Arnold Davidson

Arnold Davidson
Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 228
773.702.9849
Harvard University PhD (1981)
Teaching at UChicago since 1986; on leave Spring 2019
Research Interests: Contemporary European Philosophy, Moral and Political Philosophy, Human Sciences, Philosophy of Religion, History and Philosophy of Judaism

Arnold I. Davidson is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Committee on the Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science, the Divinity School, and the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge. European Editor of Critical Inquiry, he is also a director of the France-Chicago Center. His major fields of research and teaching are the history of contemporary European philosophy, the history of moral and political philosophy, the history of the human sciences, the history and philosophy of religion, and the philosophy of Judaism.

He has been a visiting professor at many French institutions (including the Collège de France, the École Normale Supérieure, the University of Paris I and the University of Paris VII) and has also been Professor of the History of Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa and Professor of the Philosophy of Cultures at the University Ca'Foscari Venice, where he has been named an honorary member of the faculty. Most recently he has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he has been the jazz critic for the Sunday cultural supplement, "Domenica," of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.

His current projects revolve around figures as diverse as Pierre Hadot, Joseph Soloveitchik, Michel Foucault, and Primo Levi, and around themes that range from the history of spiritual exercises and practices of self-transformation to the relation between Talmudic and philosophical argumentation, and the aesthetics, ethics and politics of improvisation. He is also currently working on a critical edition of the manuscripts of Zalman Gradowski. Gradowski was assigned to the Sonderkommando in Auschwitz---he managed to write one of the most singular and powerful accounts of the Shoah, from both an historical and a literary point of view, composed during the time of the events themselves. His manuscripts were buried under the ashes of Birkenau and discovered after the war. This edition (under contract with the University of Chicago Press) will be the first complete critical edition in English. Davidson's main publications are in French, Italian, and Spanish, as well as in English.

,

Selected Publications

Books:

Series editor of the English translation of the courses of Michel Foucault at the Collège de France. Palgrave Macmillan, UK/USA. (This series will result in thirteen volumes.)

Co-author of Reflexões sobre o nacional-socialismo. Editora Âyiné, 2017.

Editor of Pierre Hadot, Studi di filosofia antica. Edizioni ETS, 2014.

Religión, razón y espiritualidad. Ediciones Alpha Decay, Barcelona, 2014.

Editor of Primo Levi, Vivir para contar. Escribir tras Auschwitz. Ediciones Alpha Decay, Barcelona, 2010.

Editor of La vacanza morale del fascismo. Intorno a Primo Levi. Edizioni ETS, 2009.

Co-editor of Michel Foucault. Philosophie. Gallimard, 2004 (an anthology of the writings of Michel Foucault).

The Emergence of Sexuality: Historical Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts. Harvard University Press, 2001. (Translation into Portugese, Italian, Spanish and French with a new preface). - Link

Editor of Pierre Hadot. Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique.Albin Michel, 2002. (Translation into approximately ten languages, with a new preface in the Italian Edition.)

Editor of Foucault and His Interlocutors. The University of Chicago Press, 1997.

La philosophie comme manière de vivre (Co-authored with Pierre Hadot and Jeannie Carlier). Albin Michel, 2001. (Translated into approximately ten languages) - English translation: The Present Alone is Our Happiness: Conversations with Jeannier Carlier and Arnold I. Davidson (translated by Marc Djaballah), Stanford University Press, 2009.

Editor of Pierre Hadot. Philosophy As a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault. Basil Blackwell Press, 1995. Link

Article:

“Spiritual Exercises, Improvisation, and Moral Perfectionism: With Special Reference to Sonny Rollins,” in Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies. Edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut. Oxford University Press, 2016.

,

Media

Arnold Davidson's recorded lectures & interviews

,

Recent Courses

PHIL 50007 Michel Foucault: "Les aveux de la chair"

(DVPR 50007, FREN 40007, CMLT 50007)

The last volume of Foucault's history of sexuality has finally been published after more than a 30 year wait. In this volume Foucault moves from his previous focus on Greco-Roman culture to early Christianity, and his account culminates in an extensive discussion of Saint Augustine. This seminar will consist of a close reading of "Les Aveux de la chair", supplemented by a few other texts from the later Foucault. We will also try to draw some general methodological and philosophical conclusions from our reading.

Good reading knowledge of French and familiarity with the previous volumes of Foucault's "Histoire de la sexualité". All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to wweaver@uchicago.edu by 12/14/2018. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Continental Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 55111 Reading Religion Philosophically

(DVPR 55111)

We will examine the question of what it means to read religious texts and practices from a philosophical point of view.

Enrollment requires the consent of the instructor and the course is only open to advanced graduate students who are writing a thesis or preparing comprehensive exams. For more information contact the instructor.

2018-2019 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 24800 Foucault and the History of Sexuality

(GNSE 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, KNOW 27002)

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended.

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Continental Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

PHIL 53360 Philosophy of Judaism: Soloveitchik Reads the Classics

(HIJD 53360, DVPR 53360, KNOW 47002)

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the most important philosophers of Judaism in the twentieth century. Among his many books, essays and lectures, we find a detailed engagement with the Bible, the Talmud and the fundamental works of Maimonides. This course will examine Soloveitchik's philosophical readings and appropriation of Torah, Talmud, and both the Guide and the Mishneh Torah. A framing question of the course will be: how can one combine traditional Jewish learning and modern philosophical ideas? What can Judaism gain from philosophy? What can philosophy learn from Judaism?

All students interested in enrolling in this course should send an application to jbarbaro@uchicago.edu by 12/15/2017. Applications should be no longer than one page and should include name, email address, phone number, and department or committee. Applicants should briefly describe their background and explain their interest in, and their reasons for applying to, this course.

2017-2018 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Religion

PHIL 24800 Foucault & The History of Sexuality

(GNDR 23100, HIPS 24300, CMLT 25001, FNDL 22001, KNOW 27002)

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended.

2016-2017 Autumn
Category
Continental Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy
,

For full list of Arnold Davidson's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.