HUMANITIES 109 / PHILOSOPHY 109

PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE 

IN SOCIAL CONTEXT

 

SPRING 2003

Tu Th  12:50-2:10/ Harriman 116

 

Hugh J. Silverman (Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature)

Office: Harriman Hall 203; Office Phone 632-7592

Office Hours: Tuesdays 2:30-4:00 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 Shakespeare), the Modern Age (Nietzsche, Freud, Kafka), and the advent of the Postmodern (Sartre 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 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

 

Shakespeare

 

KING LEAR

 

Pelican

 

Nietzsche

 

THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA

 

Penguin

 

Freud

 

CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS

 

Norton 

 

Kafka

 

THE TRIAL

 

Schocken

 

Sartre

 

NO EXIT and three other plays

 

Vintage

 

Derrida

 

ACTS OF RELIGION

 

Routledge

 

Recommended:

Kristeva

 

STRANGERS TO OURSELVES

 

Columbia

 


 

HUM 109/PHI 109:

PHILOSOPHY AND LITERATURE IN SOCIAL CONTEXT

 SPRING SEMESTER 2003

Prof. Hugh J. Silverman


  SCHEDULE

DATE TOPIC READING
January 23
Introduction  

(1) CLASSICAL THOUGHT AND CULTURE

January 28 & 30                   

Aeschylus: The Consequences of Crime and Punishment The Oresteia

Feb. 4 & 6                             

 

Plato: Justice and the Ideals of a Society Republic
Feb. 11 & 13 Plato: Justice and the Ideals of a Society Republic
Feb 18 & 20 

Sophocles: Law, Responsibility, and Individual Choice

Oedipus the King & Antigone

(2) MEDIEVAL - RENAISSANCE LIFE AND THOUGHT

   
Feb 25 & 27 

Dante: Justice and Punishment in this life and the next

Divine Comedy (The Inferno)

Mar 4 & 6 

{mid-term exam distributed}

Dante: Justice and Punishment in this life and the next

Divine Comedy (The Inferno)

Mar 11

{mid-term exam due}

& 13 

Machiavelli: How to Rule a State (and not have any friends!)

The Prince
Mar 18 & 20    SPRING RECESS  
Mar 25 & 27 Shakespeare: How (not) to Rule a State (and still think that love counts more than anything!)                                                King Lear

(3) THE MEANING OF MODERN SOCIETY                                  

April 1 & 3   Nietzsche: Self-Overcoming vs Herd Moralities Thus Spoke Zarathustra
April 8 & 10 { paper due} 

Freud: The Individual=s Internalization of Social Expectations

                                                                           

 

Civilization and its Discontents
April 15 & 22

Kafka: Oppressions of Modern Society

and Human Consciousness               

The Trial
(4) RESPONDING TO MODERN TIMES AND THE ADVENT OF THE POSTMODERN
April 24 & 29 

Sartre: Social Responsibility vs Individual Choice                                                   

The Flies
May 1 & 6  

 Derrida: Friendship and the Forces of Law

Force of Law
May 8  Conclusions  and Review  
Thursday, May 15th 2:00 - 4:30 p.m.

Final Examination

 
       

 

                       

  LAST UPDATED 11-Mar-2003

 

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