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Critiques of Enlightenment in Post-Kantian German Philosophy (PH9F6-20/30)

This module aims to provide an in-depth examination of, and critical engagement with, critiques of enlightenment found in the German Post-Kantian philosophical tradition. It will chart the development of a distinctive, increasingly critical view of enlightenment from Kant's essay What is Enlightenment? to Horkheimer's and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. Other texts may include works by such philosophers as Fichte, Herder, Hegel and Nietzsche that can be interpreted as representing either enlightenment or counter-enlightenment standpoints.

Key issues and questions to be discussed will include: What is common to the various conceptions of enlightenment found in the German Post-Kantian philosophical tradition? What distinguishes them from each other? What is the relation of these conceptions of enlightenment to the historical Enlightenment? How do these conceptions of enlightenment inform the views of history and politics developed by the philosophers in question? To what extent do enlightenment values (or a rejection of them) find expression in the methods adopted by these philosophers?

The module is special in that it addresses such wide-ranging issues and questions at the same time as it retains focus by remaining within the bounds of a particular philosophical tradition and by focusing on a particular concept. It provides not only a way of engaging with this philosophical tradition for anyone interested in it, but also a conceptual and argumentative basis for discussing more general issues that are relevant today.

Module Director

David James

Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring term of the 2016/17 academic year, and is worth 20 or 30 CATS depending on your programme of study.