After taking the course, students will be able to
- Distinguish between different approaches to epistemology,
- Summarize and explain a number of prominent positions in the Western canon, and
- Apply different frameworks to analyse and evaluate current challenges.
In this course, you will examine different doctrines of knowledge and truth, by means of a thorough and critical reading of some of their proponents. It implies theories like idealism (Plato, Hegel), rationalism (Descartes, Spinoza), empiricism (Locke, Hume), scepticism (Sextus Empiricus, Montaigne), (neo)positivism (Comte, Carnap), pragmatism (James, Dewey), phenomenology (Husserl, Merleau-Ponty), hermeneutics (Heidegger, Ricoeur). But these impressive labels do not really matter; important are the basic ideas that they convey and the discussions they evoke – discussions you are invited to participate in.|
Basic questions are: “What are the preconditions for human knowledge?” “Is human knowledge finite, and, if so, what are its limitations, and does it make sense to talk about things beyond these limitations?” “What kinds of truth are there (in math, in science, in the humanities, in poetry, in religion)?” “What exactly is a (scientific) truth claim?” “What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?”
This course will take place in the first quartile of the second year. Every class on Wednesday is intended as a seminar for information, reading suggestions and study guidelines, and for discussion with the teacher. Classes on Monday (except the first one) are preparatory group sessions. An extensive study guide will be available at the beginning of the course.