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FALL 2015

Philosophy of Culture

October 3rd - October 31st

Saturdays, Mondays, and Wednesdays


Session One: 4:30pm - 6:30pm

Session Two: 7pm - 9pm


Beginning with Descartes, we will trace the emergence of the autonomous, rational individual, as it prefigures the constitution of the modern subject. How is this subject engaged politically and socially in the Western philosophical tradition? By looking at Kant's formalism and Hegel's phenomenology, we will assess the competing frameworks for making sense of modernity. In the 20th century, we follow the increasing rationalisation of society, as it became more difficult to ask philosophical questions. How did critical theorists respond to this difficulty? We look at Adorno and Foucault as offering diagnoses of the rationalisation of society, before delving into particular topics: literature and poetry, psychoanalysis, sociology, and religion.


As we trace the development of critical theory in the 20th century out of modern philosophy, we will ask how the particularity/universality of critical theory can be understood against the backdrop of colonialism and neoliberalism in the Arab world. Ought we discard certain critical tools considering their imperial origin? Can we remould other critical tools to serve our own purpose? What is our relationship, ultimately, to modern philosophy? While each of the topics relates to a wide array of historical and intellectual avenues of inquiry, the goal of each session is to begin challenging the received conception of the topic at hand, and to subsequently re-orient students' perspective with a view to the contingency of what is received. The end of the seminar will facilitate the process by which students complete a sustained research proposal.


Tuition: 260 JDs. Scholarships available.



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