedingungen der Möglichkeit dessen, was in den PU beschrieben wird. Lässt es sich nicht explizieren? Ist es nicht interessant?
- Sind wir wirklich beruhigt, wenn wir mit Wittgenstein mitgehen? Bleiben nicht Fragen übrig? Ist jede philosophische Frage ein Missverständnis?
Sommerseminar Friedrich Nietzsche Perspektivismus und Perfektionsimus, Juli 2017.
Oft heißt es, aus dem Perfektionismus Nietzsches folge eine Extremform des moralischen wie auch des politischen Elitismus, während sich aus dem Perspektivismus eine nicht minder extreme Form des erkenntnistheoretischen oder metaphysischen Relativismus ergeben soll. Alle Lesarten Nietzsches, die in diese Richtungen gehen, werden kritisiert. Im ersten Teil des Seminars wird dargelegt, dass Nietzsches ganz spezifische Spielart des Perfektionismus vor allem deshalb missverstanden worden ist, weil man die besondere philosophische Bedeutung, die er dem exemplarischen Charakter des Lebens und der Werke herausragender Menschen beigemessen hat, nicht erkannte. Die Entwicklung dieser Seite von Nietzsches Denken geht mit dem Versuch einher, von dem Vermächtnis exemplarischer Momente zu profitieren, das die Schriften des amerikanischen Philosophen Ralph Waldo Emerson entwerfen. Im zweiten Teil des Seminars wird gezeigt, dass Nietzsches Perspektivismus hauptsächlich deshalb fehlgedeutet worden ist, weil man nicht gesehen hat, in welch erstaunlichem Maße sich sein eigener Umgang mit dem Begriff der Perspektive im Laufe seines philosophischen Werdegangs wandelt. Dieser Aspekt von Nietzsches Denken hängt Conant zufolge mit dem fortwährenden Versuch zusammen, die prägenden neukantianischen Voraussetzungen seiner frühen Erkenntnistheorie einer immer tiefer ansetzenden Kritik zu unterziehen. Dabei kommt zum Vorschein, dass die praktische wie die theoretische Philosophie Nietzsches gleichermaßen darauf abzielen, genau jene philosophischen Positionen zurückzuweisen, die ihm üblicherweise zugeschrieben werden. Poster
Das 1. Göttinger Kompaktseminar zur Geschichte der analytischen Philosophie. Philosophisches Seminar, Georg-August-Universität, September 2016.
Dieses Seminar widmet sich §§ 185 bis 242 der Philosophischen Untersuchungen Wittgensteins sowie eng verwandten Schriften aus seinem Nachlass. Der Zusammenhang zwischen diesen Paragraphen und verwandten Stellen in seinen Bemerkungen über die Grundlagen der Mathematik wird auch behandelt.
Intensive Seminar: Rule Following, October 2018. Together with Cora Diamond
During her stay in Leipzig Prof. Diamond will co-teach (together with Prof. James Conant) an intensive seminar dedicated to Wittgenstein‘s rule-following conside- rations in his Philosophical Investigations, sections 138-242. The seminar will involve a close reading of Wittgenstein’s text, with an eye to understanding the overall dialectical structure of this entire stretch of sections. It will emerge that a number of the most famous passages within this stretch have been widely misunderstood, precisely because they have usually been interpreted with little attention to their role within this larger context. For more information visit Guest Seminars.
Über den Ursprung des Linguistic Turns in der Philosophie, Wintersemester 2015/16. Zusammen mit Matthias Haase
Das Seminar sucht die philosophischen Ursprünge der Idee auf, dass Sprache wesentlich für die Möglichkeit des Denkens ist. Dabei werden wir uns mit einer Reihe von Themen der Geschichte der philosophischen Logik beschäftigen – u.a. mit folgenden Fragen: Was ist der Status der grundlegenden Gesetze der Logik? Ist es möglich, die Grenze logischen Denkens zu ziehen? Was ist der Status des Subjekts logischer Untersuchungen? Was ist das Verhältnis zwischen dem Logischen und dem Theologischen sowie dem Logischen und dem Psychologischen? In welcher Beziehung stehen den folgenden beiden Fragen: „Was ist die Einheit des Urteils?“ und „Was ist die Einheit des urteilenden Subjekts?“ Welcher Sinn der Unterscheidung zwischen Form und Materie ist relevant für die Logik? Jede dieser Fragen führt, auf je unterschiedliche Weise, zu der Frage, inwiefern und in welchem Ausmaß Sprache dem Denken intrinsisch ist. Wir beginnen mit Aristoteles’ Verständnis der Beziehung von Denken zu Sprache, um dann dessen Umgestaltung in mittelalterlichen Auffassungen des Verhältnisses zwischen logischer Wahrheit und göttlichen Schöpfung sowie Descartes’ darauf antwortende Theorie der Schöpfung ewiger Wahrheiten in den Blick zu nehmen. In nächsten Schritt untersuchen wir, wie diese Debatten Kants Unterscheidung zwischen allgemeiner und transzendentaler Logik vorbereiten, um uns dann der Schwelle zur zeitgenössischen Auffassung von Logik zuzuwenden – nämlich Frege, insbesondere seine Position zu dem Wesen der Begriffsschrift, dem Unterschied zwischen dem Logischen und dem Nichtlogischen sowie der Erläuterung logischer Grundbegriffe. Abschließend beschäftigen wir uns kurz mit der Perspektive, die der frühe und der späten Wittgenstein zu diesen Fragen eröffnet. Seminarplan
Faculty Seminar Logically Alien Thought Revisited, Wintersemester 2015/16.
The seminar is devoted to the following five topics and their interrelationship: (1) Avicenna on essence and existence; (2) Descartes on the creation of the eternal truths; (3) Kant’s hylomorphic conception of logic; (4) Frege’s thought experiment concerning the possibility of logically alien thought; and (5) Wittgensteins criticism, first in the Tractatus and then in the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, of Frege’s understanding of what his thought experiment shows.
Sommerseminar: Wittgenstein über Zeichen und Symbole, 2014.
Das Seminar widmet sich folgenden fünf Themen und ihrem Zusammenspiel: (1) Frege über Zeichen und Symbol; (2) Wittgensteins Kritik im Tractatus von Freges Art und Weise zwischen Zeichen und Symbol zu unterscheiden; (3) Die Entwicklung Wittgensteins Verständnis vom Verhältnis zwischen Zeichen und Symbol in seiner Spätphilosophie; (4) Die Rolle davon in seiner Erläuterung des Regelfolgenproblems; (5) Wittgensteins späte Kritik des Tractatus.
Frege und Wittgenstein: Die “spartanische” Lesart des Tractatus, Sommersemester 2004. Together with Hans Julius Schneider
This course is devoted to a careful reading of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and an examination of some of the central disputes in the secondary literature concerning it, with special attention to the so-called “resolute” or “austere” reading of the Tractatus. The aim is to provide an overview of the philosophy of the early Wittgenstein, with special attention to the critique of Frege, the structure and the method of the Tractatus as a whole, and especially some of the most hotly debated exegetical controversies recently surrounding the work. Some attention is also given to the topic of the relation between the Tractatus and Wittgenstein’s later work. In this course, we will begin by looking at Frege’s treatment of various topics fundamental to an understanding of the Tractatus, including his conception of a logically perfect language, the nature of the difference between concepts and objects, the character of the cleavage between the logical and the psychological, and the role of the activity of elucidation in imparting an understanding of logically primitive notions. After a brief look at corresponding issues in the work of Bertrand Russell, we will go on to explore how tensions in Frege’s (and to some extent Russell’s) views on these topics are explored are resolved in the work of early Wittgenstein. We will discuss various influential readings of Wittgenstein’s Tractatusincluding the so-called “positivist” reading (as popularized by Carnap and Schlick), the so-called “standard” or “ineffability” interpretation (especially as put forward in the work of P.M.S. Hacker and David Pears), and the more recent so-called “resolute” interpretation (as developed in the work of Conant, Diamond, Kremer, Ricketts, and others) and recent criticisms thereof (especially those of Hacker, Proops, and Sullivan). At the end of the course, we will briefly consider the transition from Wittgenstein’s early to his later thought and the nature of his later criticisms of the Tractatus.
Varieties of Skepticism, Sommersemester 2004.
In this course, we will begin by considering the differences between Cartesian and Kantian skepticism. This will involve both looking at Descartes and Kant’s writings and at those of subsequent authors who take themselves to be exploring the respective skeptical problematics of each of these authors. We will then go on to explore the ways in which these two forms of skepticism are conflated and distinguished in a variety of authors in the analytic tradition, including H.H. Price, C.I. Lewis, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, John McDowell and Stanley Cavell.
Kant & Analytic Kantianism, Sommersemester 2004.
This course will be devoted to a study of selected episodes in twentieth-century analytic philosophy. It will focus on how certain Kantian views are inherited, articulated and transformed in the writings of certain analytic philosophers, especially Moritz Schlick, C. I. Lewis, Wilfrid Sellars, Robert Brandom, and John McDowell. The aim of the course is both to use certain central texts of analytic philosophy to illuminate some the central aspirations of Kant’s theoretical philosophy and to use Kant to illuminate the direction in which one central current of the analytic tradition in epistemology and philosophy of mind has been – and still is – traveling. This will be both a course on Kant and on the reception of the Kantian philosophy in analytic philosophy. It will be devoted both to an intensive study of selected portions of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reasonand to a brief and selective survey of some of the most difficult, influential and rewarding texts in epistemology and philosophy of mind in twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy. The course is based on the conviction that teaching these two sorts of texts together will allow each to illuminate the other. The portion of the course concerned directly with Kant will be devoted to an intensive study of selected portions of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. The focus of the course will be on the Transcendental Analytic and especially the Transcendental Deduction, but some effort will be made to situate those portions of the text with respect to the Transcendental Aesthetic and the Transcendental Dialectic. The portion of the course concerned with the inheritance of Kantian philosophy in the analytic philosophical tradition will begin by briefly looking at the views of Moritz Schlick, the central figure of Vienna Circle and a leading exponent of early logical positivism B in order to get some sense of the sort of view and the sort of reading of Kant to which subsequent figures in the analytic tradition were reacting. We will then proceed to read carefully the following three texts: the first three chapters of C. I. Lewis’s Mind and the World Order, most of Wilfrid Sellars’s classic essay Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind ,, and John McDowell’s recent lectures Having the World in View: Sellars, Kant, and Intentionality. We will also have occasion to look briefly at related writing by these authors and by some of the contemporary authors with whom they were concerned to disagree.
The Constitution of a Movie-World, Sommersemester 2004.
The course investigates some of the conditions and modes of visual presentation that make it possible for a viewer of a motion picture drama to become absorbed in what is experienced as an independent fictional narrative world. Some attention is given to exploring the similarities and differences between the presentation of a fictional narrative world in film and in some of the other visual and dramatic arts, most notably painting and theatre. Readings will be from, among others, Andre Bazin, Leo Braudy, Stanley Cavell, Denis Diderot, Michael Fried, Jean Mitry, Victor Perkins, V.I. Pudovkin, Karel Reisz, and George Wilson.
Xalapa, Instituto de Filosofía, Universidad Vericruzana
University of Amsterdam
Stanley Cavell’s The Claim of Reason, Summer Semester, 1998
The aim of this first course will be to offer a careful reading of three quarters of Stanley Cavell’s major philosophical work, The Claim of Reason. The course will concentrate on Parts I, II, & IV of the book (with only very cursory discussion of Part III). We will focus on Cavell’s treatment of the following topics: criteria, skepticism, agreement in judgment, speaking inside and outside language games, the distinction between specific and generic objects, the relation between meaning and use, our knowledge of the external world, our knowledge of other minds, the concept of a non-claim context, the distinction between knowledge and acknowledgment, and the relation between literary form and philosophical content. We will read background articles by authors whose work Cavell himself discusses in the book, as well as related articles by Cavell. We will also discuss several of the better pieces of secondary literature on the book to have appeared over the course of the last three decades. Though no separate time will be given over to an independent study of Wittgenstein’s philosophy, we will take the required time to understand those particular passages from Wittgenstein to which Cavell himself devotes extended attention in his book and upon which he builds his argument. The Claim of Reason is dedicated to J. L. Austin and Thompson Clarke and its treatment of skepticism seeks to steer a middle course between that found in the writings of these two authors. We will therefore also need to read the work of these two authors carefully. The final two meetings of the course will focus on issues in Part IV of the book which set the stage for a broader consideration of Cavell’s views on topics in philosophical aesthetics and the relation between philosophy and literature.
Philosophy & Film, Fall 2009.
This will be a course in both philosophy (in particular, that branch of philosophy known as aesthetics or the philosophy of art) and a certain branch of art history (namely, the history of the theory and practice of cinema). We will be concerned with a variety of interrelated and overlapping philosophical questions that arise in connection with film. Our guiding question will be: What is a movie? In the course of exploring various answers to this question, among the further sorts of question we will take up will be the following: questions in the theory of visual representation (e.g., what makes something a visual representation ofsomething (else)?, what is the difference between how paintings and movies represent?, what is the difference between how photographs and movies represent?), questions of realism (e.g., what makes one painting, or photograph, or film morerealistic than another?, are moving photographic imagesinherently more realistic than paintings?, does the very idea of a ‘realistic’ representation rest on a philosophical confusion?), questions of meta-aesthetics (what makes something a work of art?, are photographs works of art?, is film an art?, or are only somefilms works of art?), questions of aesthetic medium (what is an aesthetic medium?, how does the medium of photography differ from that of paint on canvas and what, if any, is the aesthetic significance of that difference?, is anything that happens to have been recorded by a movie camera a film?, do documentary films and Hollywood narrative films explore the same aesthetic medium or different media?), questions about the supposed peculiarity of the photographic medium (does something which appears in a photograph have a different sort of ontological status than something which appears in, say, a painting or a cartoon?, does it make a difference to what sorts of aesthetic objects photographs or documentary films are that they can be used as evidence in a courtroom?), and, finally, questions of normative aesthetics (what makes something agoodmovie?, does theachievement of realism confer aesthetic value on an image or a series of moving images?, does the overcoming of realism confer aesthetic value on such images?, or are issues of realism irrelevant to the assessment of aesthetic value?).
The Philosophical Problem of Following a Rule, Fall 2007
Varieties of Skepticism, May and June 2006.
The aim of the course will be to consider some of the most influential treatments of skepticism in the post-war analytic philosophical tradition—in relation both to the broader history of philosophy and to current tendencies in contemporary analytic philosophy. The first part of the course will begin by distinguishing two broad varieties of skepticism—Cartesian and Kantian—and their evolution over the past two centuries (students without any prior familiarity with both Descartes and Kant will be at a significant disadvantage here), and will go on to isolate and explore some of the most significant variants of each of these varieties in recent analytic philosophy. The second part of the course will involve a close look at recent influential analytic treatments of skepticism. It will also involve a brief look at various versions of contextualism with regard to epistemological claims. We will carefully read and critically evaluate writings on skepticism by the following authors: J. L. Austin, Robert Brandom, Stanley Cavell, Thompson Clarke, Saul Kripke, C. I. Lewis, John McDowell, H. H. Price, Hilary Putnam, Barry Stroud, Charles Travis, Michael Williams, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Philosophy of Perception, May and June 2006.
The course will trace the development of a variety interrelated topics in analytic philosophy of perception. It will begin by briefly looking at the views of Moritz Schlick, the central figure of Vienna Circle and a leading exponent of early logical positivism in order to get some sense of the conception of what is given in perception to which subsequent figures in the analytic tradition were reacting. We will then proceed to read carefully the following four texts: the first three chapters of C. I. Lewis’s Mind and the World Order, most of Wilfrid Sellars’s classic essay Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind (EPM), Robert Brandom’s Study Guide to EPM, and John McDowell’s lectures Having the World in View: Sellars, Kant, and Intentionality and related writings. We will also have occasion to look briefly at related writing by each of these authors, as well as by some of the contemporary authors with whom they are concerned to disagree.
Kant and Analytical Kantianism, April & May 2003
This course will be devoted to a study of selected portions of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and certain philosophically parallel episodes in twentieth-century analytic philosophy. The portions of the course devoted to Kant will focus on his views on the relation between sensibility and understanding (especially as articulated in the Transcendental Deduction) and those devoted to analytic philosophy will focus on how those Kantian views are inherited, articulated and transformed in the writings of certain analytic philosophers
(especially Mortiz Schlick, C. I. Lewis, Wilfrid Sellars, Robert Brandom, and John McDowell). The aim of the course is both to use certain central texts of analytic philosophy to illuminate some the central aspirations of Kant’s theoretical philosophy and to use certain central Kantian texts in which those aspirations are pursued to illuminate the direction in which one central current of the analytic tradition in epistemology and philosophy of mind has been – and still is – traveling.
The Philosophy of Film. Summer School, co-taught with Robert Pippin, 2015 (Program PDF)
The main questions to be discussed are: the bearing of cinema on philosophy; or in what sense, if any, is cinema a form of philosophical thought? What sort of distinctive aesthetic object is a film, or what is the “ontology” of film? What, in particular, distinguishes a “realist” narrative film? What is a “Hollywood” film? What is a Hollywood genre?
Authors to be read include, among others, Bazin, Cavell, Perkins, Wilson, Rothman. Films to be seen and discussed include films by Ford, Hitchcock, Ray, Tourneur, and the Dardenne brothers.