Robert B. Pippin is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author of several books and articles on German idealism and later German philosophy, including Kant's Theory of Form; Hegel's Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self-Consciousness; Modernism as a Philosophical Problem; and Idealism as Modernism: Hegelian Variations. In addition he has published on issues in political philosophy, theories of self-consciousness, the nature of conceptual change, and the problem of freedom. He also wrote a book about literature and philosophy: Henry James and Modern Moral Life. A collection of his recent essays in German, Die Verwirklichung der Freiheit appeared in 2005, as did The Peristence of Subjectivity: On the Kantian Aftermath, and his book on Nietzsche, Nietzsche, moraliste français: La conception nietzschéenne d'une psychologie philosophique appeared in 2006. His most recent book, Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy, will be published on February 17, 2012 by the University of Virginia Press. He was twice an Alexander von Humboldt fellow, is a winner of the Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award in the Humanities, and was recently a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the American Philosophical Society.
Robert Pippin's recorded lectures & interviews
Please see my CV (PDF) for a complete list of publications.
PHIL 20208/30208. Film Aesthetics. (=SCTH XXXXX, CMST 27205, CMST 37205) This course will examine two main questions: what bearing or importance does narrative film have on philosophy? Could film be said to be a form of philosophical thought? a form moral reflection? of social critique? Second, what sort of aesthetic object is a film? This question opens on to several others: what is the goal of an interpretation of a film? Is there a distinct form of cinematic intelligibility? What difference does it make to such questions that Hollywood films are commercial products, made for mass consumer societies? What role does the “star” system play in our experience of a film? We will raise these questions by attempting close readings of the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Films to be discussed: Shadow of a Doubt; Notorious; Strangers on a Train; Rear Window; Vertigo; North by Northwest; Psycho; Marnie. Selected critical readings will also be discussed. (I) With J. Conant
57609. Philosophical Revolutions in the Concept of Form.(=SCTH XXXXX, GRMN XXXXX). Primary readings will be from Plato, Aristotle, Goethe, Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein. Our topics will include Platonic conceptions of eidetic form and Aristotelian conceptions of hylomorphism, their subsequent inheritance in the philosophical tradition, their transformation into German Idealist conceptions of endogenous (self-determining) form, and their significance for the philosophy of logic, mind, life, and art. Our central secondary readings will be from Gabriel Lear, Aryeh Kosman, John McDowell, Matt Boyle, Stephen Engstrom, Andrea Kern, Thomas Khurana, and Sebastian Rödl, all of whom will be invited to campus to present recent work on these topics and participate in the seminar. With J. Conant, D. Wellbery.
PHIL 51835. Philosophical Issues in Literary Criticism. Readings will include seminal theoretical works by Frye, Empson, Auerbach, Barthes, Cavell, Kittler. With D. Wellbery. Spring 2015.
PHIL 50602. Hegel’s Logic of the Concept. A discussion of the third and final part of Hegel’s Science of Logic. (V). Winter 2015.
23410/33410. Heidegger’s Being and Time.(=FNDL 27903) (III) Spring 2014.
50601. Hegel’s Science of Logic. (=SCTH 50601) PQ: Prior work in Kant's theoretical philosophy is a prerequisite. Hegel's chief theoretical work is called The Science of Logic. An abridged version is the first part of the various versions of his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences. We shall read and discuss representative passages from both versions, and attempt to understand Hegel's theory of concepts, judgment, and inference, and the place or role of such an account in his overall philosophical position. Several contemporary interpretations of these issues will also be considered. (V) Spring 2014.
2XXXX. Nietzsche. (= GRMN 28711, CMLT 28711). This course will provide, in lectures and discussion sections, an introduction to Nietzsche’s major writings from Birth of Tragedy to The Antichrist. Nietzsche’s evolving philosophical position as well as his cultural criticism and his literary and music criticism will be examined. Topics will include: the tragic, pessimism and affirmation, nihilism, antiquity and modernity, philosophical psychology, the critique of morality, and the interpretation of Christianity. Nietzsche’s biography, the major influences on his thought, and his impact on twentieth-century culture will also be considered, if only in glimpses. The primary instructor of the course will be David Wellbery, but James Conant and Robert Pippin will also join the class to discuss certain aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy. With David Wellbery, James Conant. Autumn 2011
23409/33409. Introduction to Heidegger. An introduction to the most important elements of Heidegger's philosophy, including: his account of the distinctness of human existence, his basic ontological theory, his account of Western modernity, his philosophy of art, and his relation to other philosophers, especially to Nietzsche. Prior work in philosophy is advisable. Spring 2012.
50601. Hegel's Science of Logic. Prior work in Kant's theoretical philosophy is a prerequisite. Hegel's chief theoretical work is called The Science of Logic. An abridged version is the first part of the various versions of his Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences.We shall read and discuss representative passages from both versions, and attempt to understand Hegel's theory of concepts, judgment, and inference, and the place or role of such an account in his overall philosophical position. Several contemporary interpretations of these issues will also be considered. (V) Winter 2012.
50010. The Modern Regime in Art I. The Ends of Romanticism (=SCTH 38111, GRMN 38111, CMLT 37300) This two quarter seminar (Fall, Winter) will discuss and evaluate efforts to conceptualize modernism in the arts from the eighteenth century to the present. Modernism is widely thought to challenge traditional notions of aesthetic success (theories of perfection, the beautiful, harmony, etc.) and by doing so to raise large philosophical questions about perception, experience, language and the modern condition itself. Who first understood this massive change in aesthetic practices? Who best understood why it occurred? Is there such a thing as modernist philosophy? Did modernism “end”? Of what significance is that fact?
Readings in the first quarter will include a range of philosophical and critical texts by Hölderlin, Schiller, Schlegel, Schelling, Hegel, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Vincent Descombes, Michael Fried, and a consideration of some of the paintings of Édouard Manet. With D. Wellbery. Autumn 2010
50011. The Modern Regime in Art II: The Ends of Modernism (=SCTH 50011, GRMN 50011, CMLT 50001) A continuation of the Fall Quarter Seminar. Readings this quarter will include work by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, von Hofmannstahl, Greenberg, Clark, Fried, Benjamin, Adorno, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, and a consideration of abstractionism in art. With D. Wellbery. Winter 2011
59100. Workshop: German Philosophy The workshop encompasses all of the following six dimensions of German Philosophy: (1) German Idealism and its precursors (with a special emphasis on the close reading of Kant's and Hegel's major works), (2) 19h-century Germany philosophy (especially Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, neo-Kantianism, neo-Hegelianism, and Marxism), (3) 20th-century German philosophy (especially the phenomoneological and hermeneutic traditions), (4) the elucidation and development within the Anglophone tradition of central concepts, methods, and concerns from the German tradition (such as transcendental argument, genealogical critique, phenomenological method, etc.), (5) the German tradition in analytic philosophy (from its roots in Frege, through the Vienna Circle, up until the present), and, last but not least, (6) cutting-edge work by contemporary German philosophers on topics in all areas of philosophy. All auditors are welcome. Only graduate students may enroll in the workshop for credit. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor in order to enroll in workshop for credit. This Workshop meets over three quarters. Co-taught with James Conant. Autumn 2010
59200. Workshop: Literature and Philosophy The workshop explores questions at the intersection of philosophy and literature. We work across traditional disciplinary boundaries to encourage a conversation that transcends historical and geographical divisions. Topics of interest to the workshop include (though they are not limited to): the philosophy of literature, philosophy in literature and literary philosophy, the influence of philosophy on literature and vice-versa, the overlap of philosophy and literature in the intellectual imaginary of an era, intellectual and/or literary exchange between philosophers and literary figures, and hybrid forms of cultural production (e.g. myth). All auditors are welcome. Only graduate students may enroll in the workshop for credit. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor in order to enroll in workshop for credit. This Workshop meets over three quarters. Co-taught with Thomas Pavel. Autumn 2009; Winter 2010; Spring 2010
Kant's Transcendental Deduction. A close reading and discussion of Kant’s First Critique, focusing on the Transcendental Deduction of the Pure Concepts of the Understanding. We will also explore carefully explore a handful of proposals for how to interpret the First Critique and especially the Transcendental Deduction, including ones put forward by Henrich, Strawson, Sellars, Allison, and McDowell. Co-taught with J. Conant. Spring 2010. Syllabus
Film Aesthetics: Agency and Fate in Film Noir. (= GERMN 30209) This course is a discussion of how philosophical issues are raised and addressed by movies through an examination of a particular film genre. The genre to be considered: film noir. We focus on ten Hollywood film noirs from the 1940s and 1950s. Topics include the pictorial and dramatic representation of the relation between thought and action, the nature of agency, and the problem of fate. We also secondarily touch on questions concerning the ontology and aesthetics of film (e.g., What is a movie? What is it to give a reading of a movie? What is a film genre?). We see and discuss a film each week and read several pieces of criticism about each film. Co-taught with J. Conant. Autumn 2009. Syllabus
Kant's Critical Philosophy. This course will be a survey of the major themes in all threes components of Kant's critical philosophy: his theory of transcendental idealism in his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics; his moral theory in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, and selected passages dealing with aesthetics from his Critique of Judgment. We shall be especially interested in how Kant understands the relationship among these components. The course will presuppose no prior knowledge of Kant, but prior courses in philosophy, especially modern philosophy, would be helpful. Winter 2009.
31400. Modern Theories of State Open to grad students and college students with consent of instructor. Prerequisites: Consent of instructor. This seminar concentrates on voluntarist or contractarian theories of the state in Rousseau and Kant, and the revisions and criticisms of that understanding by Fichte and Hegel. Autumn 2002.
Hegel's Aesthetics (=Fndmtls xxx; Germ 486; Soc Th 387). A discussion of Hegel's Lectures on Fine Art. Special attention to Hegel's theory of beauty; his account of the historical character and development of art; his account of poetry, especially dramatic poetry; and his theory about the"end of art" in the modern period. Not an introductory course.
Beauty (=SocTh 355). Various authors on the nature of the beautiful. What is beauty? How important is it? What is its relation to truth and goodness? Is modern art (visual art, poetry, novels, films) beautiful? We shall read and discuss work by philosophers, critics and artists, and shall discuss some art works that are themselves about their own beauty.
51300. Adorno Open to grad students. The aim of this seminar will be to achieve a comprehensive perspective on the most important elements of Adorno's version of critical theory. Special attention will be paid to the relation between Adorno's position and Kantian and Hegelian alternatives, to Adorno's theory of modernity, and to Adorno's ethical theory. Readings will include Dialectic of Enlightenment; Negative Dialectics; Hegel: Three Studies; Minima Moralia; Problems of Moral Philosophy, and selected essays on art, modernism, and aesthetics. Winter 2003.
51704. The Philosophy of Visual Moderism Open to grad students. Much of the reading for this course will be work by Michael Fried. Other material to be discussed will be by Denis Diderot, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Stanley Cavell. Persons expecting to take Fried's spring seminar are stongly encouraged to enroll in this seminar as well. See the announcement below. The Committee on Social Thought announces a Spring Quarter 2005 Graduate Seminar Thursdays, 3-5:50 Modern Photography and Other Themes Instructor: Michael Fried The guest professor for this seminar will be Michael Fried from Johns Hopkins University. The topics will be Fried's aesthetic theory, art criticism and art history, especially but not exclusively his views on photography. Co-taught with James Conant Winter 2005. Syllabus
43920. Action and Perception.Open only to grad students. The course will be devoted to exploring and assessing John McDowell's treatment of problems in the philosophy of perception (especially as set forth in his already classic work Mind and World) and the possibility of a parallel treatment of problems in the philosophy of action. In addition to some texts by McDowell and some selections from Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, and Wittgenstein, the seminar will focus mostly on writings on perception and/or action by Elizabeth Anscombe, Robert Brandom, Donald Davidson, Jennifer Hornsby, Brian O'Shaughnessy, John Searle, Michael Thompson, and Wilfrid Sellars. In the Winter Quarter, the course will be conducted by James Conant and Robert Pippin; in the Spring Quarter, the course will consist mostly of presentations of recent work on the philosophy of action by John McDowell and discussion of those presentations. Although the course meetings will be distributed over two quarters, it will count for only one quarter of credit. Students who wish to take the course for credit must attend the entire two-quarter sequence of the course Robert Pippin and James Conant . Winter 2007. Syllabus