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The writings of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud continue to influence important debates in the humanities and social sciences. Marx’s historical materialism, Nietzsche’s post-metaphysical and naturalistic turn in ethics, and Freud’s emphasis on the unconscious determinants of human behavior all represent what has been referred to as the decentering of human consciousness in explanations of human history and existence. All three thinkers have had a profound influence on critical theories of the 20th century. In this tutorial, we will focus on questions concerning their methods of critique, and their respective diagnoses of modern culture and societies. All three attempt to explain particular sources of human suffering such as loss of meaning, the sense of alienation from self and others, constraints on free expression, and nihilistic world-weariness. The course texts may include several short selections from important historical influences such as Kant and Hegel as well as 20th century figures who have reacted to, revised, or responded to them in creative ways. Among the latter one could include Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Elizabeth Grosz and Peter Sloterdijk, to name only a few.
bi-weekly papers, oral commentaries, and tutorial discussions
100-level Philosophy course, PHIL 202, or permission of instructor
Philosophy majors or prospective majors and students with background and interest in critical theories
Students will write six tutorial papers on assigned topics or questions of 5- to 6-pages in length, one of which they will revise and submit at the end of the term. Students will receive written and oral feedback, concentrated particularly in the first half of the semester, to improve their ability to present clear and effective written arguments and interpretations.
PHIL History Courses