Shaun Gallagher @ University of Memphis


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Fall 2015

PhD Seminar: Merleau-Ponty

The seminar will cover the major early works of Merleau-Ponty, The Structure of Behavior and Phenomenology of Perception. We'll consider Merleau-Ponty's place in the history of phenomenology and existentialism. We'll also read some of his later works, including selections from The Visible and the Invisible and selected essays. Our main focus will be on reading the texts; we'll also look at Merleau-Ponty's influence on embodied cognition approaches in recent philosophy and psychology and implications of his work for feminism, psychoanalysis, and aesthetics. (Co-taught with Dylan Trigg).

Graduate lecture course: Phenomenology

The seminar will focus on topics such as consciousness, embodiment, perception, meaning, the experience of time and intersubjectivity. In this course we look at the historical origins of phenomenology and at the latest developments in a variety of applications. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their own research topics, which may include topics related to applications outside of strictly philosophical topics.

 

 

Fall 2014

PhD Seminar: Action and interaction

We'll look at recent work on action theory, especially concepts of agency, intention, and joint action. Deb Tollefsen with join us for some meetings and we'll discuss her work on joint attention and collective intentionality. These topics lead to questions about social interaction and social cognition. We'll look at various theories of social cognition, including ToM and interaction theory. The final part of the seminar will focus on the implications of all this for social and political topics, especially the concept of recognition in critical theory (Honneth), and concepts of friendship and justice.

Undergraduate course: Critical theory

Critical theory is a contemporary philosophical approach to political, ethical, aesthetic, and epistemological issues. This course focuses on political issues concerning the nature of democracy, justice, political communication and practice. Critical theory has its roots in the Enlightenment period and in the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, and Marx. In the 20th-century it is advanced in the writings of the Frankfurt School of Social Criticism, and it becomes the philosophical source for contemporary movements like critical legal studies and critical theory of education. We'll look closely at the Frankfurt School thinkers, including Habermas and Honneth.

 

 

Spring 2014

PhD Seminar: Self and self-consciousness

The seminar started with a brief historical look at the notions of self (soul, subject, person, ego) as they develop in the philosophical tradition, including the 20th-c phenomenological tradition. The primary focus of the course will be on contemporary issues surrounding concepts of self and self-consciousness. Contemporary discussions involve questions about whether there is such a thing as self, and if so, when it begins (ontogenetically), whether it is primimarily a product of brain processes, psychological processes, narrative practices or is more holistically embodied. In these regards, challenges to the existence and status of the self have been posed from a variety of perspectives, including Buddhism, neuroscience, social constructionism, feminism and poststructuralism. We'll also consider questions about what happens when self and self-consciousness break down in pathologies, and whether we should think of the self as having a moral status.

Graduate lecture course: Philosophy of Mind

The course will cover major issues and positions in recent philosophy of mind after reviewing some of the basic concepts and discussions. Topics include behaviorism; reductive, non-reductive, and eliminative versions of materialism; functionalism; phenomenal consciousness; computational models; mental causation; action, free will, personal identity, and more recent embodied, enactive and extended models of the mind.

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Fall 2012

PhD Seminar: Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics has a long history. We'll start with a nod to Plato's Ion, but then jump to the German tradition of Enlightenment and Romantic theories of interpretation ini Chladenius,Schleiermacher, Dilthey, and a few others. The central focus of the seminar will be on Gadamer's Truth and Method. We'll then follow this out into the various debates that Gadamer has with figures such as Betti (philosophy of law) Habermas (critical theory), and Derrida (poststructuralism).

Undergraduate Course: Critical theory

Critical theory is a contemporary philosophical approach to political, ethical, aesthetic, and epistemological issues. This course focuses on political issues concerning the nature of democracy, justice, political communication and practice. Critical theory has its roots in the Enlightenment period and in the philosophies of Kant, Hegel, and Marx. In the 20th-century it is advanced in the writings of the Frankfurt School of Social Criticism, and it becomes the philosophical source for contemporary movements like critical legal studies and critical theory of education. The German philosopher/sociologist Jürgen Habermas is the leading representative of critical theory today. By focusing our study on Habermas and the various debates in which he participates, we will be able to gain a good deal of insight into the nature of critical theory, its limitations and its promise. His debates include a famous interchange with Gadamer concerning interpretation and communication theory, a debate with several German historians over the proper regard for the past, an engagement with Derrida (and post-structuralism) concerning the nature of language and truth, and disputations with Foucault concerning power, with Lyotard (and postmodernism) about universality, and with Rawls on justice. Habermas also interfaces with feminist thinkers concerning the nature of social critique.

Spring 2012

Graduate lecture course: Philosophy of Mind

The course will cover major issues and positions in recent philosophy of mind after reviewing some of the basic concepts and discussions. Topics include behaviorism; reductive, non-reductive, and eliminative versions of materialism; functionalism; phenomenal consciousness; computational models; mental causation; action, free will, personal identity, and more recent embodied, enactive and extended models of the mind. 

Fall 2011

PhD Seminar: Intersubjectivity

Intersubjectivity is a philosophical term (and is identified as such in various dictionaries). It is most closely associated with phenomenology and Continental philosophy, but it also finds its way into psychology and psychoanalysis and sometimes takes on technical meanings in those fields. Most generally, however, the concept of intersubjectivity concerns our relations with others and it is related to the problem of other minds (in analytic philosophy of mind), and to the concept of social cognition or theory of mind (in psychology and cognitive sciences).

Even within Continental philosophy the concept of intersubjectivity can be found going in various directions. In Husserl's phenomenology it is a central concept. There are also ongoing discussions of concepts like empathy and sympathy in this tradition - and these refer us back to some earlier theorists like Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. We can find different approaches to intersubjectivity within the phenomenological tradition in Husserl, Scheler, and Heidegger, and (with frequent reference to Hegel) in hermeneutics, critical theory, the French existentialists, in Levinas and poststructuralist thinkers. We could trace out the implications of such analyses for our everyday understanding of others, for interpretation and the co-constitution of meaning, for ethics, politics, gender issues, and for specific topics such as violence and terrorism, and so forth. Studying the history of Continental thought on such problems could easily be a course (or two or three) on its own. In this seminar, however, we take only a quick glance at this history - enough of a glance to allow it to inform our considerations of what Husserl would call die Sache selbst - the actual experience of intersubjectivity and the issues/problems that surround this concept.

Our focus will be on the contemporary debates about how we understand others. These debates take us beyond phenomenology and Continental philosophy, but we need to go beyond these philosophical areas to see what role phenomenology, for example, may be able to play in addressing these debates, and what such debates might mean for things like hermeneutics and critical theory. This will require some interdisciplinary work - for example, we need to look not only at current discussions in philosophy of mind, but also at what developmental psychology and neuroscience can tell us about intersubjectivity. So what we will be doing is not pure phenomenology, or pure Continental philosophy, or pure philosophy, or pure anything. At the same time it's not something that we could do without reference to phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, critical theory, and so forth.

 


 

Courses @ UCF

Courses in Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences

2008-11