Past Courses

Dr. Tauber retired from Boston University in May, 2011.

  • 2012, Cohn Institute, Tel Aviv University
    Reason and its Discontents
    “Reason and its Discontents” plays on the title of Freud’s pivotal book, Civilization and its Discontents (1930), in which the relationship of reason and the passions was poised as the crucial question concerning the future of humankind. Indeed, since the Enlightenment, how we think, and more specifically, the character and nature of rationality, has been central to philosophical discourse.  In this seminar we are concerned with how reason has been placed in contrast with the ‘passions’ as posed by the famous  confrontation between Hume and Kant. The seminar will outline the contrasting Humean-Kantian conceptions of agency (moral and epistemological) based on the rational-emotive axis, and then extend that debate to the formulations offered by Nietzsche and Freud.
  • Spring 2011, Tel Aviv University:
    Utopianism in our Era
    Given the centrality of human progress in Western social metaphysics, a consideration of utopianism offers insight into personal and political aspirations and moral tendencies of the Atlantic community. Two competing philosophical notions of personal identity – socialist and psychoanalytic – have framed utopian themes during the 19th and 20th centuries.  In each case, the prevailing concept of the ego embedded in their respective theories grounded the philosophical approach.  With the individual subordinated to the commune, utopian communities were built from commitments to the collective good. In the individualistic psychoanalytic formulation, each might find a perfected state through personal insight and emotional liberation. With the second orientation, competing Enlightenment and postmodern agendas begin in the same place, namely, the very possibility of self-exploration according to psychoanalytic precepts.  Freud allowed for an autonomous ego, whereas much of post-Freudian criticism has characterized the “de-centered subject” and the plausibility of a psychoanalytic-inspired reconfiguration of social repression.  Critical assessments of these perspectives will orient our examination of the utopian idea.
  • Spring 2010, Tel Aviv University and Haifa University:
    Philosophy of Psychoanalysis
    This seminar on Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis will examine the underlying philosophical themes and structure of his thought, which stretch between his positivist commitments to a science of the mind and a humanist’s understanding of self identity. Through a close reading of Freudian texts, we will emphasize four topics: 1) Freud’s success/failure of establishing psychic cause; 2) the structure and dynamics of the psyche; 3) the paradox of free will/determinism in the analytic setting, which leads to the moral structure of psychoanalysis, and 4) the character of the self as the subject of analysis.
  • Fall 2009:
    Metaphysics: Free Will & Determinism
    This course will be framed by a historical survey of the problem of free will and determinism, which will be followed with a contemporary analysis from both philosophical and neuro-physiological perspectives.  This latter analysis will emphasize the naturalism that pervades current thinking in philosophy of mind.
  • Fall 2008:
    Medical Ethics
    This course offers a broad survey of medical ethics.  We will begin with
    establishing the basic characteristics of health, disease, and illness, and
    then apply these categories to certain ethical issues in the clinical
    setting (both general and particular cases). Our goal is to guide the
    student in understanding the basic issues of contemporary debates in medical ethics within a philosophical framework.  This will require learning basic moral reasoning and some technical knowledge of the medical scenario.
    Ecology and Literature
    The genre of nature writing addresses environmental ethics, the metaphysics of nature, the epistemological relationship between nature and human experience, and the spiritual significance or meaning of nature.  In environmental literature, each of these categories combine philosophical interpretations and arguments with a poetic sensibility. We will examine how an ecological sensitivity has been transmitted in literature as part of a larger philosophical project of presenting “nature” as a special concern for contemporary societies.

Some Past Courses: