Dialectics: Systems and their Negations module (PI42015)

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The module will offer the opportunity to examine the long-standing tradition of dialectical thinking in its different historical stages: from Plato to the Hegelian tradition, through Marxism and dialectical materialism up to contemporary thinkers (like Jameson, Malabou or Zizek). Dialectic has from the late 18th and early 19th century been interpreted as a doctrine or method to detect, to work out and to work through the contradictions that can be identified in the very constitution of all kinds of objects, subjects and their relations. It has thereby turned into a complex form of conceptualizing and systematizing negativity as its prime mover and principle and sought to rethink social relations, political action, the constitution of subjectivity and of objective reality - for example of nature - from this perspective. This module will discuss in depth different forms of systems of negations and ask how and if the respective systems are able to deal with negations of themselves.   

The primary aims are thus:    

  • To acquire detailed knowledge of the concept of dialectic and its different historical interpretations, systematizations and related problems 
  • To enable students to see the contemporary significance of dialectical thinking for debates in contemporary materialism and its significance to economic, environmental, social and political matters 
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of why thinking by negation can (not) avoid problems of traditional metaphysics 
  • For students to develop a critical assessment of views examined in class and for them to articulate their own views on the same topic 
  • For students to write a well-researched paper on a subject that will bring together different fields (like social, political or aesthetics phenomena and the concept of the negative)  


100% coursework

  • 1 x Short Essay (40%)  
  • 1 x Long Essay (60%)