Reason and its Rivals from Kant to Freud
University of Nottingham (2019)
This module examines a selection of theoretical approaches to modernity, beginning with Kant’s assertion of individual reason as the founding stone of enlightened social organisation. We will move on to examine how Marx and Engels, Nietzsche and Freud all interrogated Kant’s position in their work. Our discussions will touch on issues such as the nature of the individual subject, the role of culture, as well as competing ideas of the status of reality as based in social conditions or the product of the will, drives, or ideology.
Bowie, Andrew (2010) German Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP)
More Introductory Reading
Bowie, Andrew (2003) Introduction to German Philosophy: from Kant to Habermas (Cambridge: Polity Press), especially chapters on Kant, Marx and Nietzsche
Carvounas, David (2002) Diverging Time: the politics of modernity in Kant, Hegel and Marx (Lexington)
Ricœur, Paul (2008) Freud and Philosophy: an essay on interpretation (Yale UP), especially pp.32-36
Stevenson, Leslie & David L. Haberman (2004) Ten Theories of Human Nature (USA: Oxford UP)
Warburton, Nigel (2012) Philosophy: the basics (Routledge)
Lecture 1: Kant and Modernity: Essential background
Lecture 1 Presentation
The lecture will discuss why Kant’s ideas mark the end of a sense that there is an objectively ‘given’ reality, what Hilary Putnam calls the ready-made world, in his conception of the autonomy and spontaneity of subject as a being that can know and act morally. It will discuss the importance of reason to his ideas about man and Enlightenment.
Required Reading for Lecture 1
Bowie, Andrew (2003) Introduction to German Philosophy: from Kant to Habermas (Cambridge: Polity Press), Chapter 1, The Kantian Revolution
Bowie, Andrew (2010) German Philosophy: a very short introduction (Oxford: OUP), Chapter 1, ‘Kant and Modernity’
Commentary Class 1
Kant, ‘Beantwortung auf die Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’
Kant Seminar 1: Reason and its ‘negative’ definition
- How is the free exercise of reason central to Kant’s concept of Enlightenment?
- What in his view gets in the way of this free exercise of reason?
- In what sense is Kant’s definition of enlightenment ‘negative’ (Foucault)?
Lecture 2: German Idealism
Lecture 1 Presentation
Required Reading for Lecture 2
Bowie, Andrew (2003) Introduction to German Philosophy: from Kant to Habermas (Cambridge: Polity Press), Chapter 3, ‘German Idealism: from Fichte to the Early Schelling’
Bowie, Andrew (2003) Introduction to German Philosophy: from Kant to Habermas (Cambridge: Polity Press), Chapter 4, ‘German Idealism: Hegel’
Bowie, Andrew (2010) German Philosophy: a very short introduction (Oxford: OUP), Chapter 3, ‘German Idealism’
Kant Seminar 2: Monarchs and Guardians, public and private use of reason
- What roles are allocated to the individual/the authorities/guardians/monarch in Kant’s ideal society?
- What does Kant mean by the private and public uses of reason?
- Why might he make such a distinction? Is Kant’s attitude elitist?
Kant: Recommended Reading
Ameriks, Karl (2000) Kant and the Fate of Autonomy: problems in the appropriation of the critical philosophy (Cambridge: CUP), especially discussion on the Enlightenment, pp.96-109
Deligiorgi, Katerina (2005) Kant and the Culture of Enlightenment (Albany: SUNY Press), Chapter 2
Foucault, Michel (1984) ‘What is Enlightenment?’ in Paul Rainbow (ed) The Foucault Reader (London: Penguin), pp.32-50
Hutchings, Kimberly (1996) Kant, Critique and Politics (Routledge), especially pp.51-57 in Chapter 3
Lassman, Peter (2000) ‘Enlightenment, Cultural Crisis and Politics: the role of intellectuals from Kant to Habermas,’ The European Legacy, Vol.5, No.6, pp.815-828, especially pp.821-822
Nisbet, H.B. (1982) ‘Was ist Aufklärung? The Concept of Enlightenment in 18th Century Germany,’ Journal of European Studies, Vol.12, p.77-95
Reiss, Hans (1991) Kant: Political Writings (Cambridge: CUP), Introduction and Kant’s Essay ‘An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?’ (Hard copy in the study)
Schmidt, James (1989) ‘The Question of Enlightenment: Kant, Mendelssohn and the Mittwochsgesellschaft,’ Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.50, No.2 (Apr-Jun), pp.269-291
Schmidt, James (1992) ‘What Enlightenment Was: how Moses Mendelssohn and Immanuel Kant answered the Berlinische Monatsschrift,’ Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol.30, No.1 (Jan), pp.77-101, especially pp.88-101
Scruton, Roger (2001) Kant: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP)
Other Recommended Reading
Beiser, Frederick (1993) The Fate of Reason: German philosophy from Kant to Fichte (Harvard UP), especially Introduction, pp.1-15
Höffe, Otfried (1994) Immanuel Kant (State University of New York Press)
Pütz, Peter (1991) Die Deutsche Aufklärung
Scruton, Roger (1982) Kant (Oxford: OUP), especially Introduction (Book ordered)
Schmidt, James (1996) What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-century answers and twentieth-century questions (University of California Press)
Further Reading (not on reading list)
Baldwin, Thomas (2011) ‘On the Meaning of Reason in Kant,’ Ch.1 in .E. Moore, Early Philosophical Writings (Cambridge:CUP)
Bowie, Andrew (2010) German Philosophy: a very short introduction (Oxford: OUP)
O’Hear, Anthony (1999) German Philosophy Since Kant (Cambridge: CUP)
O’Neill, Onora (2015) ‘Kant: Rationality as practical reason,’ Chapter 2 in Constructing Authorities (Cambridge:CUP)
Pinkard, Terry (2002) German Philosophy, 1760-1860 (Cambridge: CUP), Part I, Kant and the Revolution in Philosophy
Young, J. Michael (1992) ‘Introduction to the Doctrine of Reason According to the Thoughts of Professor Kant,’ Chapter in Lectures on Logic (Cambridge: CUP)
2. Marx and Engels
Lecture 3: Marx & Engels and the Departure from Philosophy
Lecture 3 Presentation
The lecture discusses the massive economic and political changes that happen during the nineteenth century in Germany, and the subsequent shift in focus from questions of consciousness and autonomy to questions of material, economic context, of which Marx and Engels are the primary theorists.
Required Reading for Lecture 3
Marx (1945) Thesen über Feuerbach (German)
Marx (1945) Feuerbach (English)
Commentary Class 2
Marx & Engels, excerpts from ‘Die Deutsche Ideologie’
Commentary: Die deutsche Ideologie
Die deutsche Ideologie (German text)
Marx Seminar 1: Verdict on Philosophy and the ‘Materialist’ Alternative
- What do Marx/Engels say about German philosophy in Die deutsche Ideologie?
- What is their ‘materialist’ alternative?
- What is their view of human nature?
Marx Seminar 2: Division of Labour and the General Interest
- What is meant by the division of labour (‘Teilung der Arbeit’), and what implications does it have?
- What role does the ‘general interest’ play in the essay, and why is ‘world history’ important for Marx and Engels?
Marx & Engels: Recommended Reading
Avineri, Shlomo (1968) The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (Cambridge: CUP)
Brudney, Daniel (1999) Marx’s Attempt to Leave Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP), especially Chapters 7,8 & 9
Critchley, Peter (2000) ‘Marx and Rational Freedom,’ Thesis (Manchester Metropolitan University
Forbes, Ian (1991) Marx and Nietzsche: the individual in history,’ Chapter 6 in Nietzsche and Modern German Thought (London: Routledge)
Hook, Sidney (1962) From Hegel to Marx: studies in the intellectual development of Karl Marx (Columbia UP), especially Chapter 8, ‘Karl Marx and Feuerbach’
Singer, Peter (1980) Marx: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: OUP), in particular chapters 6 and 7
Wood, Allen (2004) Karl Marx (Routledge)
Other Recommended Reading
Agar, Jolyon (2006) Rethinking Marxism: from Kant and Hegel to Marx and Engels (Routledge)
Kamenka, Eugene (1971) Marx: on the philosophical ideas in Marx (not listed anywhere online)
Kolakowski, Leszek & P.S. Falla (1978) Main Currents of Marxism (Oxford: OUP), especially Chapter 8 in Volume 1
Korsch, Karl (1994) Marxism and Philosophy (Verso)
McLellan, David (1975) Marx (London: Fontana), especially Chapter 3 (long)
Megill, Allan (2002) Karl Marx: the burden of reason (Why Marx Rejected Politics and the Market) (Rowan & Littlefield)
Morrison, Ken (2006) Marx, Durkheim, Weber: Formations of modern social thought (Sage Publications)
Plamenatz, John Petrov (1975) Karl Marx’s Philosophy of Man (Oxford: OUP)
Rockmore, Tom (2002) Marx After Marxism: the philosophy of Karl Marx (Wiley-Blackwell)
Schmitt, Richard (1987) Introduction to Marx and Engels: a critical reconstruction (Westview Press)
Singer, Peter (1980) Marx (Oxford: OUP), especially Chapters 6 & 7 (this appears to be an older version of Marx: A Very Short Introduction, see above
Tangcharoen, Choltis (1999) ‘The Practice of Reason: an examination of Marx’s philosophy of politics,’ Thesis
Further reading (not on reading list)
Kamenka, Eugene (1969)
3. Friedrich Nietzsche
Lecture 4: Nietzsche’s Critiques of Metaphysics and Morality
Lecture 4 Presentation
The lecture will discuss Nietzsche’s critique of philosophy which proceeds by concepts, abstraction and speculation, which he thinks obscures and covers up the real nature of the world, that is more likely comprises of the drives, of our will, or of elements that are not so ordered and that we are not in control of. In particular he rejects allegedly eternal values especially moral ones, and sees the will as the only plausible and enduring source of value.
Required Reading for Lecture 4
Nietzsche (1873) ‘Über Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne’ (German)
Nietzsche (1873) ‘On Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense’ (English)
Nietzsche Seminar 1: Models of Truth, Metaphor and Conceptuality
- What models of truth does Nietzsche refer to in his essay?
- What is the status of metaphors and concepts in his ideas?
- How/for what reasons is Nietzsche critical of the idea of truth?
Commentary Class 3
Nietzsche, ‘Über Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne’
Nietzsche Seminar 2: Human Creativity, Rational and Liberated Man
- What role does human creativity play in Nietzsche’s essay?
- What does it mean that we have a ‘Trieb zur Metapherbildung?
- With which two concepts of man does his essay conclude?
TED talk: Jill Bolte Taylor, ‘My Stroke of Insight’
Nietzsche: Recommended Reading
Clark, Maudemarie (1990) Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy (Cambridge: CUP)
Garrard, Graeme (2006) Counter-Enlightenments: from the eighteenth century to the present (Routledge)
Grimm, Ruediger Hermann (1977) Nietzsche’s Theory of Knowledge (De Gruyter), especially Chapter 2 for a discussion of Nietzsche’s conception of truth
Hill, R. Kevin (2003) Nietzsche’s Critiques: the Kantian Foundations of his thought (Oxford: Clarendon Press), especially Chapters 5 & 6
Hinman, Lawrence M. (1982) ‘Nietzsche, Metaphor and Truth,’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Society, Vol.43, No.2 (Dec), pp.179-199
Schacht, Richard (1083) Nietzsche (Routledge), Chapter 2 and first half of Chapter 8
Schrift, Alan (1985) ‘Language, Metaphor, Rhetoric: Nietzsche’s Deconstruction of Epistemology,’ Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol.23, No.3 (July), pp.371-395
Stack, George (1981) ‘Nietzsche and the Correspondence Theory of Truth,’ Diálogos, No.38, pp.93-117
Other Recommended Reading
Ansell-Pearson, Keith (2005) How to Read Nietzsche (Granta)
Green, Michael Steven (2002) Nietzsche and the Transcendental Tradition (University of Illinois Press), especially Chapter 1, ‘The Problem of Nietzsche’s “Error Theory”‘
Kaufmann, Walter Arnold (1974) Nietzsche: Philosopher, psychologist, antichrist (Princeton UP), especially the discussion of morality in Ch.7
O’Flaherty, James (1988) The Quarrel of Reason with Itself: Essays on Hamann, Michaelis, Lessing, Nietzsche (Camden House)
Small, Robin (2001) Nietzsche in Context (Routledge), see Chapter 9, ‘Sensualism and Knowledge’
Stern, J.P. (1978) Nietzsche (Fontana), see Ch.4 on the abstract and the concrete in thought and pp.132-140 on ‘Uber Wahrheit und Luge’
Tanner, Michael (1994) Nietzsche: a very short introduction (Oxford: OUP) (Book ordered)
Warnock, Mary (2009) ‘Nietzsche’s Conception of Truth,’ Chapter 2 in W. Pasley (ed) Nietzsche: Imagery and Thought: a collection of essays (Routledge)
Huddleston, Andrew (2018) ‘Why (and How) We Read Nietzsche,’ The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, Vol.49, No.2, pp.223-240
Sleinis, Edgar (2003) ‘Nietzsche’ Chapter 19 in Thomas Baldwin, The Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1870-1945 (Cambridge: CUP)
4. Sigmund Freud
Lecture 5: Freud’s Models of Self and Culture
Lecture 5 Presentation
The lecture will discuss Freud’s status as a scientist and thinker, the nature of his ideas on the ‘unconscious’ and the sense that we are not ‘transparent’ to ourselves, before discussing his ideas on the repressive role of culture.
Essential reading for Lecture 5
Freud (1930) Das Unbehagen in Der Kultur
Freud (1930) Civilisation and its Discontents
Freud (1912) Einige Bemerkungen über den Begriff des Unbewußten in der Psychoanalyse
Freud Seminar 1: Paradox of Culture, Costs and Benefits of Culture
- What is the central paradox of culture for Freud?
- What are the costs and benefits of social organisation?
Freud Seminar 2: Christianity and Communism, and Freud’s View of Human Nature
- What does Freud say about Christianity and communism?
- What view of man comes across in Freud’s discussion?
Freud: Recommend Reading
Assoun, Paul-Laurent (2002) Freud and Nietzsche (Continuum) (wordy)
Gardner, Sebastian (2003) ‘The Unconscious Mind,’ Chapter 8 in Thomas Baldwin, The Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1870-1945 (Cambridge: CUP)
Marcuse, Herbert (1987) Eros and Civilisation: a philosophical inquiry into Freud (Routledge)
Morton, Adam (1982) ‘Freudian Commonsense,’ Chapter 4 in Wollheim & Morton, Philosophical Essays on Freud (Cambridge: CUP)
Paul, Robert A. (1991) ‘Freud’s Anthropology: a reading of the “cultural books”,’ Chapter 11 in Jerome Neu (ed), The Cambridge Companion to Freud (Cambridge: CUP)
Wollheim, Richard & James Hopkins (1982) Philosophical Essays on Freud (Cambridge: CUP), Introduction and Chapter 4
Other Recommended Reading
Dufresne, Todd (2003) Killing Freud: twentieth-century culture and the end of psychoanalysis (Continuum)
Ellenberger, Henri (1994) The Discovery of the Unconscious: the history and evolution of dynamic psychiatry (Fontana)
Gasser, Reinhard (1997) Nietzsche und Freud (Berlin: de Gruyter)
Gay, Peter (1990) Reading Freud: explorations and entertainments (Yale UP), especially Chapter 3, ‘Freud and Freedom’
Lehrer, Ronald (1995) Nietzsche’s Presence in Freud’s Life and Thought: on the origins of a psychology of dynamic unconscious mental functioning (State University of New York Press), Ch.14 on the repressive function of consciousness
Levy, Donald (1996) Freud Among the Philosophers: the psychoanalytic unconscious and its philosophical critics (Yale University Press), Introduction
Quinodoz, Jean-Michel (2005) Reading Freud: a chronological exploration of Freud’s writings (Routledge), see pp.235-240 for key aspects of Das Unbehagen in der Culture
Redding, Paul (1999) ‘Freud’s Theory of Consciousness,’ Chapter 16 in Michael Levine (ed), Analytic Freud (Routledge)
Ricœur, Paul (1970) Freud and Philosophy: an essay on interpretation, translated by Denis Savage (Yale University Press)
Rieff, Philip (1959) Freud: the mind of the moralist (University of Chicago Press), especially Ch.3 on notions of selfhood and reason
Wollheim, Richard (1991) Freud (Fontana), Chapters 2,6 & 8
Further Reading (not on reading list but useful for essays)
Kaye, Howard (1991) ‘A False Convergence: Freud and the Hobbesian Problem of Order,’ Sociological Theory, Vol.9, No.1, pp.87-105
Abbot, Philip (1981) ‘The Three Families of Thomas Hobbes,’ The Review of Politics, Vol.43, No.2, pp.242-258
Sharvit, Gilad (2016) ‘Conscious Inhibitions: Freud, anti-Semitism and Hobbesian imagination,’ Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol.15, No.3, pp.349-365
Garrard, Graeme (1996) ‘Joseph de Maistre’s Civilisation and Its Discontents,’ Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.57, No.3, pp.429-446
Kratochwil, Friedrich (1989) Rules, Norms and Decisions, Chapter 4, ‘The Force of Prescriptions: Hume, Hobbes, Durkheim and Freud on Compliance with Norms’
Wrong, Dennis (1961) ‘The Oversocialized Conception of Man in Modern Sociology,’ American Sociological Review, Vol.26, No.2, pp.183-193
Irwin, W.R. (1984) ‘Mark Twain and Sigmund Freud on the Discontents of Civilisation,’ The Iowa Review, Vol.14, No.3, pp.30-47
Hoekstra, Kinch (2007) ‘Hobbes on the Natural Condition of Mankind,’ Chapter 4 in Patricia Springborg, The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes’s Leviathan (Cambridge: CUP)
Zepf, Siegfried (2017) ‘Civilisation and its Discontents – A Reappraisal,’ Asian Social Science, Vol.13, No.4, pp.93-103
Schorske, Carl E. (1980) ‘The Psycho-Archeology of Civilizations,’ Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol.92, pp.52-67
Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents, Christina Hendricks
Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents
Freud, Civilisation and its Discontents, Chris Laurence
Freud on Sexuality and Civilisation
Freud’s Theory of Human Nature, Rory Connolly
Formative Assignment: commentary exercise
Essay Questions (100%)
The module is assessed by 1,800-2,000-word coursework essay (100% of module mark), which will be preceded by one formative 750-word commentary piece. Your essay must be submitted by 3pm on Monday 20th May 2019. Coursework essay titles are listed below:
- ‘Kant defines Aufklärung in an almost entirely negative way, as an Ausgang, an “exit,” a “way out.”’ (Foucault) What does Foucault mean by describing Kant’s concept of Enlightenment in these terms, and what implications does it have – and did it have at the time – for Kant’s ideas?
- ‘But what is more difficult to understand – and indeed what Kant’s friend and critic Georg Hamman regarded as the “proton Pseudos [fundamental error]” of the entire essay – is how one could possibly be responsible for one’s own immaturity.’ (Schmidt) Discuss Kant’s essay ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’ in the light of this comment.
- ‘Das Bewußtsein ist also von vornherein schon ein gesellschaftliches Produkt und bleibt es, solange überhaupt Menschen existieren’ (Marx and Engels). What ways of thinking are Marx and Engels criticising with this view, and what are its implications for their own project?
- What is Marx and Engels’ verdict on philosophy in Die deutsche Ideologie? How does this relate to their wider concerns expressed in that book?
- What view(s) of the individual self does Nietzsche take in ‘Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinne’?
- Outline the main points of Nietzsche’s critique of traditional views of truth in ‘Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinne’, discussing the version of truth he himself suggests and its implications for morality.
- ‘On the whole Freud stands with Hobbes, as opposed to Rousseau; not that man is good and society corrupts him, but that man is anarchic and society restrains him.’ (Reiff) Assess this view of Freud’s attitude to human nature with reference to Das Unbehagen in der Kultur.
- Freud ‘present[s] us only with the cost of civilization, and conceal[s] what we gain from it.’ (Wollheim) Assess this comment, explaining Freud’s view of the function and costs of civilization.
- ‘Zu dieser Aufklärung aber wird nichts erfordert als Freiheit; und zwar die unschädlichste unter allem, was nur Freiheit heißen mag, nämlich die: von seiner Vernunft in allen Stücken öffentlichen Gebrauch zu machen’ (Kant). Discuss how AT LEAST TWO other thinkers might take issue with Kant’s assessment of reason’s enlightening force.
- ‘Both theorists [Freud and Marx] are, formally determinists, and both assign relatively minor degrees of conscious rational control and direction to the individual.’ (Loptson) Is this fair comment? Assess with reference to the writings of both Freud and Marx and Engels.
- In what ways, according to the thinkers you have studied on this module, has modern life constrained man’s creativity, and with what consequences? Answer with reference to AT LEAST TWO thinkers.