Philosophy has always been modulated by culture and has modulated it. Despite their abstraction, philosophical ideas are, above all, a reflection on time, and as such they intertwine with social issues, politics, literature, and art in general, contributing to the creation and understanding of the historical experience of each moment and place. The course focuses on seven moments and cities where Western culture has been especially significant -when it has not only flourished but has also experienced crucial transformations affecting social and economic life as much as the creativity of human spirit. Notice that for each city and year, we¿ll be studying authors and philosophers who do not strictly belong to that place ¬¿Not every rationalist lived in Amsterdam, Kant was never in Jena, Heidegger was not in Berlin, Marx was, for a while, but not in the 1920s. And the places we study do not follow a chronological order. For reasons we¿ll have to explain, Athens and Ancient Greece are dealt with after Romanticism and the 19th century. This is not strictly a history of philosophy. The aim is to study some relevant cultural contexts in connection with the philosophical ideas that have been created by them and have influenced them. Such cultural contexts correspond to concrete cities in a concrete historical time; they are significant in themselves, but also have been decisive for understanding modernity and for understanding ourselves today.
1. AMSTERDAM 1650
Early Modernity. Descartes, the New Science, and the New Philosophy. The Cogito and the modern subjectivity.
Reading: Russell Shorto, Descartes¿ Bones. Preface and First Chapter
Consequences of Cartesianism. What the World looks like after Descartes
Reading: Russell Shorto, Decartes¿ Bones. Chapters 2 and 3
2. PARIS, 1750
European 18th century. Light and shade of the Enlightenment.
Reading: Rousseau, Letter to M. D'Alembert on Spectacles
Not only reason, but also sentiment and subjectivity.
Taylor, Charles, Sources of the Self, Chapter17, ¿The Culture of Modernity¿
3. JENA 1800
The late Kant. How Reason and Enlightenment paved the way to Romanticism
Reading: Burke, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, parts I and I
Romanticism. Dreams, nightmares, and monsters
Reading: Schiller, Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. Parts I-III.
4. ATHENS, 400 B.C.E¿ Modern Europe
Tragedy ancient and modern. Why Greece matters.
Reading. Sophocles, Antigona.
5. VIENNA 1900
Where our (still) modern culture begins. Vienna at the turn of the century
Reading: Janik&Toulmin Wittgenstein¿s Vienna, chapter
Nietzsche, Freud, Wittgenstein. How to understand the 20th centu
Reading: Freud, Civilizations and its discontents, chapters 1-3.
6. BERLIN 1930
Marxism and the revolutionary perspective
Reading: Peter Gay, Weimar Culture, Chapter 4, ¿The Hunger for Wholeness¿
Heidegger. The question for Being and the other side of culture
Reading: Heidegger, Time and Being §§ 25-27.
Benjamin and Critical Theory
Reading: Walter Benjamin, Experience and Poverty
7. NEW YORK 1970
From critical theory to Postmodernism
Reading: Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism