STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY

HUM 109 & PHI 109: PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT
FALL 2003 (Tu Th 3:50-5:10/ SBS N310)

Hugh J. Silverman (Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature)
Office: Harriman Hall 203; Office Phone 632-7592
Office Hours: Thursdays 1:30-3:15 p.m. and by appointment

This course is both an introduction to Philosophy and to the Humanities. Our task will be to understand how notions such as justice, law, society, community, rights, equality, citizenship, sovereignty, foreigners have come to establish themselves as commonplaces in contemporary social discourse? We will address the ways in which such issues have entered into the literature, philosophy, and cultures of western traditions. We shall explore how to think and read major theoretical and literary writings at key moments in western thought and culture. Emphasis will be placed on Ancient Greece (Aeschylus, Plato, and Sophocles), the late Medieval-Renaissance Period (Dante, Machiavelli, and More), the Modern Age (Rousseau, Nietzsche, Kafka), and the advent of the Postmodern (Sartre, Kristeva, and Derrida). By looking at how these social theoretical notions have been articulated at previous times, we shall achieve insight into how to think about and understand them today.

Each student will be expected to attend class regularly. Throughout the semester, there will be a total of four 10-15 minute quizzes at the beginning of class (only three will count but students must take all four in order to have the lowest of the four dropped). Each student is to write one paper (about 5-7 pages in length). The paper should compare social theories and their expressions from two different periods. It should show how the two philosophies respond to the intellectual, cultural, and socio-political contexts out of which they arise.

There will be a take-home mid-term and a final examination. The mid-term, the paper, and the final exam will each count 25%. The 3 quizzes will be 15%. The additional 10% will result from the quality (not quantity) of class participation and also attendance. Each student will be expected to read the material assigned for the indicated date and come prepared to discuss the texts in class.


READINGS

Aeschylus THE ORESTEIA Penguin

Plato REPUBLIC Hackett

Sophocles THE THREE THEBAN PLAYS Penguin

Dante THE INFERNO Penguin

Machiavelli THE PRINCE Penguin

More UTOPIA Penguin

Rousseau SECOND DISCOURSE & SOCIAL CONTRACT Penguin

Nietzsche THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA Viking

Kafka THE TRIAL Schocken

Sartre NO EXIT and three other plays Vintage

Kristeva STRANGERS TO OURSELVES Columbia

Derrida OF HOSPITALITY Stanford

Recommended:

Silverman PHILOSOPHY AND DESIRE Routledge


SYLLABUS

HUM 109/PHI 109: PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT

FALL SEMESTER 2003
Prof. Hugh J. Silverman

SCHEDULE


Sept 4 Introduction


(1) CLASSICAL THOUGHT AND CULTURE


Sept 9 & 11 Aeschylus: The Consequences of Crime and Punishment
The Oresteia

Sept 16 & 18* Plato: Justice and the Ideals of a Society
Republic


Sept 23 & 25 Plato: Justice and the Ideals of a Society
Republic


Sept 30 & Oct 2 Sophocles: Law, Responsibility, and Individual Choice
Oedipus the King, Antigone, Oedipus at Colonus

(2) MEDIEVAL - RENAISSANCE LIFE AND THOUGHT

Oct 7 & 9 Dante: Justice and Punishment in this life and the next
Divine Comedy (The Inferno)


{mid-term exam distributed}


Oct 14 & 16 Machiavelli: How to Rule a State (and not have any friends!)
{mid-term exam due} The Prince


Oct 21 & 23* More: What if an Ideal State Actually Existed Utopia

(3) THE MEANING OF MODERN SOCIETY


Oct 28 & 30 Rousseau: The State of Nature and the Contractarian State
Second Discourse
Social Contract

Nov. 4 & 6* Nietzsche: Self-Overcoming vs Living the Moralities of the Herd
Thus Spoke Zarathustra


Nov. 11 & 13 Kafka: Oppressions of Modern Society
and the Struggles of Conscience/Consciousness

The Trial


(4) RESPONDING TO MODERN TIMES AND THE ADVENT OF THE POSTMODERN


Nov. 18 & 20 Sartre: Social Responsibility vs Individual Choice No Exit & The Flies


Nov. 25 { paper due} Kristeva: Foreigners and Strangers
(Nov. 27 – Thanksgiving)
&

Dec. 2 & 4
Strangers to Ourselves

Dec.9 & 11 Derrida and the Politics of Hospitality
Of Hospitality


Final Examination

Thursday December 18th