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Undergraduate Modules

This is a concise description of the under-graduate philosophy curriculum that will be phased in over the course of 2018 and 2019. While course titles will remain constant, the specific course content as described below may vary from year to year depending on our teaching capacity and the research interests being pursued by various staff members. More detailed decriptions for 2018 in the form of Course Guides will be hyperlinked from these short course descriptions towards the end of 2017.


Phil 110 and 120

All philosophical traditions recognize the classification of the main philosophical concerns into a) metaphysics, 2) epistemology, 3) logic and 4) moral philosophy - though ‘different traditions at different times have emphasized some and neglected others’ (P.J. King, One Hundred Philosophers, 2004 7). Phil 110 and 120 introduce students to the basics philosophical concerns of ‘what it means to know’? (Phil 110) and ‘what it means to be? (Phil 120).


Phil 110: Metaphysics and Epistemology.

‘What does it mean to know?’ and Who knows? This course covers a wide range of literature on metaphysics and epistemology by western and African scholars. Among other themes students are introduced to the conditions for the possibility of epistemicide as the violence that occurs when the legitimacy of one way of knowing is elevated above others.


Phil 120: Ontology and Ethics.

‘What does it mean to be?’ An introduction to the way in which our conception of what it means to be gives rise to different notions of the ethical (what I ought to do). An African understanding of being as belonging and its concomitant ethics of obligation is compared to a broadly western understanding of ontology in which being precedes belonging and which generates very different conceptions of the ethical.


Phil 210: Contesting Modernities.

The first module of this course traces the historical unfolding of the notion of a foundational discipline or First Philosophy from the claim that it is epistemology (Aristotle through Kant and Hegel), to ontology (Heidegger), to the ethical (Levinas) to the claim that it is the political (Grosfoguel, Mignolo). The second module traces the historical process through which the modern subject features in a struggle for recognition in the work of Hegel, Du Bois, Fanon and others, and the troubled process of attaining ‘self-consciousness’ conceptionalised variously through ‘double consciousness’ (Du Bois, Mills).


Phil 220: Philosophy in Context

In this course students will philosophically engage issues of contemporary relevance in (South) Africa, the global South and beyond and, depending on who teaches the course, will include issues from any of the sub-disciplines of philosophy such as moral philosophy and philosophy of science. The focus in 2018 will be on issues in political philosophy and may draw on discourses on inequality, critical race theory, decoloniality, black existentialism (the work of Mabogo More), and land restitution framed in terms of just war theory (the work of Mogobe Ramose).


Phil 310: Self and Subjectivity

This course introduces students to a trend in philosophical anthropology that traces the development of the conceptions of ‘self’ and ‘subjectivity’ in European philosophical thought from Descartes to the present. The course concludes with a critical discussion of contemporary developments that have significant implications for subjectivity such as neo-liberal governmentality, securitization and the emergence of the biometric state.


Phil 320: Philosophy in Context

This course continues the philosophical engagement with issues of contemporary concern in (South) Africa, the gobal South and beyond. The first module investigates the logic of the (deferred) ‘founding’ with reference to the word of Girard, Derrida, Arendt and Mamdani while the second module continues the exploration of Arendt’s thought on collective responsibility beyond collective action, and conceptualisations of collective self-constitution, including Butler’s performative theory of assembly. Main points of reference are the Rwanda genocide of 1994 and the #MustFall student movement of 2015/16.




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Last edited by Keolebogile MbebeEdit