PHIL 320
Topics in Critical Theory: Genealogy and Critique
Last Offered Fall 2021
Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is not offered in the current catalog

Class Details

What are the philosophical consequences of an inquiry into the ‘origins’ of our concepts, beliefs, and practices? If we are able to show that a current concept or belief has a contingent and dark origin, are we justified in questioning or abandoning it? Alternatively, if the origins of our present ways of thinking and acting are themselves laudatory, have we then vindicated the present? In this course I will select from a range of historical texts in Western philosophy that make use of fictional, semi-fictional or real genealogies in their arguments (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Nietzsche, and Foucault). We will explore recent debates concerning genealogy in both analytic and continental philosophy in an effort to answer the following questions: What are the aims of genealogy? Can genealogy provide us with a solid foundation for either legitimizing or criticizing contemporary beliefs and practices? If so, how? If not, why not? Are there other aims which genealogy might serve?
The Class: Format: tutorial; We may schedule at least one seminar meeting during the semester.
Limit: 10
Expected: 10
Class#: 1602
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on written work (six 5-6 page papers, and six 2-3 page commentaries on your partner's papers) as well as the quality and level of preparation and intellectual engagement in our weekly meetings.
Prerequisites: Demonstrated background in history of modern philosophy (PHIL 202), modern political theory, or critical and social theories.
Enrollment Preferences: Preference will be given to philosophy majors and prospective majors and students with demonstrated interest and background in critical or social theories.
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills Difference, Power, and Equity
WS Notes: Students will write six 5-6 page papers, and six 2-3 page commentaries on their partner's papers on alternative weeks. Papers and commentaries will receive significant oral feedback in our weekly 75 minute tutorial sessions.
DPE Notes: In this course we raise questions at the center of debates in critical theory, a form of theory oriented toward emancipation or, at the very least, toward resisting unnecessary constraints on freedom that result in intolerable conditions and suffering. Readings will be drawn from sources in feminist theory, critical race theory, and postcolonial theory as well as philosophy.
Attributes: PHIL Contemporary Value Theory Courses

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