Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam [ Erasmus University home page | Dept. of Philosophy home page ]

English language courses in legal philosophy

for the year 2001-2002
"Though this be madness, yet there is method in it"
- Shakespeare, Hamlet, II, ii, 205
In the academic year 2001-2002, the Department of Philosophy offers several courses in English on the subject of ethics and legal philosophy. The course described on this page can count both as a course in ethics, and as a course in legal philosophy. For other courses in ethics that are taught in English, see the guide on Courses in English, or contact the international relations office ICIR.
The course described below will in the first place, of course, be of interest to students of law and/or philosophy. It is however open to all foreign or exchange students at the Erasmus University.

The struggle for recognition

This course will be offered in the fall of 2001.
Place: Dept. of Philosophy EUR, Oostmaaslaan 950, Rotterdam.
Instructor: Gijs van Oenen

Course description

Recognition is a fundamental structures in social and moral life. It provides one of the most convincing answers to the question: what is it that we desire to get from others? Do we want to be right, or famous, or rich, or powerful? No, what we basically want is to be recognized. In other words, we desire others to see us as a worthy opponent. This basic structure of human desire has perceptively been described two centuries ago by Hegel, in his famous ‘master/slave’ dialectic – which has subsequently become a crucial reference point in much of 20th century (‘continental’) philosophy. Recently, Axel Honneth has shown how the notion of recognition can fruitfully be used in social philosophy, modifying and extending Jürgen Habermas’s theory of communicative action by reformulating it in terms derived from social psychology and philosophical anthropology. Honneth thus distinguishes three basic levels of recognition, and three corresponding ‘relations to self’: self-confidence, on the level of intimate relations; self-respect, on the level of fundamental legal relations; and self-esteem, on the level of social and cultural relations.
The core of the course will consist of reading and discussing Honneth’s book ‘Struggle for recognition’. In addition, some ‘classical’ texts by and on Hegel will be discussed, but primarily we will read work by contemporary authors work that relate to and build on Honneth’s work, such as Charles Taylor, Jessica Benjamin, Nancy Fraser, Maria Pia Lara, Jonathan Lear, and Alessandro Ferrara. Themes will include social philosophy, ethics, political theory, feminism, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies.

Seminar. Student participation is required and stimulated.

Axel Honneth, The struggle for recognition. MIT press 1995. Or German original: Kampf um Anerkennung, Suhrkamp 1991. Spanish translation also available.
An overview of the literature and the structure of the course is available.

For English language courses, the following applies:

Credit points: 5 weeks of full time study, equalling 7 1/2 European credit points.
Format: 2-hour weekly classes, for 15 weeks
Examination: oral, based on short paper by student.
Formal entry requirements: none. Some acquaintance with the fields of law and ethics is recommended.

For more info, do not hesitate to contact the instructor:
Dr Gijs van Oenen, Department of Philosophy, Oostmaaslaan 950 (5 minutes from Woudestein campus),
tel. +31.10.4088999 or +31.20.6860948.

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