SYLLABI: ANCIENT, MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY
Please, note that these syllabi have been approved by NYU-Liberal Studies.
Syllabus - Contemporary Philosophy (Social Foundation 3)
Course Description From Humanism to Posthumanism
This course develops around the notion of the human, presenting it not as a static category, but as a process which is constantly evolving. In the first part of the course, we will explore key concepts such as: evolution (Darwin), the overhuman (Nietzsche), technology (Heidegger). In parallel, we will address the notion of the posthuman which, in the contemporary debate, has become a key term to cope with the urgency for an integral redefinition of the human. The philosophical landscape which has developed, includes several schools of thought such as: Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism and New Materialism. We will explore the differences between these movements, entering actively into the debate. In the second part of the course, we will address the deconstruction of the notion of the human, following different assets of discrimination: class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and physical abilities, among others. From Marx and Engels, we will explore the Seventies and Eighties (Feminism, Critical Race Theory, Post-Colonialism) to the Nineties (Intersectionality, Cyborg Theory, Animal Studies). In the third part of the course, we will focus on Environmental Studies and the rise of the Anthropocene in relation to contemporary issues such as human enhancement, artificial intelligence and space migration, developing an open conversation to envision desirable futures for humans and posthumans alike. Among the themes the course explores are the philosophical and political debates that followed the creation of global empires, as societies from around the world confronted imperial policies and institutions. The course also considers the rise of vast, new international markets, the spread of revolutionary and national liberation movements, and the planetary effects of globalization. The course will provide an interactive environment where students directly engage with the contemporary debate. In four workshops, we will discuss crucial topics such as human diversity (Politics), the “pros and cons” of human enhancement (Bioethics), space migration (Futures Studies), and how to move towards an equal and just posthuman society (Ethics & Pragmatics). This course will enrich each participant in their intellectual, existential and social perspectives, realizing that we all have agency in the developments of the futures.
Syllabus - Medieval and Modern Philosophy (Social Foundation 2)
Course Description The Meaning of Life: Between Faith, Reason and Visions
Human existence is characterized by the unknown: the great mystery of life and death. Throughout time and space, many great thinkers, visionaries and philosophers have offered their perspectives on the meaning of life. This course explores some of the answers given from different religious, social, ethnic and political backgrounds: from the birth of Islam to the discovery of the Americas, from the visions of Christian female mystics, to the Tibetan Buddhist reflection on death; from the emphasis on human free will of the Renaissance to the focus on divine predestination of the Reformation. This course invites students to consider great ideas that have often helped earlier peoples organize their lives, but which have also set them in conflict, sometimes with other communities, sometimes among themselves. Such ideas have sparked movements for ethical and social reform, for conquest, for the recovery of lost classics, and for religious renewal. Religious conflicts lead to civil war, and modern science emerges as a challenge to traditional beliefs. Throughout, different conceptions of human nature emerge and collide. Oppression gives rise to new movements for greater equality and individual rights, and bitter struggles for power lead to the creation of large new colonial empires, whose effects linger to the present day. This course takes a global perspective and uses an interdisciplinary approach; students are expected to consider these ideas and developments critically, with an eye to their philosophical, political and historical significance. This course aims to help students understand how these earlier conceptions speak to their own lives and how these earlier ideas connect to the world today. We will reflect on how to achieve religious toleranceand social co-existence. In order to do this, this course will provide an interactive environment where students directly engage in group discussions and multidisciplinary projects. We will develop an open conversation to enrich each participant in their intellectual, existential and social perspectives.
Syllabus - Ancient Philosophy (Social Foundation 1)
Course Description Envisioning Human Existence
Since the very beginning of human civilization, humans have engaged in the quest for meaning and envisioned different paths to deal with the existential search. In this course we will explore how ancient societies developed their approaches, and how the same proposals are still present in contemporary society: from the search for immortality to the spiritual quest; from social and political justice to religious devotion. The course will explore a variety of related topics such as: the human search for meaning, the question of origin, the relationship between life and death, the human and the divine, mythology and society, the connection between social norms and individual ethics. In the first part of the course, we will read the earliest texts ever written from ancient Sumerian, Babylonian, and Egyptian original sources. We will then focus on Indian, Chinese and Persian classic literature. In the second part of the course, we will explore Western foundational texts: from Jewish religious books, to philosophies and politics of ancient Greece and Rome. In the final part of the course, we will delve into early Christianity, its origins and its different interpretations. As we read these major pillars of world heritage, we will try to understand how different traditions of thought and beliefs relate in their approaches to envisioning human existence. In order to do this, this course will provide an interactive environment where students directly engage in such an ambitious task by developing their own “Social Foundations” (a list of foundational maxims), in three workshops. This course takes a global perspective and uses an interdisciplinary approach; the ancient societies from which the texts emerged are as much objects of study as the ancient texts themselves. Students are expected to learn the tools of critical thinking, cultivate analytical skills and learn comparative textual analysis. This course aims to help students understand how these earlier conceptions speak to their own lives and how these earlier ideas connect to the world today. We will develop an open conversation to enrich each participant in their intellectual, existential and social perspectives. After all, meaning inhabits the search...