Professor of Philosophy
He is the author of Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (University of California Press, 1999) and co-editor of Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004). Cox is editor-at-large for Cabinet magazine, writes regularly for Artforum and The Wire, and has published philosophical essays in the Journal of the History of Philosophy, the Journal of Visual Culture, Organised Sound, International Studies in Philosophy, The Review of Metaphysics, and elsewhere.
Cox has curated exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Kitchen, New Langton Arts, and G Fine Art Gallery. Cox has written catalog essays for exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, Mass MoCA, the South London Gallery, Berlin's Akademie der Künste, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Oslo Kunstforening, and other venues.
He is currently at work on two books: a monograph on sound art, experimental music, and metaphysics; and an edited volume on aesthetics and the new realist and materialist philosophies.
What is ultimately or fundamentally real? What is the nature of being? Is reality essentially physical, nonphysical, or both? Is it one or many, visible or invisible, discrete or diffuse, eternal or temporal? Philosophers have offered the wildest and most varied answers to these questions. Today, metaphysical debates continue to rage within philosophy, cultural theory, and social theory. In this course, we will survey a range of metaphysical theories, from ancient Greek, Indian, and Chinese philosophers up through the most recent debates in European and Anglo-American philosophy. Readings from Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, the Buddha, Nagarjuna, Lao Tsu, Samkara, Leibniz, Spinoza, Berkeley, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Bergson, Whitehead, Harman, and others. The readings will be very difficult but also very rewarding. As Spinoza said: "Everything excellent is as difficult as it is rare."
From the 1960s through the 1990s, French philosophy was dominated by the "post-structuralist" philosophers Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, and Luce Irigaray. Over the past fifteen years, a new group of French philosophers has come to the fore, philosophers who often challenge post-structuralist conceptions of truth, reality, science, language, and philosophy itself. Some of these philosophers - for example, Alain Badiou, Francois Laruelle, and Gilbert Simondon - are from an older generation but have only recently become influential and widely known. Others - such as Quentin Meillassoux and Catherine Malabou - are from a younger generation. All of them are on the cutting-edge of French philosophy today. This course will examine the work of Badiou, Laruelle, Simondon, Meillassoux, and Malabou, focusing on their work in ontology and metaphysics. These texts are very challenging. Previous work in philosophy is strongly recommended.
Philosophy today is generally conceived and practiced as a purely theoretical discipline dedicated to answering conceptual questions and solving intellectual problems. Yet philosophy began as a practical discipline dedicated to helping human beings live their lives in the fullest and best way possible. In this course, we will read and discuss the work of various philosophers-ancient, modern, and postmodern-for whom philosophy is a practical tool for living. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Epictetus, the Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Shankara, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Sartre, Debord, and Deleuze.
This course will examine the ways that 20th-century philosophers and theorists have approached the art of their time, and the ways that modern and contemporary art illuminate and ground philosophical thought. Via writings by philosophers, theorists, critics, and artists, we will traverse a selected history of 20th-century art guided by a selected history of 20th-century philosophy and art theory. The course will survey artistic modalities such as modernism, postmodernism, conceptualism, minimalism, and relational aesthetics, and will examine critical approaches such as formalism, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, and deconstruction.
Is there such a thing as "objective" or "absolute" truth? Or is everything "relative" - to a particular individual, culture, language, or conceptual scheme? What is truth, anyway? In this course, we will examine the nature of truth, knowledge, and value and consider a range of challenges to the idea of "objective" or "absolute" truth. We will begin by considering solipsism, skepticism, and subjective relativism and then spend most of the semester discussing various forms of relativism (conceptual, epistemic, ethical, cultural, aesthetic, etc.). Drawing upon texts from early Greek philosophy through contemporary Anglo-American and European philosophy, we will try to sort out strong from weak arguments for various versions of objectivism and relativism.
This course will explore a range of experimental musical practices and various approaches to thinking theoretically and critically about them. We will traverse musical areas such as minimalism, indeterminacy, musique concrte, free improvisation, turntablism, and electronica, and examine these via philosophy, critical theory, film/video, and statements by composers and producers. Investigating different modes of listening to and talking about contemporary music, we will ask such questions as: What is the nature of music in relationship to silence and noise? What are the effects of recording and sampling on contemporary musical life? Can music have a political or critical function? Are the distinctions between "classical" and "popular," "high art" and "mass art" still relevant today? There will be an evening listening session schedule for this course.