Philosophy 187

Spring 2014

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
187 Special Topics in the History of Philosophy: Heidegger on Mitsein (Being-with) and Alterity Kaiser Tu 9-12 234 Moses Hall

On ‘Mitsein’ and Alterity: Heidegger’s Critique of Intersubjectivity

This course will offer a systematic study of Heidegger’s important notion of ‘Mitsein’ (‘Being-with’). Mitsein is crucial to Heidegger’s conception of Dasein in its essential tension between the poles of authenticity and inauthenticity, as well as for Heidegger’s later thinking on art, technology and language (as the ‘house of being’). But it has also been at the heart of controversies amongst both foes and followers of Heidegger’s philosophy. Thinkers as diverse and significant as Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas, Herbert Marcuse, Hans Jonas, Jürgen Habermas, and Charles Taylor have all been profoundly influenced (positively or critically) by Heidegger’s ontological approach to grounding ethics. For some it epitomizes Heidegger’s failed attempt to capture the deeply social aspect of intersubjectivity, a failure that led to his dangerously inadequate grasp of the political dimension of human existence. To others it became a stepping stone to developing their own notions of ‘love of the world’ or ‘amor mundi’ (Arendt), ‘alterity ‘(Levinas), and ‘responsibility’ (Jonas).

We will study the relevant sections of Being and Time (in particular §§25-27 and 74) and trace Heidegger’s development of these ideas in his thinking (looking at excerpts from Basic Concepts of Metaphysics and other lectures, as well as such influential later essays as The Thing and The Question Concerning Technology). After that we will focus on important critical objections as well as interesting new perspectives on intersubjectivity and community by the above named philosophers and other, more contemporary thinkers.

Requirements: • Active participation in the seminar discussion • 2 short response papers on the assigned texts • a 12-15 page final paper

Previously taught: SP12, SP11, FL10, SU10D, FL09, SP08, SP07.