Christoph Cox, professor of philosophy, received his B.A. in Modern Culture & Media from Brown University and a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Professor Cox teaches and writes on 19th- and 20th-century European philosophy and cultural theory.
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.
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.
What is ultimately or fundamentally real? What is the nature of being? Is reality ultimately physical or nonphysical? 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 ontological theories 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."
This course will take sound and the sonic arts as both an object of inquiry and a provocation for thought. Reading texts by philosophers and cultural theorists, and examining work by composers, sound artists, writers, and filmmakers, we will investigate the ontology of sound and music, the nature of listening, technologies of audio recording and dissemination, time and space in the sonic arts, synaesthesia, and other issues. Each class will involve both discussions of theoretical texts and analysis of sonic art works. Readings by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Russolo, Cage, Cutler, Kittler, Dolar, Serres, Barthes, McCaffery, Deleuze, Goodman, O'Callaghan, and others. Sounds by Lucier, Amacher, Young, Kubisch, Marclay, Fowler, Winderen, De Boer, Kubick & Walsh, Hecker, and others.
Immanuel Kant revolutionized philosophy by arguing that human knowledge does not grasp the world as it really is, but only the world as it corresponds to categories and forms imposed on it by the human mind. Kant's successors pushed this idea further, moving toward the view that absolute reality is essentially ideal, mental, or spiritual. In this course, we will begin with an examination of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, followed by a study of key texts by J.G. Fichte, F.W.J. Schelling, and G.W.F. Hegel. The focus will be on epistemological and metaphysical issues, though we will touch upon moral and aesthetic issues as well.
Professor of Philosophy
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