Aim and Philosophical Orientation
Philosophy is that science which seeks the answers to big questions like ‘Does man have free will?’, ‘Does man have a soul?’, ‘Is there a God?’ or ‘Are there rights and duties independent of what anyone believes, wants, or commands?’ or also ‘What does quantum mechanics show us about the nature of matter?’ The aim and the mission of the IAP is the promotion of philosophy, and not just of the historiography of philosophy, i.e. the investigation which philosopher wrote what when. In philosophy thus understood arguing with clarity and rigour, weighing reasons, and problem sovling are trained like in no other discipline. These ‘transferable skills’ are also outside of philosophical research of value and use.
The main research areas of the IAP are metaphysics, analytic philosophy of religion, social philosophy in the tradition of the Austrian School of economics, and philosophy of psychology. The scope of metaphysics is understood as today in anglophone philosopphy and in German philosophy of the 17th and 18th century. It includes the topics ontology, modality, causality, free will. For an overview look into an anthology of metaphysics and at the category „metaphysics“ in the Categorization Project in PhilPapers.org. The analytic philosophy of Religion investigates questions about God and religion by means of philosophy. In contrast to theology, it does not use revelation as a source of knowledge. In the philosophy of psychology the IAP pursues the line of the personalist and existential psychology (Viktor Frankl, Rudolf Allers, Ludwig Binswanger) and contributes to the further development of logotherapy.
The IAP was founded 1986 in the tradition of realist phenomenology, as it was practised by Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), Alexander Pfänder (1870-1941), Max Scheler (1874-1928), Adolf Reinach (1883-1917), Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977) and Roman Ingarden (1893-1970). The IAP also encourages the study of other, lesser known German realist philosophers of earlier centuries, like Christoph Scheibler (1589-1653), Christian August Crusius (1715-1775), Martin Knutzen (1713-1751), Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841), Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848), I. H. Fichte (1796-1879), Hermann Ulrici (1806-1884). Thanks to the digitalization, their texts are easily accessible today. For this purpose we have created database
of such texts.
‘Realism’ here means the assumption that there are things that are independent from our mind and whose investigation is possible and worthwhile. In this sense the IAP follows the call ‘things in themselves!’, which the realists held against the nominalists and which Edmund Husserl adopted. That seems obvious, but there have been many philosophical movements which turned away from the task of answering philosophical questions and concerned themselves with other things: historiography of philosophy, history, cultural studies, social science, human science, texts, hermeneutics, language, concepts, semantics, consciousness, sense data, transcendentals, or categories of thought, and also esoteric, unclear style as it arose in German idealism. Many authors turned especially away from metaphyscis (e.g. the questions ‘Does man have a soul?’, ‘Are there objective duties?’, or ‘Is there a God?’), claiming that they are meaningless or unanswerable. The IAP resists such attempts to limit research and asking questions.
‘Phenomenology’ here means only the thesis, which is opposed to empiricism and positivism, that we can obtain knowledge about the world not only through our bodily sense organs. ‘Phenomenology’ means that we can obtain knowledge through phenomena, i.e. through contents of thought in which something appears to us to be such-and-such. Moral truths and truths about what is possible, for example, we come to know in different ways.
By its motto, ‘Love
the truth, the whole truth, and the truth about everything’ (‘Diligere veritatem omnem et in omnibus’), the IAP is committed to scientific (in the wide sense of the Latin ‘scientia’, which includes the humanities) search for truth and to search for the right methods to find the truth, in contrast to all movements that depreciate reason, the weighing of evidence, and clear and rigorous arguing and writing, or that give up the search for truth. In particular the postmodernists, who are much more influential than most people can imagine, are claiming that there is no truth, that truth is just a power play, that there is no reality, etc. The IAP criticises this anti-rational rhetoric.
The IAP has an adversatorial approach to teaching and research, as it was developed in the European university in the form of the disputatio, for oral discourse as well as for texts. In the disputatio not only could everyone defend his position, but the proponent of a position was confronted with an opponent who was given the task to defend the contrary position. This was done although it was assumed that truth exists. It was recognised that the adversatorial approach helps to find the truth and to find reasons. This is also the reason why in court the defendant has a lawyer whose task it is to defend the thesis that the defendant is innocent. It is also the reason why in Europe freedom of opinion developed. In German idealism in the 19th century this adversatorial approach to philosophy was abandoned, these authors no longer systematically investigated the alternative positions.
The IAP has no fixed philosophical position, but it takes into account the following views: non-reductive moral realism, material value-ethics (natural law), the existence of human souls, theism (i.e. the existence of a creator God), human free will. The IAP is not connected to any church or confession, but it is open for the Christian revelation. The IAP is committed to the principle that the students are free in which views they hold and defend and that marks depend only on the quality of their arguments.
The IAP is a private university in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Its teaching languages are German, English, and Spanish. It was founded 1986 in Liechtenstein. 2008 until 2012 there was no teaching in Liechtenstein, in 2013 the IAP re-launched its doctoral program. The doctoral study can be pursued partly as distance learning.
The IAP is a member of the International Lake Constance University, which has as members 30 universities and schools in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Liechtenstein. Students and professors of the member institutions may use libraries, refectories, courses, etc. of the other member universities, e.g. the University of Constance and the University of Zurich.
The IAP is governed by these organs: the Stiftungsrat, the Hochschulrat (advisory board which supervises the quality of teaching of research), and each campus has a Director. Complaints are to be directed to the campus director (email dvwachter AT iap.li) and, if necessary, to the Hochschulrat (email hochschulrat AT iap.li).
For teaching the IAP uses the ‘tutorial system’, which is used at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Lectures, seminars, and disputations (i.e. debates with assigned positions) are being offered additionally. Lectures are often an inefficient method of teaching, their disadvantage is that the student cannot regulate the velocity and that there is little interaction with the teacher. Therefore they are suited as a supplement to tutorials, especially in the form of the argumentative lecture, in which the lecturer not only presents various views but defends his view with arguments and invites the objections of the audience. Seminars serve the interaction between the participants. In the tutorial system the professor gives the student for each tutorial the task to read certain texts and to write an essay which answers a certain philosophical question. The essay is discussed in the tutoral. Tutorials last one hour and take place at intervals of one to four weeks. In the meantime the professor answers questions by email or orally. Learning through tutorials has these advantages:
- Active learning instead of mere listening.
- Thorough training in writing essays.
- The task of the professor is not merely to present content, but to stimulate, correct, challenge, and motivate the student.
- The student is not confined to a set of the lectures that is scheduled for that semester, but can study at any time any topic which is within the competency of the professors.
- Content, velocity, level, and demands are fully adapted to the needs and abilities of the student.
While in the past studies were measured in hours per week per semester, the new ‘European Credit Transfer System’ (ECTS) allows an adequate calculation of the work in tutorials, because it is measured in estimated working hours of the student. One ECTS point corresponds to 30 working hours of a normal student. For an essay of 3.000 words, designed to be completed within 14 days, three ECTS points are being awarded.