Critical Politics: Marx, Popper, Foucault / Dr. Ilana Arbel
In this course we discuss some of the main issues in modern and postmodern political philosophy. The first part of the course is dedicated to Karl Marx’s critical project. We then discuss Karl Popper’s and Michel Foucault’s critiques, which were developed in reaction to Marxism. The main texts of the course are: E. Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment?"; K. Marx, The Communist Manifesto; K. Popper, “Science: Conjectures and Refutations”; The Open Society and Its Enemies; M. Foucault, The History of Sexuality 1; “What Is Enlightenment?”; N. Chomsky & M. Foucault, “Human Nature: Justice versus Power”.
Introduction to the History of Modern Thought / Dr. Idan Shimoni
Although philosophy has a long and impressive history beginning in ancient Athens, the conceptual constructs which constitute the heart of this discipline have been to a great extent reinvented in early modernity. Modern thinkers have revived the basic concepts of philosophy by asking fundamental questions like 'What can we know?' 'Is there a real world outside the mind?' 'Can we prove the existence of God?' 'What is personal identity?' 'What is the relation between body and mind?' 'What is the nature of human rationality?' We will discuss the main ideas and key concepts of 17th and 18th centuries by means of close reading of the metaphysical and epistemological writings of the most important philosophers of this era: Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, Wilhelm Gottfried Leibniz, George Berkeley, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. We shall also at timed consider the ethical, religious and political aspects of their systems of thought.
Introduction to Philosophy of Science / Dr. Itzik Yosef
The course will review central philosophical approaches during the scientific revolution of the 17th century and onward. We will first try to understand what the philosophy of science is and why we need it, or in other words what are the questions that this field of knowledge seeks to answer. We begin with the early attempts of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes to describe the role of experience and reason as building blocks of scientific knowledge. We then proceed to philosophical principles of Isaak Newton's approach to science, followed by David Hume's scepticism and criticism of inductive inferences. Finally, we will review the philosophical crisis which accompanied the collapse of classical physics in the early 20th century and the main philosophical answers which were developed in response to this crisis.
Rationality and Normativity: Science Politics, Religion / Prof. Menachem Fish
The ability to act for a reason and to deliberate the propriety and impropriety of a move are exclusively human capacities, by means of which human societies establish their world pictures, their social and political outlooks, and their religious cultures. However, the ability to act rationally turns out to be surprisingly and vexingly constrained by normative commitment. In the first part of the course, the problem will be explored against contemporary philosophical accounts of rationality, normativity, mind and self, and a general solution will be proposed. In the second part, the problem and proposed solution will be examined against the strained context of Kuhn’s account of scientific framework transitions and its aftermath.
In the third part of the course the rabbinic literature of late antiquity, exegetical and halakhic will be discussed as intriguingly aware of both the problem of rationality’s normative constraints and its solution.
Social Histories of Knowledge / Dr. Ori Rotlevi
In the age of "the knowledge society" we tend to think of knowledge as being on the web, in a network, rather than merely in the minds of individuals. Yet even before the invention of the internet, sociologists and historians used the metaphor of a network to describe the development of knowledge as a result of interactions and transmissions between agents such as institutions, human-beings, and even objects. This provides us with a history that is not a story of individual geniuses such as Aristotle or Newton, but rather a history of knowledge as social. We will examine several stations in this history, moving from mathematical knowledge in Ancient Greece to the astronomical revolution in the Renaissance, from medieval institutions of Islamic law to the Scholastics in European universities, from hospitals and prisons in the 18th century to Psychology at the end of the 19th century, thus revealing a history of communities of knowledge, of traditions and multiple revolutions, of habituating and disciplining agents of knowledge, and of the migration of knowledge between continents, cultures and disciplines.
From Homo Sapiens to Smart Robot: The Digital Revolution as a Culture Revolution / Dr. Noa Gedi
This course explores the meaning of the digital turn and its wide cultural implications. We begin with a conceptual mapping of the phenomenon of human culture and an anthropological survey of its origins: When does it first emerge in the world of nature? What are its identifying components? Is human culture unique or singular? What is the difference between biological and cultural evolution? We will then attempt to understand the circumstances in which culture revolutions take place; specifically, the dramatic change which ensued from the invention of digital technology which is a veritable overall cultural revolution. To fully appreciate and evaluate the meaning of the digital turn we will delve into some fundamental philosophical questions like the mind-body problem, the nature of consciousness, the relation between thought and language and between morality and society. These controversial questions which have always been relevant to human existence in every culture and at every stage of cultural development become all the more acute in the cybernetic era of VR and AI, in a world populated with a new artificial and mega smart species. Might the next phase of our cultural evolution imply a departure from humanistic ethnocentrism? Who or what might take the place of the human subject as the grand creator of culture?
The (Digital) Medium and the (Philosophical) Message: Philosophizing in the Digital Age / Dr. Shai Biderman
From its Socratic outset, we broadly define philosophy as a practice of reasoning and contemplation, concerned with abstract problems and universal principles, and, similarly important, unfolding in language. The age of digitation, of emoji and other non-verbal and non-lingual expressions, unstitches the Gordian knot between philosophy and it traditional means of expression. How, then, should we—can we—philosophize in the digital age? In the seminar, we examine the unique means by which digital components carry the burden of thought, partaking and thus enabling the process of reasoning and coherent thinking. Using the world of moving images (film, TV, etc.) as a predominant text case, we investigate the changes philosophy undergoes, and determine the unique attributes of “the age of digital thinking”.
Contemporary Issues in Digital Culture / Dr. Carmel Vaisman
Can we understand digital artifacts and contemporary phenomena with the available social and critical theory, or do we need new concepts and frameworks? In this course we engage with a variety of digital objects, genres, and phenomena through key approaches in digital cultural research in pursuit of the "new" in new media; identifying the issues in which past theories are more relevant than ever, alongside emergent issues which the tools to grasp them are a work in-progress.
Virtual Dao – Chinese Philosophy on the Web / Prof. Yoav Ariel
The course is intended as a historical survey of the major philosophical schools in ancient China, including Confucianism, Mohism, Legalism, Daosim, Yin and Yang School and School of Names. Through digital presentations, videos, blog posts, lectures, discussions, and reading of primary sources such as Confucius’ The Analects and Laozi’s Dao De Jing, we will focus on the central ideas of ancient Chinese philosophy and explore how these ideas were developed throughout Chinese history. We will also discuss how China's philosophical heritage affect the lives of today's Chinese, and the tension created by this heritage and modernity. The course will also focus on the basic principle of Chinese aesthetics and its role in Chinese culture and on the ethical correlation between the painting quality and the moral integrity of the painter.
Causality in Philosophy and Science / Dr. Itzik Yosef
This course attempts to arrive at a better understanding of the meaning of the causal relation between events. Prima facie, it seems that the concept of causality is necessary to the way we perceive the world, in science, in philosophy and in our mundane life. We all generate everywhere and all the time statements of the kind "A is the cause of B". Therefore, a better understanding of the concept of causality is an active field of research in philosophy, in machine learning and many more fields of knowledge. We will first examine the general accounts of causality in philosophy in order to give a reductive explanation to the concept (e.g., causality is the transfer of energy and momentum between two events, or causality is a psychological feature of our consciousness along with a model that describes how causality works in the brain). Then we will examine the specific use and meaning of the concept in physics, biology, law and history. We will eventually attempt to answer the question whether causality in necessary for making science, or just useful until we have a more accurate model of a certain phenomenon.
The Sociology of the Internet / Dr. Ofer Nordheimer Nur
The course surveys the cultural origins, social conditions and various discourses that have shaped and generated what is termed cyber culture (how life online changes us as individuals and as groups). At the core, we examine what cybernetic space does to human interaction, to knowledge and knowing and to society and politics. We examine the ambivalence towards technology as shaping society and culture. We begin with an introduction to the science and discourse of cybernetics as it developed since the late 1940s. We examine the ambivalence towards technology and the various cyber discourses from the point of view of those who justified its redeeming and even utopian qualities and follow closely the historical development of the internet as a culture and as a product of the Information Society.mporary configurations of techno-social participation and concepts such as public participation, participatory inequality, civic technoscience, feminist data science, community science, and data ideologies.
The Failures of Philosophy/ Dr. Kuti Shoham
Throughout the history of ideas in Western thought philosophy can be seen as an ongoing story of failures. The questions that philosophy raised were not adequately answered, at least not according to the criteria that philosophy set for itself. For example, Greek philosophers failed to give satisfactory account about the truth, medieval theologians did not establish faith, modernists did not solve the question of knowledge, and even contemporary philosophers seem to be irrelevant or dogmatic when they try to write about values. However, in every other respect, that is non-philosophical, philosophy is an ongoing story of success. The course reviews and analyzes the questions that were given by philosophy to major questions in classical Greece, in medieval Scholasticism, in early and late Modernity, raising issues concerning life in the 21st century.
Civic Technoscience and the Politics of Knowledge in the Digital Age / Dr. Hagit Keysar
The course aims to critically examine the promise of democratization that accompanies these modes of political and material participation that have emerged over the past two decades, which made it possible to reshape social and cultural norms related to how we perceive and participate in the production of information, communication, research, governance, activism and more. We will briefly review the major changes that have taken place in the interaction between science, technology, and society from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day, focusing on a broad spectrum of institutional, civic, or decentralized forms of knowledge and action. We will examine the change in perceptions of knowledge, scientific authority, and expertise, as well as the role of participatory technologies in the formation of new kinds of publics, communities and collectives that emerge around environmental, spatial and political issues, and pay special attention to various aspects of openness and open (source) technologies.
Mind, Cognition, and Technology in the 21 Century / Dr. Oren Bader
The course examines the impact of the current digital revolution on human consciousness and cognition. Ample evidence indicates that the innovative technologies of the 21st century alter human attention, memory, and brain functions, and profoundly influence how we act, remember, and acquire information on everyday environments. Another important aspect of the use of new technologies, highlighted by current debates in the philosophy of mind, is that they often shape how people are conscious of their world. We will take a close look at the intriguing relationship between humans and new technologies and ask ourselves how the human-technology interface impacts consciousness and cognition at the beginning of the 21st century and whether the changes we see in our time are unique.