9614 - Idealism and the Margins of Philosophy: (Inter)Disciplinarity in Kant, Hegel, Schelling - Tilottama Rajan
This course will take up German Idealism’s attempt to elevate philosophy to a metadiscipline that provides the organizing principle for all other “philosophical sciences” (as Hegel calls them). It will explore the way in which this imperialism of philosophy ends by exposing it to what Derrida calls “the margins of philosophy,” reconfiguring the very identity of philosophy and its writing, and thus creating a place for the emergence of theory. While there is no time in the course to do case studies of the way Kant, Hegel and Schelling have been appropriated by contemporary theorists such as Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Zizek, Habermas, Adorno, Nancy etc., these later thinkers will orient the way Idealism is approached in terms of its interdisciplinarity, and not as “pure” philosophy. An organizing premise of the course is Derrida’s notion of “autoimmunity,” wherein systems have a tendency to compromise themselves by destroying their “own immunitary protections.” We begin with Kant’s view of the relation between faculties and disciplines, and his attempts to delimit the place of philosophy. Though Kant may want to establish the grounds of reason and the boundaries between faculties, the problems of the empirical vs. the transcendental that Foucault sees as surfacing in his work place Kant at the origins of “Theory.” We will similarly study Hegel in terms of an interdisciplinarity that constantly exposes the philosophical cogito to its unthought. We will thus look at how Hegel’s philosophical project is disrupted by his work in the life sciences and aesthetics; how this work (for instance on bodies and organisms) unsettles his theories of civil society and the state; how the history of art is the history of the subject’s failing to become a classically bounded ego; and how the increasingly powerful discipline of “history” impacts philosophy. Finally we will take up these and similar issues in the work of Schelling, focusing on the way his early transcendental idealism is compromised by his work on chemistry and medicine, on his radical theorization of “freedom,” and on the consequences of this work for his theory of history.
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