Matthias Haase

Matthias Haase
Assistant Professor
Rosenwald Hall, Room 218-B
Office Hours: Autumn Quarter: Thursdays, 5:00 - 7:00 pm *Email to schedule an appointment
Universität Potsdam PhD (2007)
Teaching at UChicago since 2017
Research Interests: Ethics, Moral Psychology, Philosophy of Action, German Idealism

Matthias Haase is Assistant Professor of Philosophy. 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.

Selected Publications

Articles

- “Anscombe on the Dignity of the Human Being”, in: Adrian Haddock and Rachael Wiseman (eds.), The Anscombian Mind, Routledge 2022, 496-491.

- “Agency, Events, and Processes”, in: Luca Ferrero (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Philosophy Agency, Routledge 2022, 47-58.

https://www.routledge.com/The-Routledge-Handbook-of-Philosophy-of-Agency/Ferrero/p/book/9781138062849

- “Action, Knowledge, and Will by John Hyman”, review, Mind, October 2021.

https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzab039

- “Philosophie des Pöbels”, with Wolfram Gobsch, in: Wolfram Gobsch and Jonas Held, Orientierung durch Kritik, Meiner 2021, 225-246.

- “Life and Recognition: Michael Thompson’s Practical Naturalism”, in: Martin Hähnel (ed.), Aristotelian Naturalism, Springer International Publishing 2020, 247-263.

https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030375751

- “Knowing What I Have Done”, Manuscrito41(4), 2018, 195-253.

https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-60452018000400195&lng=en&tlng=en

- “Practically Self-Conscious Life”, in: John Hacker-Wright (ed.), Philippa Foot on Goodness and Virtue, London: Palgrave MacMillan 2018, 85-126.

https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783319912554#otherversion=9783319912561

- “The Representation of Language”, in: Christian Martin (ed.), Language, Form of Life, and Logic: Investigations after Wittgenstein (On Wittgenstein, Vol. 4). Berlin: de Gruyter 2018, 219-250.  

https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/524236

- “Geist und Gewohnheit: Hegels Begriff der anthropologischen Differenz”, in: Andrea Kern, Christian Kietzmann (eds.), Selbstbewusstes Leben, Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a.M., 2017, 389-426.

- “For Oneself and Toward Another: The Puzzle About Recognition”, Philosophical Topics, Vol. 42, Issue 1, Spring 2014 (appeared Fall 2016), 113-152.

https://www.jstor.org/stable/43932720?seq=1

- “Am I You?”, Philosophical Explorations, 2014, 358-371. (Reprinted in: Naomi Eilan (ed.), The Second Person: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives, Routledge 2016, 94-107.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13869795.2014.949065

- “Three Forms of the First Person Plural”, in: Günter Abel, James Conant (eds.), Rethinking Epistemology, Walter de Grutyer, Berlin 2012, 229-256.

https://www.degruyter.com/view/book/9783110277944/10.1515/9783110277944.229.xml

- “The Laws of Thought and the Power of Thinking”, in: Canadian Journal of Philosophy, supplementary volume 35, Belief and Agency, ed. by David Hunter, 2011, 249-297.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/canadian-journal-of-philosophy-supplementary-volume/article/laws-of-thought-and-the-power-of-thinking/C0C23CAB2DE560CF3326805B831BD4A6

 

Edited special issue of journal

- Varieties of Constitutivism, with Erasmus Mayr, Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 22 (2), 2019

https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rpex20/22/2

 

Recent Courses

PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's “critical” philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects and the responses to it, focusing on the changing conception of philosophical ethics. Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals rejects any appeal to nature or religious authority grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of freedom or autonomy conceived as something that is for everyone. At the same time, Kant’s own work and much of the tradition that follows seems deeply shaped by racism, sexism, and elitism. We will investigate this tension in the tradition that led inter alia to the modern university. We will discuss works by Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass, G.W.F. Hegel, Harriet Taylor Mill, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 27506/37506 The Second Person: Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

The ‘I think’ traditionally stands at the center of philosophical reflection. Yet there is a minority strand in the history of philosophy which has advocated that the second person pronoun is no less central. Human beings are social creatures. For this reason, addressing another as ‘you’ in communication is no less fundamental to human rationality than giving expression to oneself through saying ‘I.’ A guiding idea of the proposed seminar will be that, properly conceived, self-consciousness and recognition of another are two sides of one and the same phenomenon. In seeking to make out this claim, the seminar will explore the different aspects of the role of address in human life. It will take its point of departure from two guiding ideas: (1) the second-person present indicative form of interpersonal nexus is no less important for understanding human thought and action and logically no less fundamental than the corresponding first-person form, and (2) what is logically peculiar to the former form of thought is best brought to the fore if one examines what second-person thought in both its theoretical and practical guises have in common. The plan for the seminar is to alternate between examining problems in theoretical philosophy whose proper solution requires attention to the role of the second person and counterpart sorts of problem in practical philosophy. Under the first heading, we will explore the role of address and joint consciousness in speech act theory, the topic of shared understanding in the philosophy of language acquisition, and the problem of the apprehension of another human being as it arises in the epistemology of other minds. Interpolated between these topics, we will weave in and out of counterpart forms of philosophical difficulty arising out of reflection upon the place of the second-person in practical philosophy: in understanding the human striving for honor, in relations of justice, as well as in friendship and love. (I) (II)

 

At least one course in philosophy.

2022-2023 Spring

PHIL 23504/33504 Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind

In the class, we will study Hegel’s the first part of Philosophy of Mind: the account of “subjective spirit.” In the introduction, Hegel says that Aristotle’s books on the soul are the only work of speculative interest on the topic. We will consider the relation to De Anima where Aristotle considers three kinds of life or soul: vegetative, perceptive, and thinking soul. For this purpose, we will look at the end of Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature and then study the three sections of “subjective spirit”: the account of anthropology, phenomenology, and psychology. Topics will include the role of habit or second nature in human life, the relation between self-consciousness and recognition, and the unity of theoretical and practical reason. (IV)

Literature:

G.W.F. Hegel, Philosophy of Mind, A revised version of the Wallace and Miller translation. ed. by Michael Inwood, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2010

For the first meeting, please read Hegel’s short introduction to his Philosophy of Mind.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Philosophy of Mind

PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century

The philosophical ideas and methods of Immanuel Kant's “critical” philosophy set off a revolution that reverberated through 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects and the responses to it, focusing on the changing conception of philosophical ethics. Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals rejects any appeal to nature or religious authority grounding all ethical obligations in the very idea of freedom or autonomy conceived as something that is for everyone. At the same time, Kant’s own work and much of the tradition that follows seems deeply shaped by racism, sexism, and elitism. We will investigate this tension in the tradition that led inter alia to the modern university. We will discuss works by Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Frederick Douglass, G.W.F. Hegel, Harriet Taylor Mill, Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 53022 Agency and Alienation

The concept of alienation is central to the practical philosophy of Hegel and Marx. Following the work of the latter, the notion became a basic critical concept of social theory: under certain social conditions human agents are said to be alienated from their own agency. When the notion of alienation is discussed in contemporary analytic action theory and ethics, it tends to appear primarily as a tension or contradiction within the mind: as an estrangement from one’s own desires or from demands, norms, or ideals one is aware of. This internalization stands in stark contrast to the considerations that appear under that heading in the work Hegel and Marx. Here, the whole discussion is framed through the idea that one can only know one’s own agency through its realization in the world. Consequently, the problem of alienation appears as the impossibility of seeing oneself in one’s work.

Given the conceptual frameworks on offer in contemporary analytic action theory, it is not clear whether one can make sense of a critique of social conditions along these lines. The current debate on knowledge of one’s own actions divides into two main camps. The one side defines the human condition as one where one necessarily encounters one’s deeds just like other events in world: as alien and given from without. The other side defines intentional action as necessarily known by its subject from within or self-consciously. In consequence, there seems to be no space for a critique of alienation: either because it seems inevitable or because it seems impossible. One of the central questions of the seminar will be how one has to understand human agency such that alienation is conceivable.

On closer inspection, what Marx’ calls “alienation” seems to be ultimately a privation of the kind of practical knowledge that Aristotle calls “practical wisdom” (phronesis) and the correlated form of agency that he calls praxis. We will discuss Marx’ account in relation to Aristotle’s and Hegel’s developments of these concepts as well as in relation the discussion of practical reasoning, practical knowledge, and practical truth in the work of contemporary philosophers such as G.E.M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Christine Korsegaard, Gilbert Ryle, and Michael Thompson. Marx famously distinguishes four dimensions of alienation: the workers is said to be alienated (1) from their products, (2) from the act of production, (3) from the human form of life, and (4) from their fellow human beings. We will consider the respective practical categories and the correlated forms of practical cognition. (I) (III)

For the first session please read the bit on alienated labor in Marx’ Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 as well secondary literature posted on Canvas.

2021-2022 Spring
Category
Epistemology
Metaphysics

PHIL 21508/31508 Enslavement and Recognition

The so-called “master-slave” dialectic in G.W.F. Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit belongs to the most quoted passages in philosophy. The scene of the struggle is nearly as famous as Plato’s Cave and arguably just at as obscure as the shadows on its wall. In the course, we will study the passage against the background of philosophical thought on enslavement and recognition in the western tradition. The class divides into three parts. In the first part, we will begin with the question of the “unthinkability” of slavery, as it is discussed in recent analytic ethics. Then we turn to philosophical thought in the “unthinkable” relation: we study the philosophical articulation of the act of liberation; and we analyze the way in which the thought of the “master” is deeply rooted in the tradition of western philosophy. In the second part of the course, we will study Hegel’s account of the struggle for recognition. We will read the famous sections from the Phenomenology of Spirit and situate it in the wider context of Hegel’s development of the idea of recognition in his Philosophy of Mind. In the third part of the course, we will discuss the potentiality and the limitations of Hegel’s theory of recognition by considering three “contradictions” that arise (in one way or another) in Hegel’s account of the concrete recognitive community of ethical life in his Philosophy of Right. In intricate ways, those “contradictions” are related to what in contemporary discourse figures under the headings of sex, class, and race. (A) (I)

2021-2022 Winter

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.

2019-2020 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

PHIL 28203/38203 Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

(FNDL 28204)

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)

Literature:

G.W.F. Hegel, Elements of Philosophy of Right, ed. by A.W. Wood,, trans. by H.B. Nisbet, Cambridge University Press

2019-2020 Spring

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)

2019-2020 Winter

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)

2019-2020 Winter

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.

2018-2019 Spring
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

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)



 

2018-2019 Autumn
Category
Philosophy of Action

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)

2017-2018 Spring
Category
Ethics/Metaethics

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)

2017-2018 Winter
Category
Early Modern Philosophy (including Kant)
German Idealism

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.

2017-2018 Autumn
Category
History of Analytic Philosophy

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)

2016-2017 Spring
Category
Ethics/Metaethics

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)

2016-2017 Winter
Category
Ethics/Metaethics