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[Fall 2022] The Faults of Modern Philosophy

This is not a seminar about modernity, but about modern philosophy—and, specifically, about the fundamental flaws (or faults) which characterize modern philosophy’s thinking.  These flaws, once recognized, show their effects everywhere today: in the endless fragmentation of world, mind, self; in the intransigence of political discourse, the widening cultural divides, the polarization of extremes, and the frail, shrill assertions of expertise, exactitude, and a scientific consensus that appears to hold naught together in truth but the adherents of a narrow ideology.

We will not, in the course of these eight weeks, undertake deconstruction of this fragile and threatening edifice.  Rather, our task is to discover and analyze the underlying faults.  We will accomplish this analysis through a collective effort—with lectures given and discussions led by three faculty (Kemple, Wagner, and Boyer)—that unveils the fundamental mistakes of modern philosophy’s key thinkers.  Though these thinkers are diverse from one another, commonly they are “modern” in holding certain presuppositions about the nature of knowledge and the human person resulting in a discontinuous set of fundamental beliefs concerning the universe and our experience of it.

It would be easy simply to point to the precarity and chaos permeating the world built on such foundations, wave it away, and say that we must begin again.  But such hand-waving not only fails to be efficacious, it is, moreover, delusional.  We are the children of modernity, like it or not, and their errors are our inheritance, abusive though that may be.  If we fail to understand the foundations of the moderns’ thoughts, we will not recognize their influence in ourselves.

Discussion Sessions
2:00pm ET

(World times)
Study Topics &
Readings

September
24
Week 1: The Modern Context
Lecture: From the Break with Scholasticism to the Incoherence of Today
Readings:
» Selections from preparatory bibliography.
October
1
Week 2: The False Ground of Modern Philosophy
Lecture: The πρῶτον ψεῦδος [first falsehood] of Modern Philosophy: Descartes’ Method
Reading:
» Descartes, Meditations (I-II).
October
8
Week 3: Common Idealism
Lecture: The Lonely Way of Ideas
Reading:
» Descartes, Discourse on Method (selections).
» Descartes, Meditations (III).
» Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (selections).
October
15
Week 4: A Broken “Empiricism”
Lecture: David Hume’s “Empirical” Method: The Tale of Naïve Cartesian
Reading:
» Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (selections).
» Aristotle, Physics (selections).
October
22

BREAK
October
29
Week 5: Immanuel Kant and the Unknowable
Lecture: Kant’s A Priori Prison
Reading:
» Kant, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (selections).
» Gilson, Unity of Philosophical Experience (selections).
November
5
Week 6: Pointing Games
Lecture: Wittgenstein’s Language
Reading:
» Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (selections).
November
12
Week 7: Avoiding Reality
Lecture: Choose Your Own Ontology
Readings:
» Quine, “On What There Is”.
» Geach, “Symposium: On What There Is”
November
19
Week 8: Jean-Paul Sartre and the Nadir of Modernity
Lecture: Antagonism of Person and Nature
Readings
» Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism.

This seminar is open to all participants, regardless of prior experience. View the syllabus here and learn more about Lyceum Institute seminars here.

Lyceum Institute seminar costs are structured on a principle of financial subsidiarity. There are three payment levels, priced according to likely levels of income. If you wish to take a seminar but cannot afford the suggested rate, it is acceptable to sign up at a less-expensive level. The idea is: pay what you can. Those who can pay more, should, so that those who cannot pay as much, need not. Lyceum Institute members receive a further discount (see here for details).

Registration is closed.

The singularity of relation and the threads of communication | by Paul Bains

This event is part of the activities of the 2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics: a Tribute to John Deely on the Fifth Anniversary of His Passing, cooperatively organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies, the International Center for Semiotics and Intercultural Dialogue, Moscow State Academic University for the Humanities and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.

Paul Bains is an independent researcher. He is a published author and translator (French to English) who has translated works by Felix Guattari (Chaosmosis: An Ethico-Aesthetic Paradigm) and Isabelle Stengers (Power and Invention: Situating Science). His Ph.D. thesis was published as ‘The primacy of semiosis: an ontology of relations’ (University of Toronto Press, 2006).

2022 International Open Seminar on Semiotics (IO2S) | Website

This collaborative international open scientific initiative and celebration is jointly organized by the Institute for Philosophical Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Coimbra, the Lyceum Institute, the Deely Project, Saint Vincent College, the Iranian Society for Phenomenology at the Iranian Political Science Association, the International Association for Semiotics of Space and Time, the Institute for Scientific Information on Social Sciences of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Semiotic Society of America, the American Maritain Association, the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the International Society for Biosemiotic Studies and the Mansarda Acesa with the support of the FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, I.P., of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Government of Portugal under the UID/FIL/00010/2020 project.