PHI 312: CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN THOUGHT—DERRIDA UN-LIMITED

Prof. Hugh J. Silverman

SPRING SEMESTER 2006

MON & WED 5:20-6:40 p.m.

FOCUS: Contemporary European thought as read through the writings and legacy of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004). Selected texts by Derrida in which he takes up the thought of recent European philosophers and writers including Husserl, Heidegger, de Saussure, Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Lacan, Levinas, Kristeva, and Nancy will constitute the focus of the course.. We will also consider interviews, autobiographical writings, and films in which Derrida comments upon his twentieth century philosophical predecessors and contemporaries.

PURPOSE: Designed as an introduction to Contemporary European Philosophy and to continental philosophy as a way of doing philosophy, this course will focus on the writings of Jacques Derrida -- and specifically those concerned with major European philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries.

PREREQUISITES: Junior or Senior standing; at least two courses in Philosophy, Humanities, Comparative Literature, English, Languages, Art, or Music.

REQUIREMENTS: Each student will be expected to attend class regularly.  There will be a mid-term exam and a final exam. 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).  Also each student is to write one paper (about 5-7 pages in length). The paper should focus on how Derrida reads a particular philosopher, what strategies he uses to provide that reading, and in what way it is a "deconstruction" of the texts in question. The paper could also indicate how one might further this particular reading of the philosopher in question by appealing to comments that Derrida makes elsewhere.

GRADING: 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.