THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY I
Learning outcomes of the course unit
1-Knowledge and understanding
The course presents a survey of the major positions of the contemporary debate on self-knowledge and of the main theoretical options there are for future research.
2-Applying Knowledge and understanding
Students will be trained to recognize, reformulate, and criticize arguments with the goal to acquire the skills necessary for doing philosophical research.
3-4-5 Making judgments, communication and learning skills
Students are invited to prepare the texts autonomously so as to be able to present the main arguments in short presentations in class. Guidance during their preparing and writing the term paper will allow them to develop the skills necessary to participate autonomously in the philosophical debate and to learn and enlarge their knowledge in an autonomous way.
Course contents summary
It is difficult to imagine that one might err concerning one’s own mental states. We know it when we believe that it is raining, when we have toothache, and when we have the desire to eat ice-cream (at least in the moment when we have the respective mental phenomenon). Some philosophers have even argued that each of us has privileged access to the content of his or her own thoughts and occurrent sensations and that this knowledge is the most solid form of knowledge we can have.
The goal of this course is to discuss contemporary theories of self-knowledge. In particular, we will analyse the source and the object of this form of knowledge: What do we know when we have self-knowledge? Is it a form of infallible knowledge or can there be moments in which other persons know better than ourselves what we think, feel or desire?
Reading of various contributions to the contemporary debate, starting with the volume “Self-Knowledge” (ed. by Quassim Cassam, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
During the meetings we will analyse a series of texts. There will be ample room for discussing the various aspects that emerge from the texts. The success of the course will depend essentially on the students’ active participation in discussion and they are encouraged to share their interests, doubts, and perplexities with the others. Students who are not able to assist the meetings in class will be able to follow the course via internet (the specifics of the online-platform will be announced).
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam consists in writing a short term-paper (10-12 pages ca.) in which the student shows their competences in formulating and discussing in an argumentative way a specific philosophical problem (in the field of self-knowledge), to reconstruct and contrast relevant arguments that have bee proposed by the philosophers discussed in class with the goal to draft a text that is informative for a non-expert reader. Students are invited to pay attention to the own expressive tools, to the coherent use of technical terminology, the cogency of the argument and a concise style.
The oral part of the exam consists in a discussion of the term paper.