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        Zed Adams

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        Despina Dontas

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    • Courses in the Department of Philosophy combine deep intellectual analyses of important thinkers with a robust and comprehensive survey of their important thoughts. Through studying both, students learn underlying concepts and examine bigger intellectual implications.

      Please consult the New School Course Catalog for a full list of courses. Fall 2019 courses include:

      The Basic Problems of Phenomenology, GPHI 6074
      James Dodd, Professor of Philosophy

      This course provides an introduction to the project of classical phenomenology as it is discussed in the writings of Husserl and Heidegger. Topics covered include expression and meaning, consciousness and Dasein, time and temporality, perception and intentionality, and evidence and truth.

      Wittgenstein, GPHI 6121 
      Alice Crary, University Distinguished Professor

      This course is a broad introduction to the philosophy of Wittgenstein, with emphasis on his later writings. In addition to discussing major primary texts, we explore the reception of Wittgenstein's philosophy and its continuing importance today for research in different areas of philosophy, above all social philosophy.

      Dogmas of Empiricism, GPHI 6130
      Zed Adams, Associate Professor of Philosophy

      This seminar is a focused survey of the last half century of analytic philosophy. It is structured around the emergence of a distinctive genre of critique within analytic philosophy, one with recognizably Kantian and Hegelian origins. This genre is made up of a series of moments in which analytic philosophers have critiqued their contemporaries for their commitment to problematic tenets of traditional empiricism. The moments that make up this genre include Quine's criticisms of the analytic/synthetic distinction and reductionism, Geach's criticism of abstractionism, Chomsky’s criticism of empiricist accounts of language learning, Strawson and Evans' criticism of empiricist accounts of the objective purport of thought, Austin's criticism of sense data, Sellars's criticisms of foundationalism and what he calls the Myth of the Given, Davidson's criticism of scheme/content dualism, Putnam's criticism of individualism, Evans' criticism of the idea that causation suffices for reference, and Rorty's criticism of the very idea of epistemology. With these criticisms in view, we will be well positioned to consider the larger question that they raise: namely, whether they show that empiricism as such should be rejected (as Davidson, Rorty, and Brandom argue) or whether the rejection of these dogmas is precisely what shows us how to articulate a defensible form of empiricism (as Quine, Evans, and McDowell argue).

      Spinoza, GPHI 6138 
      Chiara Bottici, Associate Professor of Philosophy

      This seminar offers a close reading and commentary of Spinoza’s works. Shorter texts are analyzed alongside Spinoza’s main work, although our central concern is to disentangle the interwoven threads of argument in Spinoza’s greatest masterpiece: The Ethics. Spinoza's philosophical revolution is seen both in his new way of formulating old problems and in his subversive underlying program of a philosophy of immanence that naturalizes man, reason, ethics, and God and claims to respond more adequately than religion itself to religion's own highest concerns.

      Emotional Life of Politics, GPHI 6610

      Ross Poole, Part-Time Faculty

      According to Montesquieu, each of the three major forms of government has a sustaining principle, a "human passion that sets it in motion." For tyranny, the principle is fear; for monarchy, honor; for a republic, virtue. Montesquieu's analysis provides a springboard for discussing the emotions that play a role in contemporary political life. Of those identified by Montesquieu, fear is most obviously present (even, or especially, in so-called republics), while honor and virtue are notably absent or marginal. However, a number of other emotions are also in play, both in mainstream and oppositional politics. These include nationalism, xenophobiam and racism; anger and resentment; guilt and shame; and melancholia and nostalgia. The concern of the course is primarily political; it is also conceptual. It is aimed not merely at engaging critically with the role of emotion in political life but also at shedding light on what emotions — especially "public" emotions — are. Authors discussed include Montesquieu, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Freud, Walter Benjamin, and more recent thinkers such as Judith Butler, Svetlana Boym, and Enzo Traverso.

      Experience and History, GPHI 6625
      David Carr

      In history, we claim to have knowledge of the past, but is there an experience of history? Many philosophers, including Hegel, Dilthey, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty, have claimed that there is. In this seminar, we examine these thinkers' and others’ accounts of historical experience. We consider the relation between history and narrative (storytelling) and the connection between the temporality of experience and the temporality of history.

      Kant's Doctrine of Illusion, GPHI 6668
      Omri Boehm, Associate Professor of Philosophy

      In the very first sentences of the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant claims that human reason’s fate is tragic. It is “burdened,” he writes, by questions that it cannot “ignore" and yet which it “cannot answer.” His analysis of Reason’s tragedy — in fact, his argument in the Critique of Pure Reason as a whole — culminates in the argument that Reason necessarily entangles itself in “transcendental illusions.” These illusions produce our idea of the world, of the soul, and of God. In this seminar, we evaluate Kant’s claim through a close reading of the first Critique’s Dialectic. Special focus is placed on Kant’s critique of Descartes’ Cogito, on the antinomies (and the idea of the world), and on Kant’s refutation of the proofs of the existence of God, including Spinoza’s God — that is, Nature or the causa sui. Alongside the evaluation of Kant’s arguments in these texts, we also touch on their relation to his account of enlightenment, specifically his understanding of thinking and faith (as opposed to knowledge), freedom, and revolution.

      Class, Gender, and Race, GPHI 6740
      Cinzia Arruzza, Associate Professor of Philosophy

      What role do gender and race play in class theory and politics? How should we reconceptualize class and class struggle in light of sexual and racial oppression as well as recent antiracist and feminist movements? This seminar focuses on competing Marxist theories of class: from objectivist or metaphysical accounts of class to the notion of class composition in Italian Operaismo and E.P. Thompson’s understanding of class as a historical category. It also addresses criticisms of Marxist class theories from feminist, race, and postcolonial theory and explores possible paths for an expansive and nonreductionist notion of class and class struggle.

      Ethics Under Oppression, GPHI 6741
      Asad Haider

      This course explores ethical questions posed by resistance to oppression, understood in a range of forms. We begin by examining the canonical prototypes of resistance to oppression and the notions of rights, universalism, freedom, equality, and emancipation they put forward. We then study the challenges to these notions and their geographical, economic, racial, and sexual boundaries. The readings combine philosophical texts with conceptual genealogies and historical case studies.

      Deleuze's Anti-Oedipus, GPHI 6742
      Daniel Rodriguez-Navas, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

      Described by Foucault as “An Introduction to the Non-Fascist Life,” Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus (1972) is one of the most forceful and original critiques of psychoanalysis in the 20th century, its originality stemming from the distinctively anti-Cartesian conception of subjectivity that serves as the starting point. This seminar is dedicated to a close reading of the book.

      Socrates and An-archic Subjects, GPHI 6744
      Simona Forti

      From Kierkegaard to Peter Sloterdijk, from Pierre Hadot to Jonathan Lear, from Richard Bernstein to Alexander Nehamas, many have seen in Socrates the teacher of a way of life “out of place” or “out of joint,” who with his irony shatters social normativity and common beliefs. The possibility of domination depends on the way people constitute themselves as subjects: how they respond to, support, accept, or react against relations of power. In this seminar, we investigate the conditions of possibility for an idea of the self as capable of dissidence and resistance, capable of being not only “out of place” but “an-archic.” We read texts by Arendt, Foucault, Schürmann, Agamben, and others.

      Human Observation, GPHI 6752
      Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor of Philosophy, and Christian Madsbjerg

      We hope this course will change your life. True observation is the ability to look and listen without the interference of assumptions and prejudices. It is a skill that is becoming increasingly rare in the hyperconnected data-reliant world that we live in. This course is an attempt at returning to the human way of looking at things, a way that the industry is coming home to after experiencing the insufficiency of Big Data. In this seminar, we gain an understanding of the process of observation by reading selections from the philosophical works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, William James, Martin Heidegger, and John Stuart Mill. In addition, we read examples of great observation from the literary works of J.A. Baker, Annie Dillard, Georges Perec, Lawrence Durell, and Nicholson Baker, to learn what it takes to conjure a lived experience on a page. Class discussions are accompanied with rich industry examples in which the practical application of human observation has solved complex business or government problems. Students complement their theoretical study with practice. The city of New York is perhaps one of the best places in the world to observe human beings engaged in social practices. Students work in groups and immerse themselves in a lived experience of their choosing, each making an individual attempt at describing their observation. Group members critique one another’s observations of the same lived experience, focusing on the strength of observation and clarity of description.  

      Truth, Deception, Politics, and Media, GPHI 6753
      James E. Miller, Professor of Liberal Studies and Politics

      The concept of truth and the virtues of truth telling have played a surprisingly paradoxical role in a variety of cultural settings. This seminar explores that role in literature, political theory, and in the practices of modern fact-finding institutions, including journalism. Readings include Oedipus Rex, The Republic by Plato, The Prince by Machiavelli, Hannah Arendt on lying, Jonathan Schell's Time of Illusions (an account of a journalist trying to get to the bottom of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s), and philosophical works debating the value of truth, including works by Richard Rorty and Bernard Williams. We look closely at the actions of Edward Snowden and the media coverage of his NSA revelations as an example of both truth telling and a type of advocacy journalism scornful of claims to “objectivity.” In addition, the class is joined for several sessions by a visiting investigative journalist, who talks about his or her experience in trying to discover the truth about a specific event.

      Life and the Question of Being in Aristotle, GPHI 6754
      Joseph Lemelin, Onassis Lecturer

      In this seminar, we engage in a close study of Aristotle’s De anima (On the Soul), a work on the principles and capacities of living things. In addition to examining traditional psychological concerns of this work, such as perception and mind, we focus on ways in which the study of life and the living might contribute to Aristotle’s ontological investigations of substance and being. In particular, we consider the relationship between the principles of matter and form as manifest in living things, as well as Aristotle’s analogies between nature and art. Our reading of De anima is supplemented with relevant selections from other works in Aristotle’s corpus, including Metaphysics, Physics, Parts of Animals, Movement of Animals, and Generation of Animals.

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