Philosophy and Its Objects from Kant to Heidegger

In this reading course we will work together to arrive at a basic understanding of the chief philosophical accounts of objects in the modern period. The choice of subject matter, from Kant to Hegel to Nietzsche to Heidegger, reflects the actors’ own perception of the predecessors whose arguments they felt needed to be engaged. Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason came to the question of the object through the effort to explain how knowledge of the external world is possible. Hegel’s Lectures on Aesethetics is a world history articulated through an assessment of both the individual and the object. Nietzsche’s critique of both reason and unique world histories is filtered through his rewriting of history and philology in the 1870s. Finally, Heidegger can be seen as responding to Kant and to Nietzsche at the same time: he uses a thoroughly object-imbued ontology as an alternative to the metaphysical dualism enshrined by Kant as well as to underline the incompleteness of Nietzsche’s re-assessment of the possibilities of knowledge. Heidegger’s later essays on art, things, and technology remain the most significant twentieth-century attempts to speak about objects as philosophy. 3 credits.