The point of departure is the suspicion that the notion of understanding is unjustly neglected by mainstream epistemology (past and present) whose central focus is knowledge. We’ll begin by considering why this might be so. Then we will move on to consider just how understanding is conceived by various recent philosophers. Is it propositional? Is it directed at the same items as knowledge? Is it similar to know-how? Is it reducible to either propositional knowledge or know-how? Readings are drawn from both analytic philosophy, all of which is quite recent.
The course has two main goals: 1) acquiring the skills needed to grasp and assess the texts and to formulate one’s own arguments and views on the topic and 2) acquiring a deeper knowledge and understanding of the issues, positions and arguments. By the end of the course, students will have learned a good deal about the concepts of knowledge, know-how, understanding as they occur in recent analytic philosophy.
Students are required to attend classes and to do the assigned reading prior to class. They are strongly encouraged to participate in discussion. Required: For all students except auditors: one 10-minute in-class oral response to the material (not a summary of the reading but focusing on and responding to a single point) and one 2000 word term paper. For 2-year Philosophy MAs, end-of-year core essay exam. Most important criteria in grading term papers: clarity, originality, depth and coherence. Participation counts for 10%.