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 essays in German, Die Verwirklichung der Freiheit, appeared in 2005, as did The Persistence of Subjectivity: On the Kantian Aftermath, and his book on Nietzsche, Nietzsche, moraliste français: La conception nietzschéenne d'une psychologie philosophique, appeared in 2006. Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy appeared in 2012. 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. He is also a member of the German National Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017)
Die Aktualität des Deutschen Idealismus (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2017)
Interanimations: Receiving Modern German Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2015)
After the Beautiful. Hegel and the Philosophy of Pictorial Modernism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013)
Kunst als Philosophie. Hegel und die Philosophie der modernen Bildkunst (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2012)
Introductions to Nietzsche, ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012)
Hegel on Self-Consciousness. Desire and Death in the 'Phenomenology of Spirit' (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011); Italian Translation, 2015
Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010) - Link
Hegel's Concept of Self-Consciousness, 2009 Spinoza Lectures (Amsterdam: van Gorcum, 2010) - Link
Nietzsche, Psychology, First Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010) - Link; Spanish Translation, 2015
Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life (Cambridge University Press, 2008) - Link
Robert Pippin's recorded lectures & interviews
PHIL 28006/38006 Philosophical Fiction: Proust's In Search of Lost Time
We will discuss all seven volumes of Proust's magisterial novel, In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927). In order to be able to do so in a ten week quarter, students must announce their intention to register for the course before the end of the Spring quarter of 2018, and pledge to have read the entire novel before the March, 2019 beginning of the seminar. (They can do so by emailing Robert Pippin at firstname.lastname@example.org.) The novel is well known for its treatment of a large number of philosophical issues: including self-identity over time, the nature of memory, social competition and snobbery, the nature of love, both romantic and familial, the role of fantasy in human life, the nature and prevalence of jealousy, the nature and value of art, the chief characteristics of bourgeois society, and the nature of lived temporality. Our interest will be not only in these issues but also in what could be meant by the notion of a novelistic "treatment" of the issues, and how such a treatment might bear on philosophy as traditionally understood. We shall use the Modern Library boxed set of seven volumes for the English translation, and for those students with French, we will use the Folio Collection paperbacks of the seven volumes. (I)
PHIL 28114/38114 Film and Philosophy: Issues in Melodrama
The general question to be addressed: might film (realist fictional narratives especially) be a reflective form of thought, and if so, might that form of reflection be considered a philosophical one? The genre to be interrogated with this question in mind will be melodramas, narratives of great suffering and extreme emotional experiences, the best of which explore how we might make sense of such suffering. A prominent question: the difference between tragedy and melodrama, and the bearing of that difference on the general question. We shall watch several films in connection with these questions, including Max Ophuls's Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), King Vidor's Stella Dallas (1937), Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life (1959), Written on the Wind (1956), and Rainer Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972). We shall also explore different cinematic treatments of a common melodramatic plot, and consider together Sirk's All that Heaven Allows (1955), Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), and Todd Haynes's Far from Heaven (2002), the last two of which are variations on Sirk's plot. Readings will include Stanley Cavell's The World Viewed and Contesting Tears, essays by André Bazin, work by Peter Brooks, Fassbinder, and Thomas Elsaesser, and selected essays on the films. (I)
For advanced undergrads, consent of instructor required.
PHIL 50305 Oedipus and Hamlet: On the Philosophy of Tragedy
In this class we will consider closely attempts to understand tragedy philosophically. Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Shakespeare's Hamlet, two texts that have particularly attracted philosophical attention will serve as constant reference points, but other paradigmatic tragedies (Euripides Bacchae, Goethe's Faust, Beckett's Endgame) will also be considered. Among the philosophical contributions to be considered are works by Aristotle, Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Scheler, Schmitt, Benjamin, Murdoch, and Menke. Major issues to be dealt with: the structure of tragic plot; the tragic affects; catharsis; ancient and modern tragedy; tragedy and the tragic; the aesthetics of tragedy; tragedy and society; tragedy and the sacred.
PHIL 24709/34709 Nietzsche's Critique of Morality
A close reading of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals, supplemented by passages from The Gay Science, and Bernard Williams's book, Shame and Necessity. Of special importance: the appeal to "psychology" in the critique of morality.
PHIL 28203/38203 Hegel's Philosophy of Right
In this course we shall seek to understand Hegel's 1821 book, Elements of the Philosophy of Right. This book is traditionally understood to contain Hegel's "political philosophy," but the book also proposes a metaphysics of human agency, claims about the relation of philosophy to its own historical time, a rejection of utopian political thinking, a theory of crime and punishment, and a theory of the relationship between individual and communal life that he says is based on his "speculative philosophy," and so is "dialectical." In Hegel's terms, the book should be understood as his theory of "objective spirit," and we shall attempt to understand what that subject matter might be. (V)
The course will be a seminar/discussion with restricted enrollment at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Prior work in philosophy, especially in practical philosophy, is highly recommended.
PHIL 51903 On Aesthetic Form
This seminar is part of a joint research project (The Idealist Project: Self-Determining Form and the Foundation of the Humanities) sponsored by the Neubauer Collegium. The focus of the year's activities is the topic of aesthetic form. There will be two conferences on this topic with the participation of leading international scholars in Autumn 2016 and Spring 2017, with the conference participants returning for seminar sessions devoted to readings of their work. Particular (but not exclusive) attention will be paid to the theory of tragedy. Important points of reference are works by Goethe, Schelling, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Cavell. (I)