Admission to this course is restricted to:
first-year students in BA Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives
international pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.
This course offers an introduction to some of the most canonical views of culture developed in the Western philosophical tradition. Special attention goes out to conceptions of culture as a problem and the possibility of cultural critique. The course starts with classical conceptions of culture as society and Bildung before and during the Enlightenment (Rousseau, Kant). Positivism (Comte) is discussed, which is often associated primarily with philosophy of science but originates in an encompassing view on culture. Nietzsche and Freud problematize the relation between culture and instinct and show how culture consists in different forms of repression. This leads us to consider conceptions of culture in which reason is no longer the dominant factor: the relation between culture and embodiment (Merleau-Ponty); diagnoses of culturele crisis in science and technology (Arendt, Husserl, Heidegger); culture as symptom of alienation and ideology (Marx); the ‘culture industry’ and mass culture (Adorno, Marcuse), and culture as mechanism of exclusion (Foucault). This course does not focus on culture in the narrower senses of art and aesthetics, nor on normative discussions about cultural differences and cultural relativism, but does aim to prepare students for such debates. In that light, the course ends with a discussion of multiculturalism (Taylor).
This course aims to familiarize students with some of the most canonical views of culture developed in the Western philosophical tradition. This course does not focus on culture in the narrower senses of art and aesthetics, nor on normative discussions about cultural differences and cultural relativism, but does aim to prepare students for such debates.
Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:
some of the most canonical views of culture developed in the Western philosophical tradition;
important ways in which culture has been conceived as a problem (repression, crisis, alienation, exclusion) and how culture can be criticized.
Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:
reconstruct, interpret, compare and critically evaluate different conceptions of culture;
propose and defend both in writing and orally, basic arguments pertaining to any section of the course.
Mode of instruction
Class attendance is required.
Mid-term take home examination with essay questions
Final take home examination with essay questions
The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the two subtests:
Mid-term exam: 50%
Final exam: 50%
The resit consists of a take home examination with essay questions covering all course content. No separate resits will be offered for subtests. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.
Inspection and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.
All texts will be made available on Brightspace at the beginning of the semester, alongside the reading schedule.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website
Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.
Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs