New Materialisms and Realisms

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Credits

40

Module code

PI51027

  • What are the various forms of materialism and realism that can be found in philosophy today?
  • What is the relationship of postmodernism to these new forms of materialisms and realisms?
  • What are the metaphysical, epistemological and political consequences of these various forms of materialism and realism?
  • How do the various forms of materialism – such as mechanical, historical, dialectical, speculative, textual, neurological, corporeal, cosmo-physical – relate to one another?

Taking aim at ‘postmodernism’ and ‘hermeneutics’, new forms of materialism and realism have emerged in recent years to critique the emphasis on reality as something constructed and interpreted (antirealism). While acknowledging the value of the criticisms put forward by ‘postmodernism’ of traditional, dogmatic realism, a number of contemporary philosophers insist that the insights of ‘postmodernism’ have reached a dead end. The course will explore these claims and the recent attempts to revive notions of ‘materiality’ and ‘reality’. 

  • To introduce students to some of the prominent emerging theories associated with new materialisms and realisms; 
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of the relevant topic and the various forms of materialism (mechanical, historical, dialectical, speculative, textual, neurological, corporeal, cosmo-physical);
  • To acquire detailed knowledge of debates in contemporary philosophy, that is, the period covering the emergence of new materialisms and realisms over the last decade; 
  • 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 selected within the field of contemporary philosophy and in relation to the module's main topic.

Assessment

C32

2 x Essay (3,000 words) (50% of overall mark each

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding.

  • To provide knowledge and understanding of how a number of philosophers have reacted to recent discoveries in nature, technology and science
  • To introduce students to the key concepts used in thinking about various kinds of materialisms and realisms. 

Subject-specific practical and intellectual skills and attributes.

  • Students will gain experience of testing arguments in both concrete situations and more abstract situations
  • Appreciation of the importance of interdisciplinary work when dealing with contemporary philosophy (especially biology)

Transferable, employability and enterprise skills and attributes.

Development of the necessary skills to engage with unfamiliar material and applying these to new contemporary contexts.

Enhancement of research skills (in writing coursework) and speaking skills (through speaking in tutorials).

Aims

  • To introduce students to some of the prominent emerging theories associated with new materialisms and realisms;
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of the relevant topic and the various forms of materialism (mechanical, historical, dialectical, speculative, textual, neurological, corporeal, cosmo-physical);
  • To acquire detailed knowledge of debates in contemporary philosophy, that is, the period covering the emergence of new materialisms and realisms over the last decade;
  • 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 selected within the field of contemporary philosophy and in relation to the module's main topic.

Convenor

Dr Ois Keohane

Teaching

The module consists of 11 lecture seminars and 11 tutorials. These two ways of teaching complement each other. The lecture seminars are the key medium for the delivery of the course’s philosophical content. Tutorials are more participatory.