HUMS 480, The Mortality of the Soul: From Aristotle to Heidegger
This course explores fundamental philosophical questions of the relation between matter and form, life and spirit, necessity and freedom, by proceeding from Aristotle’s analysis of the soul in De Anima and his notion of practical agency in the Nicomachean Ethics. We study Aristotle in conjunction with seminal works by contemporary neo-Aristotelian philosophers (Korsgaard, Nussbaum, Brague, and McDowell). We in turn pursue the implications of Aristotle’s notion of life by engaging with contemporary philosophical discussions of death that take their point of departure in Epicurus (Nagel, Williams, Scheffler). We conclude by analyzing Heidegger’s notion of constitutive mortality, in order to make explicit what is implicit in the form of the soul in Aristotle.
Professor Martin Hägglund
Born and raised in Sweden, Martin Hägglund specializes in post-Kantian philosophy, critical theory, and modernist literature—ranging across French, German, English, and Scandinavian languages. At Yale he has recently taught courses on Heidegger’s Being and Time, the mortality of the soul from Aristotle to John McDowell, and the temporality of narrative from Conrad to Beckett. Professor Hägglund is the author of four highly acclaimed books, which engage with philosophers of time (from Kant to Husserl and Derrida), theorists of desire (from Augustine to Freud and Lacan), modern writers (Proust, Woolf, Nabokov), and the legacy of German idealism (from Hegel to Marx and beyond). His most recent book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom, won the René Wellek Prize.
His work is the subject of a special issue of CR: The New Centennial Review, Living On: Of Martin Hägglund, a symposium in Los Angeles Review of Books, and a special issue of The Philosopher, the longest-running public philosophy journal in the UK. His books have also been the subject of conferences and colloquia at Harvard, Yale, NYU, Cornell, and Oxford. He has received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He was elected to the Harvard Society of Fellows in 2009, awarded The Schück Prize by the Swedish Academy in 2014, and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018.