Philosophisch-Sprachpraktische Übung:
Can we deceive ourselves?

Sommersemester 2012
Universität Bamberg
Zeit: Mi 14 c.t.
Raum: U2 / 026

The Idea of this Course

Being able to speak, read and write in English is pretty useful. Nowadays many major discussions, not only in philosophy, are based in the Anglo-Saxon world. One might say that you will not have studied any subject well, if you have not read several texts in English. So why not dedicate a whole seminar to this? The idea is that we work on a particular discourse - the question of self-deception - in order to practice our reading, writing and conversational skills. For this purpose we will resort to a slower pace (yes, that means: we will not read as much as in other seminars) and to writing several little written assignments throughout the course. Everybody is welcome to try - I don't expect experts, but the eagerness to improve oneself.

The Problem

The question of self-deception is indeed a puzzling one. If I deceive a person, the whole point is that I know something that the deceived person does not. So how can it be that we seem to be capable of deceiving ourselves quite effectively? Doesn't that mean that we know and don't know something at the same time? The texts we will be reading are trying to disentangle this paradox.

How We Are Going to Proceed

The course will be based on Brian P. McLaughlin & Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (Eds.). Perspectives on Self-Deception. University of California Press 1988. We will read one article in two weeks. In the first of the two sessions we will mainly deal with language problems, read and sum up the text together and do some exercises. The second session is then supposed to be a genuinely philosophical discussion.

The course counts as a regular Pro- or Hauptseminar. For a certificate you will be required to write an Essay in English.

Handout 1