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The basic premise of feminist philosophy is that feminist struggle for equality requires re-evaluation of the basic structures of Western thought. Thus, feminist philosophy questions the fundamental understanding of Human reality and attempts to suggest new perspectives on traditional philosophical issues. In this course we will meet some of the most prominent thinkers of feminist philosophy, who represent the main theoretical standpoints of feminist philosophy. We will review their critic of the traditional metaphysical and epistemological ideal of humanity, rationality, knowledge and ethical agency. We will also evaluate the different suggestions for new understanding of these basic concepts, and the way they suppose promote social change.

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  • ' ' 25/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 25/03/2009 18:00

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Introduction to Philosophical Logic

The aim of this course is to enhance the students knowledge of the first order predicate calculus, as well as to survey a number of other topics that were not discussed in the general introductory course. Among the topics to be studied: elementary set theoretic notions; first order predicate calculus with identity, including a proof procedure and semantics; propositional modal logics; semantic and logical paradoxes.

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  • ' ' 15/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 16/08/2009 9:00

‏ (06181012)

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Logic is an essential component both in the history of philosophy and in the understanding of modern philosophical texts. The course Introduction to Logic acquaints its students with basic logical tools by locating and assessing valid arguments. Development of the ability to analyze natural language enables exposing languages logical structures. The first part of the course is devoted to sentential calculus, its semantics and syntax (via Gentzen style derivation rules). The second part focuses on predicate calculus, ending with relations. The course enables the students to pursue their studies of logic as a field of research as well as providing with the essential tools for reading texts, philosophical and others, through the understanding of the arguments and formulae they present.

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  • ' ' 16/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 06/05/2009 18:00

‏ (06181015)

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The introductory course for the philosophy of language introduces the students to what has become a central area of research in the present philosophical era. Beginning with the question what is philosophy of language? and its delimitation, follows the introduction of classical themes in the philosophy of language in the 20th centaury in chronological order. We will be reading texts by Frege, Russell, early and late Wittgenstein Carnap and Strawson.

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  • ' ' 26/06/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 28/07/2009 9:00

‏ (06181016)

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Introduction to Philosophy of Religion
Dr. Nehama Verbin

Does God exist? Can one prove by means of a philosophical argument that He exists? In this course, we shall examine different responses to these questions, from the 11th century to the 21st century. We shall examine different arguments to Gods existence, e.g., Anselms Aquinass, and Paleys arguments. We shall examine various arguments for Gods non-existence, e.g., arguments to the incoherence of religious discourse and arguments based on the reality of evil. We shall also examine various philosophers and theologians that reject the very attempt to devise a philosophical argument for Gods existence, e.g., Kierkegaard, Barth and Yeshayahu Leibowitz.

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  • ' ' 22/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 27/05/2009 18:00

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  • ' ' 05/02/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 13/03/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 17/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 18/08/2009 9:00

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Introduction to Political Philosophy
Prof. Zvi Tauber
Course Objectives: Introducing the basic and essential concepts of political philosophy according to its main thinkers in the history of western philosophy.
Course Topics: The political thoughts of two ancient philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and the political thought of four modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and J-S. Mill. The political discourse is based in this course on the metaphysical principles of these philosophers.
Method of Teaching: Lectures and classroom-discussion.
Literature: Selected chapters from the above philosophers' writings. The bibliography will be distributed at the beginning of the semester.
Student Assignment: A classroom-exam.

Introduction to Political Philosophy
Dr. Yiftah Goldman
What is a State? How is it formed and what is its purpose? Is it natural or artificial? The course "introduction to political philosophy" will deal with those issues through a survey of the political theories of some of the leading philosopher in western culture. Among the concepts and subjects that will be dealt with are:
- The purpose of the State
- Power, Authority, Government and Sovereignty
- The concept of "Social Contract": the State as an Agreement
- The State and Social Division of Labor
- The State and Social Classes
- The State and Human Freedom
- The State and Community
The course will focus on the following philosophers: Plato, Aristotle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx and Martin Buber.

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  • ' ' 13/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 20/03/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 10/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 12/08/2009 9:00

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Introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy
Dr. Arie Finkelberg

Western philosophy begins in Ancient Greece: the Greeks invented the term "philosophy," defined the main topics of philosophical discourse and created its conceptual apparatus. But the Greeks not only invented philosophy, - their philosophical achievements continually influenced Western thought and still serve as a source of inspiration. The course is a historical survey of the development of Greek philosophy from its origins in the 6th century BCE to its highest point in the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle.

Introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy
Dr. Orna Harari
The course offers a survey of the development of Greek philosophy from the Presocratics through Plato to Aristotle. The course focuses on three explanatory approaches: explanations in terms of (1) whole and parts, (2) paradigm and copy and (3) universal and particular.

Obligations: participation in at least 80% of the meetings, reading assignments, and an exam, which will determine the final mark.

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  • ' ' 25/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 03/06/2009 18:00
  • ' ' 29/06/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 02/08/2009 9:00

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Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy

This course is a survey of western European philosophy in the early modern period, with emphasis placed on Metaphysical and Epistemological issues. It covers the major figures and themes in the Seventeenth and eighteenth century's philosophy, including Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, George Berkeley, David Hume and Immanuel Kant.
The course introduces students to some central themes in the early modern period, including the nature of knowledge, truth, method and reality; conceptions of the self and of personal identity, the nature of ideas, the mind-body problem, etc.
Students are required to read selected writings of these figures.

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  • ' ' 11/02/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 27/03/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 07/07/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 09/08/2009 9:00

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Introduction to Epistemology and Metaphysics (B.A. course):

Professor Ruth Weintraub

The course will provide an introduction to these two central areas in philosophy, illustrate the difference between them and the way they are related. It will be structured around some central philosophical issues - truth, rationality, causality, idealism God, the mind, determinism and free will - which will be examined from these two perspectives (the metaphysical and the epistemological).
The grade will be based on an end of term exam.


Introduction to Epistemology and Metaphysics

Dr. Yaron Senderowicz

Since the early days of antiquity, epistemology, ontology, and metaphysics were central fields of philosophical inquiries. The subject matter of epistemology is the concept of knowledge whereas that of ontology and metaphysics is the concept of being. The present class acquaints the students with some of the central ideas and theories that are part of contemporary philosophical debate. In the first part the concept of knowledge will be introduced. Particular attention will be given to the concept of justification and to the variety of standpoints from which one can approach it: Cartesianism, foundationalism, coherentism etc. In the second part we will address a selection of metaphysical problems: the-mind-body problem, time and becoming, free will and determinism, personal identity etc.

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  • ' ' 08/02/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 03/04/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 05/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 07/08/2009 9:00

‏ (06181041)

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Following a brief and systematic introduction that surveys different approaches to philosophy of science, the main bulk of the course is devoted to describing and analyzing historically the main attempts to understand science philosophically since the 17th century. These, as time permits, will include discussions of the philosophies of science of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes in their religious contexts; the problems presented to each by Newton's physics; the challenge to Cartesian rationalism posed by the differential calculus; that posed to the empiricist tradition by Hume's analysis of causation; the philosophical significance of the post-Newtonian parting of ways in physics between the analytical and realist schools; the birth of instrumentalism in the former; the philosophical problem of the emergence sciences; Kant's philosophy of science; the new post-Humean British empiricists; the philosophical crisis of the downfall of classical physics at the turn of the 20th century, and the new schools of philosophy of science that emerged thereon.

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  • ' ' 20/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 20/05/2009 18:00

‏ (06181042)

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1. Karl H. Potter, Presuppositions of India's Philosophies, Chapters 1, 2
2. M. Hiriyanna, Outlines of Indian Philosophy, Chapters 3,5,7
3. Hamilton, S., A Very Short Introduction to Indian Philosophy (Oxford UP)
4. Matilal, B.K., Epistemology, Logic and Grammar in Indian Philosophical Analysis, Chapter 1.
5. Radhakrishnan & Moore, A Source Book of Indian Philosophy

Introduction to Indian Philosophies and Religions

In this course, the following themes will be discussed:

1. Indian Philosophy: Initial 'maps'
2. The notion of 'freedom' as an ideal
3. Ritual, action and atheism: the Veda and the Mīmāmsā school of philosophy
4. The notions of dharma and karma
5. The notion of 'Self' in the Upanişads
6. The Buddhist revolution and the rejection of a 'Self' notion
7. Indian epistemology
8. Argumentation in Indian philosophy
9. Indian Skepticism

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  • ' ' 20/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 20/08/2009 9:00

‏ (06181043)

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Introduction to Chinese Philosophy and Religion

The course focuses on the notion of Dao in Confucianism and in Daoism. Dao as "Way" signifies a doctrine, law, and method, yet it is also the process of walking, and walking is changing. Changing is central in both Confucianism and Daoism in different ways: Daoism is about spontaneous change and Confucianism is about intentional moral change. It is therefore a curiosity that despite some strongly opposing attitudes, both philosophies accept the authority of The Book of Changes (Yijing). We will look into the wisdom of the Chinese philosophy of change in the Yijing, through its understandings in both major Chinese schools.

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  • ' ' 18/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 13/05/2009 18:00

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Aesthetics: An Introduction

The course examines key moments in the history of philosophy's preoccupation with
the essence of art and beauty.
Readings include: Plato, Plotinus, Alberti, Kant, Schiller, Nietzsche, Freud.

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  • ' ' 22/06/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 31/07/2009 9:00

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Guided Reading "A": Course Description

The course aims primarily at developing the various skills necessary for reading and assessing philosophical texts. Under the supervision of the course instructors, the students perform a close and careful reading of one of the central texts of modernity, Descartes' "Meditations". Naturally, such a detailed reading, followed by a class discussion thereof, enables the students to reach a better understanding of Cartesian philosophy. But moreover, and all the more so, it also enables the students to get acquainted with some of the central features pertaining to the practice of philosophy, mainly in its ongoing engagement with reading and interpreting texts.

Hence, while the guided reading of Descartes' text indeed affords to penetrate, for instance, the rationale behind Descartes' skepticism, and his arrival at the "Cogito", still, emphasis is mostly laid on extracting insights with regards to the practice of reading philosophical texts in general. Thus, Descartes' canonical text is also used as a model; the reading thereof serves to exemplify the various and different strategies which are generally employed when approaching philosophical texts. The course stresses the importance of exposing the logical structure of the arguments presented within the text, its implicit underlying assumptions and commitments, as well as its rhetoric, its appeal to linguistic devices, and also the various contexts wherein it can be posited, which might further and deepen our understanding thereof.

The course also stresses the importance of actively partaking in the "philosophical experience". This is achieved through class discussions where the student is confronted not only with her own opinions, but also with those of her class-mates as well as through short written assignments which the students are asked to submit almost every week. These written assignments are where the student gets to practice her academic writing skills, articulate her thoughts, extract and critically assess various kinds of philosophical arguments. These assignments serve also as a means to establishing an ongoing philosophical dialogue with the course instructor, whose weekly comments and feedback on the written assignments encourage the students and have proven valuable for their personal progress in philosophy.

The course ends with an exam. The final grade is composed of the final exam, together with the grades awarded for the short assignments throughout the semester.

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  • ' ' 03/02/2009 9:00
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Introduction to Aristotle's philosophy

A sequel to the course "Introduction to Ancient Greek Philosophy," this course is concerned with the main aspects of Aristotle's philosophy - the scientific method, the theory of cathegories, ontology, epistemology, philosophy of nature, psychology, ethics and political theory. Special emphasis is put on the dependence of Aristotle's thought on that of Plato, on the one hand, and its departure from it, on the other.

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Philosophy in the Nineteenth and Twentieth century

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  • ' ' 11/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 25/03/2009 18:00
  • ' ' 07/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 13/08/2009 9:00

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Philosophy of ReligionPart II
Dr. Nehama Verbin

The course deals with the question whether we can speak to and about God. We shall begin with an exploration of the nature of the God whom one may wish to address and about whom one may wish to speak. We shall discuss the God of the philosophers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and some of the difficulties that emerge from each of these conceptions. We shall focus on the difficulty to speak about that than which nothing greater can be conceived, as Maimonides, Aquinas and the early Wittgenstein comprehend it. We shall also discuss some of the difficulties to address and maintain a relationship with the great the mighty, and the awesome God as He reveals Himself to Job.

Prerequisites: Introduction to philosophy of religion

Credit for this course requires: 1) Participating in, at least, two thirds of the classes.
2) Submitting a short paper in the end of the course.

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Arindam Chakrabarti, 'Is Liberation (mokşa) Pleasant?', Philosophy East and West, Vol. 33 no.2 (1983), pp. 167-182.
Ben-Ami Scharfstein, 'Immanent-Transcendent Holism: Śankara and Spinoza', in his A Comparative History of World Philosophy: From the Upanişads to Kant, Albany: SUNY, PP.367-405.

12.3.09.

Introduction to Indian Philosophy: Part II

The course focuses on the main features of several philosophical schools in India: Nyāya, Mīmāmsā, Advaita Vedānta, Sānkhya and Yoga. We shall also discuss Bhartŗhari's philosophy of language and touch on the Rasa theory of aesthetics. The 'tutorial' (Targil) will be dedicated to Buddhist epistemology, focusing on the philosophies of Nāgārjuna and vasubandhu, and to the debate between the Nyāyikas and the Buddhists.

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12.3.09.

Chinese Philosophy - advanced
The advanced course in Chinese philosophy will focus this year on the question of selfhood and otherness in the various Chinese philosophies. We will examine whether there is an equivalent in Chinese philosophy to the notion of "self" as known in Western philosophies, or whether the idea of change in Chinese philosophy cannot accept a "self". The class will focus on ideas from Daoism and Chan Buddhism, e.g., "knowing not to know", "turning back", "in itself so", forgetting, and having no desires. The section will focus on the Confucian and neo Confucian "relational self". During the semester the students will perform debates between the schools.

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Advanced Epistemology (B.A. course):
The course will focus on scepticism, especially the following issues: methodological vs. doctrinal scepticism, the nature of the sceptical challenge and the appropriate way of responding to it, the self-undermining problem. Having explained the nature of the sceptical challenge and paved the way for it to be heard, we will consider some of the most powerful arguments for scepticism, and consider ways of refuting them.
Prerequisites (recommended): logic
Students are expected to attend the weekly discussion section (targil), in which they will be required to write at least three essays.
The final grade will be based on the exam at the end of term (50%) and discussion-section (targil) (50%)

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  • ' ' 08/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 18/03/2009 18:00

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Advanced Aesthetics
Preliminary requirement: Introduction to Aesthetics.
This course deals with the nature of aesthetic experience and examines philosophical ways of dealing with the aesthetic. Can philosophy account for the singular way in which art affects its addressees? Does the presence of beauty, or the effect of pleasure, condition the aesthetic mode of experience?
Is the definition of the aesthetic given to changes after the modernist turn? The sublime and the relation of the aesthetic judgment to morality will also be addressed during this course.
The main texts to be studied are: Kants Critique of Judgment, Heideggers The Origin of the Work of Art and Hegels Lectures on Aesthetics..

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Advance topics in Philosophy of Language

In this course we deal with several key issues in the philosophy of
language. At the heart of the course will be the question of
linguistic meaning: What it is, and what makes it the case that our
utterances have the meaning they do. We will examine how this central
issue is related to several concrete semantic questions, such as that
of reference, the debate over the viability of the notion of literal
meaning, and the question of the logical structure of sentences
reporting what people say and believe. Also, we will look into the
connections between the question of linguistic meaning and important
philosophical issues in adjacent fields, e.g., the nature of belief on
the one hand and logic on the other. Among the philosophers from the
writings of whom we shall read are Austin, Brandon, Dummett, Davidson,
Grice, Fodor, Frege, Putnam, Quine, Russell and Searle.

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  • ' ' 26/06/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 26/07/2009 9:00

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Nietzsches critique on democracy

Nietzsche is one of the most radical critics of the modern democratic society. he maintains that the values of the French revolution freedom, equality and fraternity not only wasnt realized in reality, but are used only as a mask for something else; subjugation.
The course discusses the Nietzschian meaning of the French revolution values and their degree of realization in the currently democratic society. it also examines the social alternatives in his thought to the political present.

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Moral Philosophy Advanced Course

Know thyself ! This injunction has an essential role in moral philosophy from its origins to the present, as a key to the constitution of the individuals moral worth. The course discusses various interpretations of the duty of self-knowledge, as these appear in the frameworks of some main currents of modern moral philosophy.
The first stage of the discussion examines the role of self-knowledge in the context of the development of the proceduralist approach to moral philosophy, from certain aspects of Christian moral theology in the latter half of the 17th century to the philosophy of Kant. The emerging connection between the concept of conscientiousness and the injunction of sincerity towards oneself will be explained, and we will see how the concepts of conscientiousness and sincerity were reinterpreted within the framework of Kants theory of the good will and moral autonomy. The following question then arises: does Kants theory lead to an impasse in the attempt to cognize the moral worth of oneself or does the Kantian conception of enlightenment and of the faculty of interpretive judgment in their relation to history, lead to an explication of the idea of self-knowledge by means of its connection to the expanded consciousness which can be constructed through communication or discourse?
The second part of the course will present some developments and transformations of the Kantian conception of enlightenment in the context of recent approaches to discourse ethics. The moral theories of Habermas, Ben-Habib, Rawls and Scanlon will be briefly reviewed, and we will ask whether the original end of self-knowledge has not been lost in the framework of modern discourse ethics.
The third part of the discussion will go back to certain trends in the moral thought of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, viewed through the medium of Hegels philosophical-historical interpretation. A description will be given of the contest or collision between the ideal of the honest soul (linked to sincerity towards oneself and personal integrity) and the disintegrated consciousness, which forms the subject of a dialogue by Diderot, according to Hegels interpretation. Following this, Hegels critique of the abstract character of the Kantian conceptions of sincerity, conscientiousness, the good will and moral autonomy will be presented. The Hegelian version of the concept of self-knowledge will then be examined, with emphasis on the social-substantive conditions of the possibility of self-knowledge and the conditioning of self-knowledge by mutual recognition between the self and others.
The fourth part of the course will describe some versions of the ideal of self-expression and authenticity, as these appear in the moral theories of Rousseau, Schiller and Sartre. This leads to an important distinction between the ideal of authenticity, which gives a substantive meaning to the concept of self-knowledge, and the ideal of sincerity, which is linked to the procedural meaning of self-knowledge.
Finally, the implications of the post-modernist ethics of Levinas, as presenting a challenge to the injunction to know thyself, will be examined: does the central role given to self-knowledge imply a suppression or appropriation of the other?

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G. W. Leibniz [1686], A Brief Demonstration.
G. W. Leibniz [1691], Essay on Dynamics on the Laws of Motion.
G. W. Leibniz [1695], Specimen Dynamicum.
G. W. Leibniz [1695], New System.
G. W. Leibniz [1697], On the Radical Origination of Things.
G. W. Leibniz [1698], On Nature Itself.
G. W. Leibniz [1702], On Body and Force, against the Cartesians.
G. W. Leibniz [1715-1716], The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence.

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Leibniz Metaphysics and Philosophy of Nature

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Deutsch, Eliot, Advaita Vedānta: A Philosophical Reconstruction, Honolulu: East-West Center Press, 1969
Olivelle, P., The Early Upanişads, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

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13.8.09.

Reality and Illusion: From the Upanişads to Śankara

The Upanişads are the cornerstones of Indian philosophy. Śankara, the famous commentator of the Upanişads, is considered by many as one of the greatest Indian philosophers. In this course we will read several Upanişadic chapters (from the Bŗhadāraņyaka, Chāndogya and Kaţha Upanişads) 'before' and 'after' Śankara's commentary. We will discuss central philosophical themes in the Upanişads and Śankara, such as reality and Illusion (Brahman and māyā), ignorance and knowledge (avidyā and brahmavidyā), and the 'great sentences' (mahāvākya). We will try to find out if, how and to what extent Śankara's philosophy is indeed based on the Upanişadic narrative, and further touch on his debates with the Mīmāmsākas and the Buddhists.

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13.8.09.

Space, Place, Thought: Between Philosophy and Architecture

What is between philosophy and architecture? How do these two disciplines meet and what are the embodied possibilities in this meeting?

Today, in the period in which the critical theory has become the leading option in architectural discourse, the depth of the philosophical question is relevant.
In the years following the Second World War, in search of meaning, the architectural discourse referred to the critical theory in order to expand the interpretive aspects of architecture.

Wittgenstein claims that philosophical questions have the form of "I do not know my way". Philosophical problems rise whenever man starts to contemplate there place in nature, society, and history. In our course we will discuss the following questions: What is the connection between philosophy and the act of architecture? How do philosophical discussions on the concepts of space and place play an essential role in central questions in architecture? What is the difference between geometric and existential space? What is the relation between the ethic and the esthetic in architecture?

The departing point of this course will be Sigfried Giedion's (one of the most prominent theoreticians in modern architecture) declaration that the main cause of architecture is to offer ''the interpretation of a way of life valid for our period". In this content the dialogue between architecture and philosophical thought will be presented as a condition toward rethinking the fundamental concepts of the architectural practice while emphasizing the interpretive and existential aspects of space, place, and dwelling.

During this course we will explore some of the more central developments in 20th century architecture with emphasis on philosophical relevance. We will introduce a discussion on Le Corbusier in relation to Heidegger's thought; the work of Carlo Scarpa and Enric Miralles in dialogue with the work of Merleau Ponty; and the issues of public space in architecture while discussing the ethic approach of Levinas.

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13.8.09.

Aspects on Negotiation in Arabic-Speaking Islam

The purpose of this class is to introduce to Western students the cultural factors in Arabic speaking Islam, which influence negotiation in this culture. Its message is that culture at large is of prime importance in most conflicts and their management. Among the topics discussed: conflict, negotiation, language, time-perception, Us and the Others, Religion.

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White Mythologies

The course proposes to explore the intricate relationships between modern views and post-structuralist critical perspective within the possibility of creating effective forms of radical politics. In doing that, I wish to describe multiple perspectives of major theorists - relying mostly on Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Fredric Jameson - and point to the different difficulties which arise from these intellectual standpoints.

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Basic Concepts in Phenomenology

The course will present the questions: what is consciousness, what contents it has and what kind of structure embrace them. The course will examine the way Edmund Husserl's inquiry into the notion of intentionality deals with those questions, mainly in his Logical Investigations, and Ideas I. We will examine Husserl's criticism of Brentano's notion of intentionality and explain the alternative concept he offers. We will deal with questions like: in what sense intentionality is an essential and basic character of consciousness, what is the meaning of the Husserlian determination according to which: "all mental acts are intentional" and how Husserl prove it. The clarification of the Husserlian notion of intentionality will focus mostly on the relationships between three key concepts of any intentional inquiry: act-content-object. We will examine the way other logical theories from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20's explain the relations between a mental act, its content and the object it intends, especially Frege's, Meinong's and Twardowski's. The highlight the course aim at is a comparative and critical presentation of Husserl's two inquiries into the structure of mental act- before and after his 'Transcendental turn'- that essential regressive step that according to Husserl, every philosopher has to take if he wish his inquiry to gain any scientific value. We will discuss Husserl's motivation to change his method of inquiry of the mental act and its essential characters and analyze the methodical, terminological and thematic differences between the 2 inquires. The main question we will raise in this context will be: do the differences between the two presentative models by which Husserl describes and explains the structure of consciousness reflects also a change in his understating of the relations between the act, its contents and its object, or we can assume consistency in Husserl's thought in that regard. We will enrich our discussion in this question with the aid of contemporary literature that deals with Husserl's notion of intentionality.

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  • ' ' 04/02/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 11/03/2009 18:00

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12.3.09.

The Other in psychoanalytic thought

The purpose of the course is to analyze the concept of the Other in the psychoanalytic thought of Freud and Lacan through the reading of Plato's Symposium.
Psychoanalytic thought refers to the position of the Other as a position through which the subject's knowledge is constituted, as this knowledge can appear only through the experience of transference.
The structure of the Platonic dialogue in general and of the Symposium in particular offers to illuminate the dialectic relation between the subject and the Other.
Through the reading of this dialogue and the examination of Plato's concept of dialectic, this course will follow the position of the Other in its relation to the construction of knowledge and to its status.

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Ontology and Aesthetics in the Philosophy of Merleau-Ponty

The course will be dedicated to Maurice Merleau-Ponty's work. Merleau-Ponty, one of the most important French phenomenologists in the 20th century western philosophy, brought the human body back to philosophy after a long absence. For him, the carnal, flesh and blood living subject, is the starting point of every philosophical research. We will try to explore the deep meaning of this uncommon starting point and it's implications on the unique ontology Merleau-Ponty creates'. This ontology stands as an alternative to traditional ontologies, blinded to the importance and significance of the carnal body. We will examine the way this starting point outlines, among others, the phenomenon of sensual perception (in particular, vision and touch), the margins of the subject and the manner the other appears in the world.

Students' duties: consistent reading throughout the course and few short assignments.

Course prerequisite: "Philosophy in the 19th and 20th century".

The course syllabus will be handed out in the first lesson.

The course will end in a home exam.

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In the course we will discuss some premises of the Metaphysics of dramatic language as connected to the language of Philosophy. We will deal with philosophers and playwrights from the ancient time till today, concerning issues as what is Theater, the Homoludens, Philosophy as a play, drama as Dialectics, Teatrum Mundi model, the Theartrical Illusion, Dionysian and Apolinian in drama, How to do [Dramatic] Things with Words, Aristotelian and Anti-Aristotelian Theater, etc.

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13.8.09.

On Originality

The course will focus on the concept of originality, as it appears in modern art and literature and in theoretical thought about art, literature and creativity in the 20th century. The course will touch upon related concepts such as origin, copy, particular, author, repetition, automation, duplication and quotation.
Reading material will include:
Theoretical writings: Kant, Benjamin, Barthes, Wittgenstein, Eliot, Bataille
Literature: Kafka, Borges, Sebald
Text by artists: Duchamp, Stella, Judd, Pollock.

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13.8.09.

Conflict and Culture

This class will serve as an introduction to the examination of Conflict as a culture-dependent phenomenon. The culture that will illustrate the subject is Arabic-speaking Islam. Among the topics discussed: Culture (definitions, basic concepts, e.g., victory and defeat, revenge, retaliation; self-perception and that of the other; metaphysical and religious principles, perception of reality); Conflict (means of conflict management and resolution such as language, violence, law, custom, education).

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Hellenistic Philosophy

The course offers a survey of the views developed by the Hellenistic philosophical schools: the skeptics, the Stoics and the Epicureans. The course focuses on epistemology, metaphysics, physics and ethics.
Obligations: Participation in at least 80% of the meetings, reading assignments, and home exam.

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Paul Hacker, 'Aspects of Neo-Hinduism as Contrasted with Surviving Traditional Hinduism', in: Wilhelm Halbfass (ed.), Philology and Confrontation: Paul Hacker on Traditional and Modern Vedānta, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995, pp. 229-255

12.3.09.

Rethinking Mokşa

The course is dedicated to six contemporary Indian thinkers: Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharishi, Mahatma Gandhi and Jiddu Krishnamurti. We shall read chapters written by them as well as the minutes of talks given by them, to become acquainted with Neo-Hindu thought and figure out its modes of correspondence with classical Indian philosophies on the one hand and 'western' influences on the other. We shall further underscore social and political interpretations to the mokşa or 'freedom' notion, and discuss the Tanta-Yogic metaphysics of Sri Aurobondo.

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12.3.09.

Central Topics of Christian Philosophy of the Middle Ages: from Augustine to Eckhardt.
The course intends to show the richness of Medieval Christian Philosophy, by presenting the main thinkers of this period (Augustine, Anselm, Peter Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Occham, Duns Scotus, Eckhardt, ) as well as the broad spectrum of topics they were interested in (ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, natural philosophy, esthetics, political philosophy, ).

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13.8.09.

The "Confessions" of Augustine

The autobiographical "Confessions" of St. Augustine are reckoned among the classics of western literature and are a fundamental work for Christian medieval philosophy and even for modern thought. The 13 books of which this work consists, contain the major topics of Augustine's thought. Each lesson of the course will focus on one topic: for example: autobiography and philosophy, language acquisition, evil, happiness, friendship, the concept of will, time, memory, mysticism

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Aims: This course will introduce students to the philosophical question concerning the nature of experience. This will include addressing evident experience in the works of salient philosophers, such as: Aristotle, James, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Buber and Kierkegaard.


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Experience and Philosophy

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  • ' ' 15/07/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 17/08/2009 9:00

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13.8.09.

Ohad Zehavi, The Political Philosophy of Deleuze & Guattari

The joint work of Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari toward the end of the 20th century produced an original and potent political philosophy. This course will look at some of the key concepts in this political philosophy concepts that challenge the very foundations of liberal thought and offer in its stead new sites for political thought and action. What is the political significance of a minoritarian stance? How does one engage in the politics of the human face? What exactly is micropolitics? What is the point of becoming-animal? What is the nature of nomadism? And how does a molecular revolution take place? These are some of the issues that will be addressed. Discussions in class will draw on selected excerpts from the books co-authored by Deleuze and Guattari (Anti-Oedipus, Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature, A Thousand Plateaus, and What is Philosophy?) and texts written separately by each of the thinkers, which can illuminate the political philosophy created between the two of them.

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13.8.09.

Political Theory and Praxis Relations

What is the relationship between political theory, political action in
general, and revolutionary action in particular? This problem, which
is central to the Marxist tradition, will be the focus of this course.
During the semester we will develop several fundamental questions in
this context: What role do the intellectual and his thought play in
revolutionary politics? What are the sources of legitimacy of his
theory and of the role it is supposed to play? How might philosophy
not only interpret the world but rather change it? What would be
philosophy's form in this case? And finally, how do historical
changes, such as that of the proletariat's political stance, force
thinkers to change their own opinions on these questions? (In other
words, to what extent does the relationship between political theory
and praxis change historically?)
During the course we will address texts by Karl Marx, Georg Lukcs,
and members of the Frankfurt School and examine answers these thinkers
have developed to the above mentioned questions.

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Content Externalism and the Problem of Consciousness / Assaf Weksler

According to content externalism, the representational content of mental states is partly determined by factors external to the mind. According to representationalism, the phenomenal character (i.e., the character of phenomenally conscious states) of perceptual states (such as tasting chocolate or seeing the blue sky) is a kind of representational content.
The course examines representational-externalist theories of perception and of its phenomenal character. Well focus on the influential positions developed by two contemporary philosophers Fred Dretske and Michael Tye and on the live debate they started.

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Ethics and the cinematic experience

How can cinema illuminate the meaning of ethical questions? This course will examine the ethical dimension of the cinematic experience by focusing on the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas. We will deal with such questions as: Can cinema provoke ethical questions not only by means of content but also by means of expression? What is the ethical importance of the film experience? How can central ethical concepts such as care, responsibility, and Otherness be explained within the context of cinema? Reading will include texts by: Merleau-Ponty, Barth, Cavell and Deleuze.

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"Divine Providence" in Kant's Philosophy of History

General : the purpose of the course is to illuminate less known facets of Kant's Philosophy through examination of his discussion of the philosophy of history. Divine Providence, which is another name for the idea of "the cunning of Nature", plays a decisive role in his analysis of the development of history. Since this subject depends on transcendental idealism, with which it maintains an interesting interrelationship, it can provide a key to a more comprehensive understanding of the compendium of Kant's philosophy.
In the view of a certain interpretation, which will serve as a guideline to the course, history can be considered to be the peak of Kant's philosophy : the perfect state as it is shaped through history, is the arena where morality and happiness integrate, that is the 'Kingdom of Ends' on earth which bridges between the sensual realm and the intelligible one.
A preliminary condition: Since Kant's Theory of Consciousness and Theory of Morality serve him as background for the discussion of history, a basic knowledge of these facets of his philosophy will be required of students. These topics will not be independently treated, except for a very brief review at the beginning of the course.

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  • ' ' 24/06/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 29/07/2009 9:00

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Quine on words and objects

Willard Van Orman Quine is one of the most prominent American Philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century. He influenced contemporary analytic philosophy in a way which is still significant today, even if nowadays it is often manifested through objections to his views. Quine introduces a new kind of empiricism: after the stiff atomistic empiricism contended by the logical positivists, he presents a naturalist, pragmatic & holistic view.
In the course we'll discuss some of Quine's central ideas, concerning language and meaning, theory and reality, Ontology and epistemology. We will do this by reading some of his classic texts, like: "On What There Is", "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", the first two chapters of "Word and Object", "Ontological Relativity", "Natural Kinds" and "Epistemology Naturalized", as well as some other less famous texts.

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12.3.09.

On Certainty / Ludwig Wittgenstein

This course will focus on On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein. This text has received a secondary status in Wittgensteins literature, especially with relation to the Tractatus and Philosophical Investigations. It has been particularly treated as a response to Moores common sense and returning to the traditional epistemological questions of knowledge and certainty.
We will try to show the prominent significance of this text by realizing Wittgensteins unique treatment of traditional philosophical problems. In addition, we will try to see how this text sheds light on Wittgensteins earlier works and his treatment of themes such as the role of philosophy, everyday life, science and ethics.

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Art and Politics

Course Objectives: Introducing ideas from the history of western philosophy concerning the relations and affinities between art and politics.
Course Topics: Relevant discussions of Plato, Rousseau, Heine, Marx, Breton, Brecht, Camus, Adorno and others, but mainly Schiller's On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) and Marcuse's The Aesthetic Dimension (1978).
Method of Teaching: Introductory lectures, guided reading, classroom discussion and personal tutoring for writing seminar papers.
A Bibliography of primary and secondary literature will be distributed at the beginning of the semester.
Student Assignment: A seminar or referat paper.

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Discussion of Actual Problems

This seminar deals with the ethical, social and political aspects of actual moral issues and dilemmas. The course inquires into issues such as abortions, genetic engineering, surrogacy, freedom of speech, capital punishment, children rights, environment, etc. The course does not pretend to resolve the moral dilemmas which are involved in these issues, but tries to study their different aspects, and the pros and cons of the proposed solutions to each problem.

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Emotions (B.A. Seminar):
The seminar will focus on several philosophical issues raised by the emotions: their metaphysics (Do they incorporate a cognitive element? Do they necessarily involve an affect?), can they be assessed as (ir)rational? Can the emotions be directed at fictional characters? How can we account for the (puzzling) value, even enjoyment of the pain/suffering engendered by works of art?
We will examine more closely a particularly interesting, and perhaps atypical, emotion: love.
Requirements: participation in, and reading for, at least 2/3 of the meetings, two essays and a seminar paper.
The grade will be based on the two essays (1/3) and the seminar paper (2/3).

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Three Concepts of Liberty: Rousseau, Berlin & Foucault

Lecturer: Dr. Ilana Arbel

The seminar will examine the Humanist concept of liberty in the works of J. J. Rousseau; the concept of Liberalism in the works of Isaiah Berlin; and the Postmodern concept of liberty in the works of Michel Foucault. Parts of the required readings will be read in class.
Required reading list:
1. J. J. Rousseau: Discourse on the Arts and Sciences; Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men; The Social Contract
2. Isaiah Berlin: Two Concepts of Liberty
3. Michel Foucault: The History of Sexuality: The Will to Knowledge; What is Enlightenment?
4. Immanuel Kant: Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?

Lists of recommended reading for each philosopher will be handed out during the semester. The grade on your final paper will determined according your grade for the course.

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Walter Benjamin on Meaning and Truth

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Leibniz - Between Metaphysics and Ethics -- Seminar for BA Students

This seminar will introduce students to some of the central themes in the philosophy of Leibniz, with significant emphasis on the interrelations between them. Students will become acquainted with a wide range of issues in the Leibnizian framework, such as the possibility of human freedom, the ontological status of matter, mind-body relation, the problem of error, the principle of expression, the notion of perspective, the role of language, the relation between man and God etc. An emphasis will also be given to Leibniz's Ethical thinking, including self-other relation, the notion of love and its close affinity to the notion of justice, the nature of moral action, human striving for happiness, and how philosophy may be applied to the conduct of life.

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Psychoanalysis and Art
Psychoanalysis, that of Freud and of Lacan, is deeply interested in the nature of the creative/artistic act, and in the relations between the artwork, the artist and the works addressee. From Freuds notion of the uncanny to Lacans interpretation of Hamlet, from Freuds study of the case of Leonardo da Vinci to Lacans analysis of the gaze in pictures art is constituted as the symptom of its creator and as a mode of enjoyment and anxiety for its spectator.
The psychoanalytic approach to art establishes the foundations for an alternative aesthetics revealed both through the place assigned to pleasure and to other affects in the aesthetic domain and through the way the truth conveyed by art is conceived.

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The Role of Language in Negotiations in Arabic-Speaking Islam
Language, being the principle tool of negotiations, is viewed and used differently by different cultures, which makes inter-cultural communication a complicated business. The working-hypothesis of this seminar is that the said difficulty may be negotiated by acquaintance with the topic.
Among the issues examined are: Language and Negotiations; Perception, Classification, Characteristics, and use of Language; Language and Culture; Arabic and other languages.

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'The Republic' a Political Reading
Dr. Yiftah Goldman
'The Republic' is probably the most famous and most studied dialogue of Plato. But after ages of commentators and interpreters it remains fascinating, perplexing and enigmatic. What is this "City in Speech", established in the dialogue? What is its roll and how it stands in relation to actual regimes, in Plato's days and in ours?
The seminar will deal with various issues discussed in 'The Republic', namely the concept of justice, the essence of the state, the theory of political regimes and the censorship of fine art. But the main subject of the seminar will be the ideal polis described in the dialogue. We will ask whether this is an abstract utopia or a political program for a rectification of society.
We will also discuss the relevancy of Plato's dialogue, mainly through comparisons with later texts of political thought.

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Richards, I.A. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. Lecture V: Metaphor
Black, Max. Metaphor
Goodman, Nelson. Metaphors as Moonlighting
Goodman, Nelson. The Sounds of Pictures
Rorty, Richard: Unfamiliar Noises: Hesse and Davidson on Metaphor"
Davidson, Donald: "What Metaphors Mean"
Hesse Mary: "The Explanatory Function of Metaphor"
Beardsley, Monroe "Metaphor."
Lakoff George, Johnson Mark. Metaphors We Live By

/ 31.5.09.

Metaphors, Representations and Pictures

This seminar will analyze metaphor as a linguistic, aesthetic and artistic phenomenon, which is the meeting point of ordinary language and languages of art, of the literal and the visual, and syntax and semantics. We will analyze cognitive, semiotic, and pragmatic theories of metaphor, which characterizes metaphor not only as a rhetoric or decorative tool, but also as significant to scientific texts. We will seek after what allows metaphor to be a creative and instigating power in the development of language and art, whether it is an elaborate or opaque tool serving an extension and transmission of knowledge and information, or whether its value tantamount to holes filling in language and aesthetic-emotional effects.
We will conclude with an analysis of the formal-visual aspect of metaphor, comparing it to picture (including metaphorical art movement like Pop Art). We will ask what is aesthetic in metaphor, why it is central to aesthetic discussions and art criticism, why it is considered as capable beyond the literal representation, and what is its expressive source.

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Walter Benjamin: Philosophy and History
Seminar
The seminar will be devoted to a close reading of Walter Benjamin's On the Concept of History. Through this essay, the last text Benjamin write before his death, we will examine the relationship between philosophy and history, past and memory, trauma and repetition, hisotory and images, violence and life, melancholy and loss, nature and history. We will discuss Benjamin's unique conception of history on the background of other more main-stream conceptions, and we will attempt to understand the relationship Benjamin builds between history and ethical commitment in the personal and political sphere. The reading of On the Concept of History will be accompanied by further reading of other relevant texts by Benjamin and others.

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Kierkegaards religious existentialism

Kierkegaard is well-known as the founder of existentialism, a philosophical approach that was later followed by influential philosophers such as Heidegger and Sartre. However, while 20th century existentialism was emphatically secular, the existential motivation of Kierkegaard was unmistakably religious. In the seminar we will ask about the relation between existentialism and religiousness: how does Kierkegaards inquiry regarding the nature of a genuinely religious attitude develop into a theory of existentialism? Is it only accidental that the basis of a philosophy that focuses on human existence is a religious one? Is Kierkegaards religious existentialism relevant to the development of a secular way of existence? We will attempt to answer these questions by exploring two central concepts in the philosophy of Kierkegaard: faith and love. We will read closely major texts by Kierkegaard and inquire into the way in which love in its different forms (namely, love for God, neighbourly love, romantic love) can be understood as the essence of a correct form of life, as well as into the way that love functions as an interesting link between religiousness and ordinary experience.

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Necessarily necessary and soft necessity

Necessity (and its kin possibility) is a fundamental philosophical concept, one that could be found in any philosophical discussion. It is an old concept, but one that does not go out of (philosophical) fashion. Though rooted in modal logic, necessity is not limited to logical jargon. Different philosophers, in various contexts and perhaps in divergent meanings, have dealt with and made uses of necessity. During the course we will reveal some of the many facets of the concept of necessity; logical, physical, epistemic, linguistic-pragmatic, moral and juridical necessity are some of types of necessity philosophy offers. Is there a common characterization to all or some of the types of necessity, and if so, what is it? Is necessity an ambiguous concept, or are we dealing here with a multiplicity of concepts, related by family resemblance?

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Heidegger, Being and Time

A close reading of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time.

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The Problem of Consciousness
B.A. seminar
Dr. Yaron Senderowicz

The problem of consciousness is considered to be one of the central unsolved philosophical and scientific problems of our times. It is addressed by scientists and philosophers from various disciplines. The fact of consciousness is known to each of us. Indeed, a basic human intuition is that being conscious is central to the kind of metal beings that we are. But what distinguishes a conscious mental state from an unconscious state? What distinguishes a conscious creature from an unconscious one? Can one scientifically explain the qualitative character of conscious mental phenomena? Can one explain the subjectivity of conscious phenomena by means of the scientific conceptual tools? These questions and related question central to contemporary philosophy of mind will be discussed in the present seminar.

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Existential Issues from an Analytic Perspetive (M.A. Research Seminar):
It is often thought that analytic philosophy is mainly concerned with abstract issues, removed from real life, and even when it is (rarely) concerned with more practical questions, its treatment of them is arid and uninspiring. The purpose of this course is to examine this prevalent opinion by examining analytic treatments of several existential issues: death, the meaning of life, the rationality of emotions, determinism and free will and moral dilemmas.
The course is conducted in the format of individual tutorials, in preparation for each students are required to read a paper and submit an essay on it.
The grade will be based on the essays.

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Text, interpretation and Polemic.

The seminar is intended for students interested in improving their skills in critical appreciation of interpretative philosophical arguments.

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Spinoza's Notion of Salvation -- Seminar for MA Students
This seminar focuses on Spinoza's Ethics, especially on its last three parts. Significant emphasis will be paid to Spinoza's conception of the therapeutic function of philosophy; to how supreme happiness is possible through strict logical reasoning; what precisely is Spinoza's secular, atheistic version of the traditional-religious notion of salvation. The course will begin by reading Spinoza's earlier work, On the Improvement of the Understanding. However, most meetings will focus on the Ethics and on central secondary literature.

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Platos Republic

This seminar deals with Plato's most familiar dialogue: The Republic. The seminar inquires the utopian model of a state, which was proposed by Plato as an alternative to Athens at his time. In the seminar we read the dialogue in its order from book 1 to 10.

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Desire and Rationality (B.A. Seminar):

The (ir)rationality of belief is often discussed. This seminar will focus on the no less interesting but seemingly neglected analogous question about preferences and aims and their interaction with the rationality of belief:: Can aims/desires be assessed as (ir)rational? If so, does practical rationality exhausted by the (instrumentalist) choice of appropriate means to given ends, or is there a richer conception of practical rationality that renders some aims irrational? Are rational desires hedonistc? Can altruism be rational, or even rationally required? Is wishful-thinking - a belief shaped by a desire - ever rational?

Requirements: participation in, and reading for, at least 2/3 of the meetings, submitting two essays and a seminar paper.
The grade will be based on the two essays (1/3) and the seminar paper (2/3).

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Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit

Course Objectives: Introducing the foundations of Hegel's philosophy by reading selected chapters of his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807).
Method of Teaching: Introductory lectures, guided reading, classroom discussion and personal tutoring for writing seminar papers.
Main Text: Hegels Phenomenology of Spirit (tr. A.V.Miller). A Bibliography of secondary literature will be distributed at the beginning of the semester.
Student Assignment: A seminar or referat paper.

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Self and the Other in Arabic-speaking Islam

This seminar will examine perceptions of self and the Other in Arabic-Speaking Islam, in particular from the point of view of conflict and conflict management and resolution. Among the issues to be discussed collectivism and individualism, Islamic and Arab community; the concept of the Other in religious, national, political and personal contexts. Also, practical implications of the above concepts will be studied, such as political, legal, ethical and religious.
The seminar will consist of the teachers lectures, readings in translated texts, and lectures by the participants.

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Yoga Philosophy: A Close Reading

The seminar focuses on Patajali's Yogasūtra, a central text of the yoga tradition composed around the second or third century AD, and its numerous commentaries, ancient and modern. After a preliminary discussion of the Sānkhya Kārikā, We shall closely read Patajali's short (merely 196 verses) yet extremely condensed yoga-treatise (in my own Hebrew translation) to examine the philosophical and often psychological questions which the author endeavors to deal with. In the process of reading the text, class after class, we will get acquainted with basic yoga notions such as puruşa (Selfhood), prakŗti (the 'objective' world around and within us) and kaivalya ('aloneness', freedom), and follow Patajali's 'correspondence' with the Sānkhya tradition and the Buddhists. I will argue that for Patajali, freedom is an acquired capacity of disengaging objects; of disconnecting or withdrawing the senses from their objects; of suspending ordinary sense-perception (pratyakşa) in favor of 'yogic perception' (prajā). To clarify my argument, I will spotlight Patajali's clear-cut distinction between puruşa and prakŗti, one's 'true selfhood' opposite everything which-is-not-the-self or everything which can be objectified. Together we shall try to figure out what it means to objectify/be objectified, a mechanism closely related in Patajali's thought to the notions of identification and 'appropriation'. Finally, we shall make an attempt at understanding the prajā-notion, replacing sense-perception in the yogi's consciousness, and consequently to sketch the yogi's 'empty world' derived from this non-conventional knowledge-mode. As an appendix to the extended discussion of Patajali's Yogasūtra, we will briefly discuss the contemporary yoga philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, and perhaps even touch on the role and place of yoga in the present-day encounter between India and the west.

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Philosophy and Poetry

The "ancient quarrel" between philosophy and poetry not only marks an intrinsic tension, but also the presence of an intimacy, that exists between these two ways of making the world meaningful. The seminar is intended for students who are already well acquainted with poetry and who are interested in the possibility of thinking and writing philosophically about the poetic. The seminar will take the form of a workshop in which students' work is presented and discussed.

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The Metaphysics of Time
M.A. tutorial
Dr. Yaron Senderowicz

The concept of time is one of the central concepts of physics, metaphysics, and phenomenology. In the present seminar we will address some of the questions discussed in philosophy in the 20th century. Among the issues that will be discussed: time and tense, the status of temporal becoming, time and objectivity, time and consciousness of time. Some of the texts that will be discussed belong to the analytic tradition in philosophy and some to the phenomenological tradition.
The seminar is a tutorial. The students are required to write two short papers. Each paper will be separately discussed in a personal meeting.

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Meta-Philosophy - A tutorial for MA students.

This seminar focuses on how philosophy relates of itself. Various contemporary attitudes are discussed concerning the nature and goals of philosophy today: what is philosophy in fact, and what ought philosophy to be? Is philosophy a purely theoretical activity, or does it have practical application? To what extent should philosophy be considered an independent discipline? Is there any philosophical progress? What kind of relation should exist between philosophy and the conduct of life?
The first meeting introduces students to these and other related questions and provides them with a recommended bibliographical list. Every student is then required to choose one question and write a paper which analyzes rival current attitudes regarding it. The paper will be written progressively, under personal guidance.

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Life and Meaning

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Emotion and Language

This research seminar will examine the hypothesis that emotions constitute an important component in words meaning. The proportion of emotions in equivalent words in different languages is not the same, which makes a genuine inter-cultural communication fundamentally difficult.
Issues to be addressed in the seminar: examination of the hypothesis; translation; meaning, and methodology.

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Plato and Aristotel on Ideal State

The purpose of the seminar is to discuss Plato's idea of the Ideal State, its criticism by Aristotle, and Aristotle's own view of the best social and political order.

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The Humbleness of Our Opinions

The keystone for dialogue in philosophy as well as in daily encounters lies in a presupposition regarding sharing a language and an ability to comprehend each other's experience. In philosophy we aspire at understanding ideas belonging to cultures, religions, and perceptions, which are not our own. In the seminar we will examine our possibility for understanding others.
We will examine our presuppositions regarding understanding through examples from Chinese philosophies. We will apply attitudes such as those of Wittgenstein, Collingwood, Winch, Buber and others. Students who wish to deal with texts in Chinese can do so.
The grade is determined according to active participation, presentation in class, and final paper.

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The Gaze: Philosophical Perspectives

Ever since Sartre's philosophy of the gaze, French philosophy has been consistently preoccupied with the question of vision and visuality. The seminar will focus on contemporary French philosophy with emphasis on the intersection of two domains of questions: on the one hand, questions concerning the essence of vision, what it means to see, what vision is, etc; and then, a family of question with an ethical edge: how does the other person appear to the human eye? How does the self appear to itself (Narcissism)? What is the relationship between visuality and the appearance of the human? Does otherness register in the visual field? What does it mean to see you?
Reading includes texts by: Bataille, Merleau-Ponty, Barthes, Levinas, Deleuze, Derrida

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http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Becoming-Chinese-Philosophy-Culture/dp/0791462293/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-7

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Early-Chinese-Thought-Kwong-loi/dp/0804740178/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-8

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Questions-Integration-Philosophies-Whitehead/dp/1419628356/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-10

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Foundations-Ethics-Ashgate-Philosophy/dp/0754604063/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219130334&sr=1-14

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Masculinities-Dynamics-Morality-Philosophy/dp/079147030X/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-6

/ 31.5.09.

Reading Mencius Book 7 as an hermeneutic source for interpreting the Analects of Confucius

in the light of the following books which have been recently published about Mencius:

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Interpretations-Alan-Kam-Leung-Chan/dp/082482377X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219130602&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Becoming-Chinese-Philosophy-Culture/dp/0791462293/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-7

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Early-Chinese-Thought-Kwong-loi/dp/0804740178/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-8

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Questions-Integration-Philosophies-Whitehead/dp/1419628356/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-10

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Foundations-Ethics-Ashgate-Philosophy/dp/0754604063/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219130334&sr=1-14

http://www.amazon.com/Mencius-Masculinities-Dynamics-Morality-Philosophy/dp/079147030X/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219129921&sr=1-6


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Kant on Reason and Freedom
M.A. Seminar
Dr. Yaron Senderowicz

This seminar addresses a variety of issues linked to Kants concept of reason. We will discuss the distinction between the faculties of reason, of the understanding, and of intuition, the connection between reason and the variety of metaphysical problems discussed in the dialectic of pure reason in the Critique of Pure Reason, the nature of transcendental illusions and their positive role, the regulative role of reason in science etc. Special attention will be given to the connection between reason and freedom as manifested in Kants moral theory. In this context we will address the relationships and differences between practical freedom and transcendental freedom and more generally the link between reason and metaphysics. The texts include selected chapters from the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason and related writing.

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Hope, Desperation, Absurdism

Course Objectives: Introducing the philosophical concepts of "utopia"' "hope" and "absurdism".
Course Topics: Rousseau's concept of liberation; Utopian-Utopist Socialism (Babeuf, Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen); Marx' critic of Utopist Socialism and his concept of "The Realm of Freedom"; Ideology and Utopia (K.Mannheim); Aesthetic Utopia (Schiller, Breton); The concept of hope by Bloch; Camus' concept of Revolt and Absurdism; "End of Utopia" by Marcuse.
Method of Teaching: Introductory lectures, guided reading, classroom discussion and personal tutoring for writing seminar papers.
A Bibliography of primary and secondary literature will be distributed at the beginning of the semester.
Student Assignment: A seminar or referat paper.

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Philosophy or History?
Methodological issues in the study of ancient philosophy

The course focuses on the question whether the philosophy of the past should be approach from a philosophical or historical point of view. Throughout the course the students will be asked to read and analyzed various studies that apply either a historical or a philosophical methodology to ancient philosophical texts.

Obligations: Students will submit two essays, which will determine their final mark; the first amounts to 40% and the second to 60% of the final mark.

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The concept of truth is central to philosophy and essential in the canonical articulation of some of philosophy's main subjects, including the analysis of knowledge, the notions of representation, theory or inquiry, validity and logical consequence. But it is unclear how our understanding of the concept of truth itself may be informed by a theory, a definition, or an analysis of it. Some philosophers have argued that truth cannot be analyzed, that it is a folly to try to define it, or that it is unique and sui generis, while others have advanced substantive analyses of the concept of truth in terms of something else. This seminar covers many of these views and explores some of their underlying motivations.

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On Good and Evil: Spinoza and Nietzsche
Dr. Shai Frogel
Spinoza and Nietzsche claim that the concepts of good and evil are outcomes of human psychology. Yet, they don't define these concepts in the same way since they hold different psychological views. Spinoza, due to his psychological view, claims for universal concepts of good and evil whereas Nietzsche, according to his psychological view, totally negates this possibility. We will read from parts three and four of Spinoza's Ethics and selective sections from Nietzsche's books Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals.

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Title of Seminar: Perception in Contemporary Philosophy of Mind
After a long period of comparative neglect, leading philosophers of mind began to reconsider the subject of perception in the recent decades, sometimes in collaboration with neuro-scientists and computer scientists, and sometimes on the basis of Wittgensteinian and other critiques of traditional epistemology. This seminar will look at a few of the leading recent schools of thought, and also study work in progress by the lecturer.

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Jean-Luc Nancy: The Grounds of the Image

A close reading and discussion of texts by French philosopher, Jean-Luc Nancy that focus on the place and essence of the visual, on the grounds and future of the image in contemporary culture.

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This seminar in aesthetics uses as its textbook an unpublished manuscript, written in English, called ART WITHOUT BORDERS: A Philosophical Exploration of Art and Humanity. The book's chapters are 1 An Open Aesthetics, 2 Selfless Tradition, 3 Egocentric Innovation, 4 Intersecting Traditions and Identities, 5 The Common Universe of Aesthetics. Two short recent books, written in Hebrew, by the same author are also used, Spontaneity in Art, and Birds, Elephants, and Other Artists. Both European and non-European cultures are drawn on, as well as the cultures of certain non-human animals. Class sessions are mostly general discussions among teacher and students based on previously read material. A developed yearly essay and brief, one-page weekly essays are required. At the teacher's discretion, new students may be admired for the second semester.

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Research Seminar: Knowledge and Innovation in Philosophy

First Semester, 2008-2009

The topic of the research seminar this year is the question whether there is such a thing as philosophical knowledge, and if so, what characterizes it. Assuming that there is philosophical knowledge, the further question is how it advances. In other words, what is philosophical innovation and how such innovations arise. These questions can be approached in many ways e.g., historical, developmental, sociological, etc. The seminar, however, will undertake to focus on issues internal to its topic. For example, what is philosophical knowledge, what are its defining features, how does it resemble and differ from other kinds of knowledge (scientific, mathematical, juridical, technological, etc.), how does philosophical knowledge acquires the special status of accepted knowledge, and what amounts to an innovation that conceptually, methodically, or otherwise advances in a significant way philosophical knowledge. Although it is preferable that students address head on, with their analytic skills, these and directly related questions, research proposals devoted to investigate them in the context of an important philosophical text, an important philosopher, or an important philosophical school will also be accepted.
The seminar consists basically in individual work with each registered student. In an initial collective session (whose schedule will be published at the beginning of the academic year), the students will each present their background and domains of interests. They should prepare two or three ideas along which they would like to develop their work. In the next two sessions these ideas will be individually discussed with each student. After the approval of the research project, drafts of parts of the seminar paper will be submitted and commented. Before the end of the semester a draft of the complete paper will be handed over and discussed. This kind of tutorial work is designed to help the student to select a philosophical topic of his interest (possibly connected to his/her planned M.A. dissertation), to locate relevant current bibliography, to identify and formulate the problem involved, and to express himself/herself rigorously and clearly.

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Pragmatics and Practical Reason
Prof. Marcelo Dascal

Traditionally practical reason is associated with ethics. The objective of this seminar is to discuss the relationship between practical rationality and language. Many of our actions including the mental ones are either straightforwardly linguistic or else mediated by language. A good deal of the classical problems of practical reason are thus connected to issues related to the use of language, i.e., to pragmatics. There is thus an intrinsic link between the nature of practical reason and the rationality of pragmatics. The exploration of this link should, therefore, contribute to the clarification of the nature of rationality in both domains and help to deal with some of the still open problems in them.

Bibliography

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics
Aristotle, Rhetoric
Brandom, R., Actions, norms, and practical reasoning, in Milgram (ed.)
Dascal, M., Interpretation and Understanding
Dascal, M., Debating with myself and debating with others, in Barrotta and Dascal (eds.), Controversies and Subjectivity
Grice, P., Studies in the Way of Words
Grice, P., Aspects of Reason
Hacking, I., Multiple personalities, internal controversies, and invisible marvels, in Machamer, Pera, and Baltas (eds.), Scientific Controversies: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives
Harman, G., Notes on Practical Reasoning
Milgram E. (ed.), Varieties of Practical Reasoning
Searle, J.R., Rationality in Action
Thagard, P., How to make decisions: Coherence, emotion, and practical inference, in Milgram (ed.)

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For hundreds of years, consciousness was considered a mystery that cannot be scientifically studied, but in the last two decades many neuroscientist describe it as the most important challenge science is facing. This course will try to untangle the concept of consciousness. We will examine the philosophical assumptions underlying the studies aimed at finding the neural correlate of conscious experience, and their implications on the psychophysical problem. Among others, the course will deal with the following matters: Qualia, explanatory gap and introspection.

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History, Politics and Ethics

Course Objectives: Introducing the relationship between history, politics and ethics in various political concepts of modern western philosophy.
Course Topics: Kant between moral politics and political ethics; Hegel "Morality" and "Ethical Life"; Marx critic of the state and morality as ideology; Popper critic of Historicism; Marcuse one dimensional society.
Method of Teaching: Lectures, guided reading and classroom discussion.
Literature: Selected chapters of the above philosophers' writings, inter alia: Kant, Perpetual Peace; Hegel, Philosophy of Right; Marx, The Manifesto of the Communist Party; Popper, The Poverty of Historicism; Marcuse, One Dimensional Man. The bibliography will be distributed at the beginning of the semester.
Student Assignment: A classroom-exam.

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Emotions were the focus of intense debates in medieval and early modern philosophy. Tho-mas Aquinas, William Ockham, Ren Descartes, Baruch de Spinoza and many other philoso-phers explored the nature of emotions, the role they play in our mental life and the impact they have on our actions. Scholastic and modern thinkers did not confine themselves to de-scribing particular emotions but analyzed them within the framework of a comprehensive theory of the mind. As soon as this theory changed, the explanation of emotions changed as well. Therefore, one needs to look at the transformation of the theoretical framework (e.g., the transition from Aristotelian to Dualist and Monist theories of the mind), if one wants to un-derstand the crucial changes that took place in the period between 1250 and 1650.

This course will focus on four prominent philosophers in the discussions on emotions, paying particular attention to their metaphysical framework. We will deal with the following prob-lems:
1. The nature of emotions: How was the ontological status of emotions explained? How were emotions related to beliefs, wishes, sensations and other mental states? And what place was assigned to bodily aspects of emotions?
2. The causal mechanism of emotions: What kind of causal story did medieval and early modern philosophers tell about emotions? What role did perceptions and beliefs play in this story? And what were emotions supposed to cause in turn?
3. The responsibility for emotions: Were emotions taken to be passive states that simply affect us? Or were they considered to be states that we can actively control? And if so, how far reaches this control? Can we be blamed if we fail to control them?

We will discuss these questions on the basis of a close reading of selected texts by Aquinas, Ockham, Descartes and Spinoza (see list of primary sources). No special knowledge of these authors or their intellectual background is required. All texts are available in English transla-tion. Knowledge of Latin and French is helpful but not necessary.

Literature
Primary sources

Descartes, R., The Passions of the Soul, in: The Philosophical Writings, vol. 1, transl. by J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge Univer-sity Press 1985.
Spinoza, B., Ethics, in: A Spinoza Reader, transl. by E. Curley, Princeton: Princeton Univer-sity Press 1994.
Thomas Aquinas, The Emotions, in: Summa Theologiae, vol. 19, transl. by E. DArcy, Cam-bridge & New York: Cambridge University Press 2006.
William of Ockham, Quodlibetal Questions, transl. by A. Freddoso & F. E. Kelley, New Ha-ven & London: Yale University Press 1991.

Secondary literature (only introductions and surveys, a detailed list for each author will be provided at the beginning of the course)

Brown, D. J., Descartes and the Passionate Mind, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge Uni-versity Press 2006.
Della Rocca, M., Spinoza, London & New York: Routledge 2008.
James, S., Passion and Action. The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon 1997.
Knuuttila, S., Emotions in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon 2004.
Lagerlund, H. & Yrjnsuuri, M. (eds.), Emotions and Choice from Boethius to Descartes, Dordrecht: Kluwer 2002.


- 7 1.5.09-18.6.09

Emotions were the focus of intense debates in medieval and early modern philosophy. Tho-mas Aquinas, William Ockham, Ren Descartes, Baruch de Spinoza and many other philoso-phers explored the nature of emotions, the role they play in our mental life and the impact they have on our actions. Scholastic and modern thinkers did not confine themselves to de-scribing particular emotions but analyzed them within the framework of a comprehensive theory of the mind. As soon as this theory changed, the explanation of emotions changed as well. Therefore, one needs to look at the transformation of the theoretical framework (e.g., the transition from Aristotelian to Dualist and Monist theories of the mind), if one wants to un-derstand the crucial changes that took place in the period between 1250 and 1650.

This course will focus on four prominent philosophers in the discussions on emotions, paying particular attention to their metaphysical framework. We will deal with the following prob-lems:
1. The nature of emotions: How was the ontological status of emotions explained? How were emotions related to beliefs, wishes, sensations and other mental states? And what place was assigned to bodily aspects of emotions?
2. The causal mechanism of emotions: What kind of causal story did medieval and early modern philosophers tell about emotions? What role did perceptions and beliefs play in this story? And what were emotions supposed to cause in turn?
3. The responsibility for emotions: Were emotions taken to be passive states that simply affect us? Or were they considered to be states that we can actively control? And if so, how far reaches this control? Can we be blamed if we fail to control them?

We will discuss these questions on the basis of a close reading of selected texts by Aquinas, Ockham, Descartes and Spinoza (see list of primary sources). No special knowledge of these authors or their intellectual background is required. All texts are available in English transla-tion. Knowledge of Latin and French is helpful but not necessary.

Literature
Primary sources

Descartes, R., The Passions of the Soul, in: The Philosophical Writings, vol. 1, transl. by J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, D. Murdoch, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge Univer-sity Press 1985.
Spinoza, B., Ethics, in: A Spinoza Reader, transl. by E. Curley, Princeton: Princeton Univer-sity Press 1994.
Thomas Aquinas, The Emotions, in: Summa Theologiae, vol. 19, transl. by E. DArcy, Cam-bridge & New York: Cambridge University Press 2006.
William of Ockham, Quodlibetal Questions, transl. by A. Freddoso & F. E. Kelley, New Ha-ven & London: Yale University Press 1991.

Secondary literature (only introductions and surveys, a detailed list for each author will be provided at the beginning of the course)

Brown, D. J., Descartes and the Passionate Mind, Cambridge & New York: Cambridge Uni-versity Press 2006.
Della Rocca, M., Spinoza, London & New York: Routledge 2008.
James, S., Passion and Action. The Emotions in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon 1997.
Knuuttila, S., Emotions in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, Oxford: Clarendon 2004.
Lagerlund, H. & Yrjnsuuri, M. (eds.), Emotions and Choice from Boethius to Descartes, Dordrecht: Kluwer 2002.


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This course is devoted to discussing the basic philosophical issues related with the question of mathematical knowledge: what is the nature of this kind of knowledge? How it is possible? What is different and what is common to mathematical knowledge and other kinds of scientific knowledge? Is mathematical knowledge certain? If so: what is the source of this certainty? What is the subject matter of mathematics?

The course discusses various traditional approaches to answering these kinds of questions, while trying to disclose their strengths and weaknesses. Two main filed of mathematical knowledge are at the focus of discussion: geometry and arithmetic.

Students with strong backgrounds in either mathematics or philosophy will be able to connect in a significant way the topics discussed in the course with their own background knowledge. Nevertheless, the course does not assume previous knowledge in either field, and all the necessary concepts will be defined and discussed from scratch.


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Values and Facts: The Popper-Adorno Debate

In 1961 the German Sociological Association in Tbingen convened in order to discuss the nature of methodology in the social sciences, bringing together two prominent figures and intellectual poles in Western thought: the social critical-theoretician Theodor W. Adorno and the critical-rationalist philosopher of science Karl R. Popper. One of the central themes in this heated debate was the conflict between values and facts, with Popper as the representative of the positivist approach which insists on a strict separation between scientific and non-scientific considerations, and Adorno as representative of the dialectical approach which claims for mutual and unavoidable mediation between values and facts. Albeit the immediate sociological context, it was evident to all participants in the convention that this was a fundamental debate about the nature of scientific knowledge. The debate and Adornos dialectical critique in specific will serve to examine the difference between the fact-value relation in the natural and in the social sciences and to tackle with the question whether values are indeed a kind of subjective nuisance in the world of facts or are they inseparable of facts and reflect the social or psychological conditioning mechanisms which affect both the investigator and the objects of investigation.

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The Individual in modern Jewish culture

Aims: This course will introduce students to different individualistic venture points to being a Jew. This will include the writings of salient Jewish thinkers and philosophers, such as Spinoza, Buber, Rosenzweig, Soloveitchik and Fraud.

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Introduction to Postmodern Philosophy

The purpose of this course is to articulate what is meant by the postmodern and postmodernism, to read a number of contemporary theorists, and to explore how these terms are appropriate for the reading of literary, art, architectural, and theoretical texts. But, what does it mean to be postmodern? What are the differences between the modern and the postmodern? What is the relation between postmodernism and post modernity? How have those differences been articulated by various contemporary philosophical, and art theorists? In what sense are there different postmodernism? In the post-Sept 11 world, how does postmodern thinking help to understand these significant events in contemporary cultures and societies? Initial focus will be on specific philosophers such as Foucault and Derrida, following the exploration of how aims, characteristics, and kinds of philosophic inquiry are linked to political and social considerations. Attention will turn toward the status of several prominent kinds of philosophical analysis within phenomenology and existentialism, among others, within each of these kinds, (1) conceptions of self, subjectivity, or (self)-consciousness, and intersubjectivity, (2) the analysis and role of language and art in philosophical inquiry, and (3) critiques of metaphysics.

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Introduction to Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of oration, and indeed was identified originally with the orators and their practice. Yet, during the history of western thought different thinkers have presented different view concerning its essence, its goal and its subjects.
The course presents, historically and philosophically, the central rhetorical views from ancient time to Perelman's "new rhetoric" of the twentieth century. It discusses the views of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Augustine, Ramus, Bacon, Campbell, Nietzsche and Chaim Perelman.

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Jacques Lacan

The course will be dedicated to a presentation of the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan (1901-1981), the radical French psychoanalyst. During the course, we will examine Lacans iconoclastic, perhaps even Jewish, attitude that emphasizes the Symbolic (instead of the Imaginary) order, the role of language and the Fathers position in relation to the subject. To that end, we will read texts such as Mirror Stage (1936), Seminar III Psychoses (1955-6), Seminar XI (1964), and a special attention, naturally, will be given to Lacans Introduction to the Names-of-the-Father Seminar (1963).

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Meaning in Life: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives

Aims: This course will introduce students to fundamental philosophical and psychological theories on the meaning to life. This will include the writings of salient philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Pascal, Shopenhauer, Nietzshe, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein and Camus; and renowned psychologists, such as Fraud, Jung, James, Fromm, Frankel and Yalom.

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Existential Philosophy and the Jewish Question A reading in J.-P. Sartres Thought

The course will address Sartres philosophy as a post World War II philosophy which is trying to rethink the fundamental question of ethics (mainly in Being and Nothingness). This attempt is coupled in Sartres thought with an original effort to think the Jewish question anew (as formulated in his Reflexions sur la question juive). Those two aspects of Sartres philosophy (the question of ethics and the jewish question) and the way they interact, will be the subject of our study.

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Freuds Cases
In this seminar we will read Freuds main cases: the case of Dora, of the Wolf man, of the Rat man, Little Hans and Schreber. Through the analysis of these cases Freud constructed his idea of psychic structures: from hysteria and obsession through perversion to psychosis. In this seminar we will follow Freuds cases and study also their later interpretations, especially those given by Jacques Lacan. Through this analysis the philosophical implications to be drawn from the cases regarding the conception of subjectivity will be disclosed.
The topics to be dealt with in this seminar are: what is the story of a case? In what sense does the case represent or constitute a subject? What is the purpose of the analytic process following these cases? How does the analytic discourse relate to the analysts interpretations and to the truth of the subject? Is the case universal or particular? Is the symptom an analytic invention or a pre-given entity?

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The Beauty of the Imperfect

The course will survey Japanese aesthetic theories, particularly those which were inspired by Zen Buddhism. While reading works of art from literature, poetry, architecture, ceramics, gardens, painting, tea ceremony and more, we shall discuss the philosophical as well as aesthetic aspects of aesthetic and philosophical values of Japanese art: the values of the imperfect, the simple, the raw, the old, the mysterious, the serene and quiet, as well as the place of the empty space, the coincidental and the spontaneous in the work of art and aesthetic theory.

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"Love, Truth and Blood in Classical Indian Literature"

This class will journey through the realms of Indian literature. The heroes of classical Indian masterpieces inhabit a unique place somewhere between the human and the divine: the gods suffer from inner conflict and are morally handicapped, the humans possess supernatural power and insight. All together they search for love and truth, looking to transcend their structural limitations. For instance, the great god Shiva pursues Parvati's love so as to escape the intensity of his meditation. The Buddha leaves his wife and child in order to find pleasure beyond the one the senses afford. In stark opposition, his students seek rebirth in Buddhist heaven, where all desires are naturally fulfilled. But the search for wholeness always carries a painful cost: Rama looses his kingdom and wife, and after fighting to retrieve her abandons her to the beasts of the forest, wondering if she remained pure. The heroes of the Mahabharata all die in the name of cosmic law. The great poet Kalidasa seems to have believed the love is only truly fulfilled in separation, and the line between love and treachery is ill-defined. In this class we will examine the Indian view of love and truth through the reading of stories of these sorts.

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"The Gods Feared Deathand Entered the Vedas": Language, Myth, and Ritual in Ancient India

A contemporary leading Indologist characterized Hinduism as: Hinduism is the religion of those humans who create, perpetuate, and transform traditions with legitimizing reference to the authority of the Veda. If there is some truth to this assertion, then a deeper understanding of the Hindu traditions is conditioned by a better acquaintance with the Vedic culture. This culture formed complex liturgical, ritualistic, linguistic, social, and ideological systems that, unlike what is generally assumed, have never ceased to play a role within the cultural sphere in India.
In this course we will focus on the main features of the Vedic culture, as they are understood from reading in the Vedic literature and the leading scholarly works on it. While reading together in a variety of translated Vedic texts, we will discuss some of the central points in Vedic world view, such as the ritual, the sacrifice, characteristics and status of language, the rich mythology, and the cosmology that connects humans with their surrounding. We will also touch some historical and sociological aspects of this culture.

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Cinema with a "Way"

We tend to believe that the way (dao) cannot be learned, and yet some teachers give us clues to it, and we are invited to follow and learn something. The clues can be found in nature, in stories, in arts and in other human deeds.
The proseminar takes cinema as its point of departure, presupposing that it gives some clues regarding the world view of dao. During the course we will watch scenes from movies by Chinese directors such as Chen Kaige, Dai Sijie, Zhang Yimou, Xie Fei, Wang Xiaoshuai and others. We will explore the main ideas presented in the movies, trying to respond to questions such as: Can "way" be taught? If it can, is cinema a proper means for it? How? Can academic methodologies enhance learning? In what ways?
Active participation is demanded in the course.


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The Great Indian Epics

The seminar is dedicated to India's 'great epics', the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyana. We shall read key-episodes and discuss existential questions which they raise regarding human nature and the tension between dharma ('life and living in the world') and mokşa ('freedom', 'trans-worldliness'). We shall further discuss literary techniques and storytelling 'secrets', philosophical and psychological dimensions of the 'great stories' and modern versions of the epics in cinematic and contemporary literature forms. Peter Brook's Mahabhharata, Subhash Ghai's Khal Nayak ('The Villain') and Vikram Chandra's Red Earth and Pouring Rain are three examples of modern interpretations of 'epic India'.

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The Drunken, the Thief, and the Hunchbacked Woman

In order to demonstrate human perfection Zhuangzi recruits real and imaginary friends among whom we can find his Master, Laozi and perhaps his opponent Confucius as well, his close friend the logician Huizi, the Yellow Emperor, The huge bird Peng and the fish in the river, The lute player Mr. Chao Wen, the acclaimed orchestra conductor Kuang, cook Ding, beautiful Xishi, the hunchbacked woman, a drunken, robber Zhi, and above all, Hun Dun ("Chaos"). In the seminar we will explore the role of these figures in Zhuangzi's philosophy. Does everybody have a "way"? Can we understand it through the different personalities? Who is Hun Dun and what is his role in the doctrine?
Active participation is demanded in the course.

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Comparative Approaches to India‏ (06874413)

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The Course will focus on areas which reflect fairly long-standing research interests in South Asia, reworked to provide evidence of India's distinctive yet dialogic presence in the world today. Unlike conservative Area Studies, "India" will provide a pedagogic focus for the Course as a relational subject field, not so much a territorial nation-state. It will make no claims to historical or geographic comprehensiveness . Instead, teaching methodologies will deploy text, "thick" description and example or symbol to encourage students to re-think the "India" of popular and specialist imagining. Film, journal article, news report and the internet, will all serve this overall goal. Students will be encouraged to participate both through individual and team presentations and discussions on self-chosen themes, which enlarge the comparative scope of classroom and curricular content of the Course.
Within this broad framework,the topics to be examined in some detail are:
1)FAMILY WOMEN & RELIGION ( discussing the Hindu devadasi, Brahmin wife and 'missing' daughter of Sikhism ).
2)BUSINESS & POLITICS (discussing Information Technology (IT), development and the Service Economy under liberalisation).
3)KNOWLEDGE & SOCIETY (discussing the institutionalisation of English medium education and the continuing biases of sociology/anthropology) 4)ART & CIVILISATION (discussing 'classical'dance, contemporary painting)

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What is Judaism and who are the Jews?
An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought

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  • ' ' 01/03/2009 9:00
  • ' ' 22/05/2009 9:00

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What is Judaism and who are the Jews?
An Introduction to Modern Jewish Thought

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  • ' ' 25/06/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 26/07/2009 9:00

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Introduction to Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy
Prof. Sara Klein-Braslavy



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  • ' ' 15/02/2009 12:30
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Introduction to Jewish Mediaeval Philosophy
Prof. Sara Klein-Braslavy


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  • ' ' 15/07/2009 12:30
  • ' ' 17/08/2009 12:30

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Readings in Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed
It is well known that Maimonides is the foremost Jewish scholar of all time and one of the greatest philosophers of the Jewish world. The purpose of the lesson is to study Maimonides' thought, especially through his Guide of the Perplexed, but also through his other works: The Commentary on the Mishnah, the Mishne Torah and his varies letters.

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Miaimonides and Wittgensten
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Secular Religiosity and the Quest for Meaning in Modern Jewish Thought

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