Matthias Haase is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. He is a scholar in the research project Virtue, Happiness, & the Meaning of Life led by Candace Vogler and Jennifer Frey. His research is focused on foundational topics at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of mind. A central historical interest is the tradition of German Idealism, especially the aspects that are tied to Aristotle. He has also written on Wittgenstein and Frege. His current research project is devoted to the question whether there are specifically practical species of knowledge, reason and truth--and what this means for the philosophical account of our fundamental concepts of ethics like good, ought, justice as well as action, character and will.
Haase's previous appointments were at the Philosophisches Seminar at Universitat Basel and Institut fur Philosophie at Universitat Leipzig, with a two-year visiting fellowship at Harvard between them. His graduate studies were conducted at Freie Universitat Berlin, Humboldt Universitat Berlin, and finally Universitat Potsdam, and he spent several years at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting scholar before completing his doctoral degree.
“Leben und Anerkennen: Micheal Thompsons Praktischer Naturalismus”, in: Martin Hähnel, Ethischer Naturalismus, Metzler, In Press
“Geist und Gewohnheit: Hegels Begriff der anthropologischen Differenz”, in: Andrea Kern, Christian Kietzmann (ed.), Selbstbewusstes Leben, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., 2017
“For Oneself and Toward Another: The Puzzle About Recognition”, in: Philosophical Topics, Vol. 42, Issue 1, Spring 2014, (appeared 2015), 113-152.
“Warum man das Allgemeine nicht essen kann”, in: Jens Kertscher, Jan Müller (ed.), Lebensformen und Praxisformen, Mentis, Münster 2015, 289-297.
“Am I You?”, in: Philosophical Explorations, Special Issue, Naomi Eilan (ed.) The You Turn, 17 (3), 2014, 358-371.
“Life and Mind”, in: Thomas Khurana, The Freedom of Life: Hegelian Perspectives, (ed.), August Verlag, Berlin 2013, 69-109.
“Die Wirklichkeit meiner Tat”, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, 61/3, 2013, 419-433.
“Three Forms of the First Person Plural”, in: Rethinking Epistemology, (eds.) Günter Abel, James Conant, Walter de Grutyer, Berlin 2012, 229-256.
“The Laws of Thought and the Power of Thinking”, in: Canadian Journal of Philosophy, supplementary volume 35, Belief and Agency, (ed.) David Hunter, 2011, 249-297.
“Drei Formen des Wissens vom Menschen”, in: Natürlich Gut. Aufsätze zur Philosophie Philippa Foots, (eds) Thomas Hoffmann, Michael Reuter, Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt a.M. 2010.
PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century
Immanuel Kant’s “critical” turn set off a revolution in 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects and the reactions against it. Our focus will be the conception of ethics and the philosophy of right. Kant’s main project was to show that the laws of morality and right are internal to the very ideas of practical reason and autonomy. On the one hand, we will study Post-Kantian German Idealist attempt to complete the enlightment project: J.G. Fichte and G.W.F. Hegel argue that since the idea of freedom cannot be understood independently of its actuality, one has to give an account of the necessity of its realization in the material world. On the other hand, we will investigate the (constitutive(?)) blindspots of this tradition and its abstract conception of the subject. In this connection we will study the critical works of Karl Marx, Mary Wollstonecraft, Frederick Douglass and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.
PHIL 28203/38203 Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
We will study Hegel’s Elements of Philosophy of Right. The book is an absolute classic of practical philosophy. Its ambition is nothing less than to provide a systematic treatment of the unity of action theory, ethics and political philosophy. Hegel’s theory is considered by many as the highpoint and completion of practical philosophy in the post-Kantian German Idealism. And it is essential for the development Marxism and Critical Theory. It is a crucial treatise to study – not only for those interested of the history of ethics and political theory, but for anyone reflecting on the logic and origins of the kind of society we live in. At the same time, the book is hardy an easy read. For one, the genre of text is quite peculiar: it was written for as a condensed “Leitfaden” for the students listening Hegel’s lectures. Moreover, the range of topics discussed under the heading of the Philosophy of Right – as well the order in which they are presented – seems quite from a contemporary perspective.
Hegel’s guiding thought is that the power of practical reason and freedom can only be understood through its actuality. What stands at center of his treatise is thus the idea of practical reality, encapsulated in his famous slogan that “the rational is actual and the actual is rational.” Hegel’s point is that the domain of the practical is a stratum of being that is not a reality given to the mind, but one that reason apprehends as its own work in virtue of bringing it into being. This thesis has two sides: On the one hand, it means that there are aspects of reality whose very existence depends on our understanding of them as rational. On the other hand, it means that the norms of rationality cannot be understood independently of their realization in practice. Various features of our contemporary intellectual climate make it difficult for us to grasp this idea. Hegel’s slogan is often taken as a peculiar excess of Absolute Idealism that just reflects a conservative attitude towards the status quo. However, the central topics for a Marxist critique of right and western liberalism – such as alienation, exploitation and imperialism – can already be found in Hegel’s account on bourgeois society. (V)
G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of Philosophy of Right, ed. by A.W. Wood,, trans. by H.B. Nisbet, Cambridge University Press
PHIL 24266/34266 Habit, Skill and Virtue
Aristotle distinguishes two kinds of intellectual excellence or knowledge in the domain of the practical: techne and phronesis. The one is in the order of an ability, the other in the order of a tendency. The artisan knows how to build a house, but whether she decides to do so is not explained by that knowledge. The phronimos, by contrast, knows to act well such that it is not a further question whether she chooses to do so. In contemporary epistemology and action theory, these two kinds of expertise are often discussed under the heading of ‘intelligent skill’ and ‘intelligent virtue’ as irreducibly practical forms of cognition that can’t be assimilated to knowing that something is the case. Following Gilbert Ryle’s seminal discussion in The Concept of Mind, both, skill and virtue, are standardly opposed to ‘brute’ or ‘mere habit.’ The general concept of habit has received surprisingly little attention. In the seminar we will start with the discussion of habit in the Aristotelian tradition, before we turn to the contemporary debates on the two kinds of practical knowledge. Among the questions we will discuss are the following: What is the role of habit in human life? Can knowing how be reduced to knowing that? And if not, what kind of conceptual understanding does it involve? Can virtue be explained through the analogy with skill? Or does the intelligibility of latter ultimately depend on the former, as Aristotle suggest? (I)
PHIL 58205 Fichte on You and I
The Foundations of Natural Right contains Fichte’s most influential contribution to philosophy: the argument that thought is a constitutively social and thus linguistic phenomenon. Self-consciousness and mutual recognition necessarily go together. There can only be an ‘I’, a thinking individual, insofar as there is a ‘You’ and thus a material medium of address. The argument is part of Fichte’s ambitious project to deduce the necessity of individual rights and directed duties from the ‘I think.’ The rather elevated starting point and the details of the purported deduction were quickly doubted and are notoriously hard to understand. But the questions raised in the course of the endeavor set the agenda for the philosophy of right in the German Idealist tradition. From the contemporary perspective, one of the most striking features of the approach is the wide range of topics that are said to belong to an investigation with that title. According to Fichte, the philosophy of right must explain both: what we owe to each other and how we know of each other. Knowledge of another person and the necessity of her rights must have the same source. To show this Fichte discusses the relation between theoretical and practical reason; the ground of the idea of the efficacy of the will in the material world; the distinct appearance of the ‘body’ of a rational being. The main part of the class will be a close reading of the first steps in Fichte’s Foundations of Natural Right (1796). Then we will look at later versions of the argument for the unity self-consciousness and recognition in the Wissenschaftslehre and in The System of Ethics (1798). (I)
PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century
Immanuel Kant's "critical" turn set off a revolution in 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects as well as the reactions against in the post-Kantian German Philosophy, in particular of Fichte, Hegel and Marx. Our focus will be conception of ethics and the philosophy of right.
The course will begin with the investigation of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals that articulates the project to grounding all ethical obligations in the idea of freedom or autonomy. Then we will look at the beginnings Kant’s Doctrine of Right in his Metaphysics of Morals: his reflections on our relation to concrete other wills in space and time. Next will be the discussion of Fichte’s challenge in his Foundations of Natural Right. A proper philosophy of right, Fichte argues has to include an account of our original knowledge and relation to concrete other wills. The most radical and complete development of this thought we will discuss in Hegel's Philosophy of Right that seeks to derive from the idea of freedom not just formal constraints for action, but knowledge of the actuality of our community in he calls "ethical life". We will conclude with the Marx critique of the very idea of right.
Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.
PHIL 53020 Agency and Action
Human or rational agency is the power to change objects in the world according to one’s conception of what is to be. Accordingly, a philosophical account of human agency requires an investigation of the notions power and change, and the way in which they are specified by idea that the respective exercise of the power to affect change proceeds from a concept or conception of what is to be. According to the Aristotlelian tradition that has been taken up by G.E.M. Anscombe and the recent literature following her, this task can only be accomplished by making space for the idea of a specifically practical species of genus inference and knowledge: a kind of inferring that concludes in action and a kind of knowledge that is productive of its object.
We will study Anscombe’s Intention and recent work on the following topics: What is a causal power? What is a process? What kind of power or capacity is know how or skill such that its exercise is an intentional action? What kind of inference is the practical syllogism such that it concludes in action? What is for knowledge to be practical? And above all: What is the logical grammar of the ‘I do’ and how is it related to the ‘I think’?
We will discuss texts by G.E.M. Anscombe; Maria Alvarez; Donald Davidson; Jonathan Dancy; Jennifer Hornsby; John Hyman; Sebastian Rödl; Kieran Setiya; Michael Thompson; David Velleman et al. (III)
PHIL 54260 Recent Ethical Theory
What is the role of the other, the second person, in ethics? The class inquiries into the relation between three aspects of being with others - the normative, the recognitive and the communicative: (1) What we owe to each other, (2) what think and know of each other, and (3) what we say to each other. Obviously, they are interrelated in our lives in intricate ways. But what is the conceptual connection between them? Under the heading of 'bipolar obligations' or 'directed duties', the first has recently received quite a bit of attention. A directed duty is a duty I have to someone. And it is correlated with a right the other has against me. Here, 'right' and 'wrong' take on a relational form: wronging someone or doing right by her. The current debate tends to be focused on the following questions: Can this relational form of normativity be explained in terms of non-relation norms or is it irreducible and basic? And if it is basic, what is the 'source' of this form of normativity? Furthermore: Is the relation of right essentially reciprocal and thus a relation between persons; or can the status 'bearer of rights' be extended to kinds of beings that principally have no duties to me (animals, plants, or perhaps the environment)? Moreover, is having rights really essentially relational such that my status as a bearer of rights, a person, depends on there being others who have duties to me? If so, does understanding myself as a person depend on my knowledge of the actuality of other wills? We will approach these questions by investigating the role that the recognitive and the communicative has to play in a proper account of bipolar obligations. Of course, in human life this kind of normativity is connected with specific kinds of attitudes towards persons - respect, blame and resentment - and specific kinds of speech acts that paradigmatically involve the second person pronoun: consent, protest and demand. But common views suggest a conceptual separation: on the one hand, the idea that sub-rational beings can have rights; on the other hand, the idea that knowledge of the fundamental normative principle must be independent of the actuality of communicative exchange with others. The hypothesis of the class is that such a separation is untenable. A proper account of what we owe to each other must at same time be an account of how we know of each other and how we address one another. One might call this "linguistic idealism" about rights and directed duties. In this way, treatment of the other in ethics requires venturing into philosophy of mind and language: the puzzles about knowledge other wills and the puzzles about the logical grammar of 'you.' (I)
PHIL 28204/38204 Philosophy of Right: Fichte, Kant, Hegel
We will do a comparative reading of the beginnings of the philosophies of right of Fichte, Kant and Hegel. We will start with Fichte's attempt for a swift deductions of the concept of right from the 'I think' and then look how the introduction of rights is more complicated in the case of Kant and Hegel. (A) (I)
PHIL 29601 Intensive Track Seminar
We will do a close reading of G.E.M. Anscombe's Intention and some of the related essays.
Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive track program.
PHIL 21507/31507 Recognition in Ethics
The seminar investigates the role of interpersonal self-consciousness in ethics. We will begin with the reflection on the bipolar normative nexus of the rights and duties we have toward each other as persons and then inquire into its connection to the capacity to know other minds, the capacity for other forms of non-instrumental concern for others and the capacity for communicative interaction with others. What is the relation between the status of a person, a bearer of rights, the recognition of others as persons and the practice of addressing each other in speech? Readings will include texts by Stanley Cavell, Steven Darwall, Francis Kamm, Christine Korsgaard, Thomas Nagel, Christopher Peacocke and T.M. Scanlon. (I) (III)
PHIL 51216 Being and Goodness: Varieties of Constitutivism
In contemporary meta-ethics, Constitutivism figures as an alternative to the familiar opposition between Realism and Non-Cognitivism. The fundamental norms to which we are subject in acting are not independent of our agency. Yet they are the objects of knowledge. They are internal to what we are. We will look at the recent debate on how such a view is to be spelled out and whether it provides viable alternative to Realism and Non-Cognitivism. Which characterization of us allows the derivation of substantive normative principles: the abstract concept of an agent or the concrete concept of a human being? What is the logical grammar of the relevant sortal concept? And how does our knowledge of our kind enter into its characterization? Readings will include texts by David Enoch, Christine Korsgaard, David Velleman, Phillippa Foot, Michael Smith, Judy Thompson and Michael Thompson. (I) (III)