PHIL 4260.001
Fall 2003
MWF 1:25-2:23 P114

Professor: Dr. Valerie E. Broin
Office: L185
Office Phone: 667-3527 or 667-3361
Office Hours:

Course Description:

This course will allow students to become acquainted with a variety of “schools” of philosophical thought in the western tradition of the 20th century. We will read representative articles from American Pragmatism, Existentialism, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Deconstruction, Feminist Theory, and the Frankfurt School (or Critical Theory). The overall objective for the course is to examine the various strands of thought concerning human existence and society, with an eye for tracing alternative notions of “truth” that each thinker presents.

Required Texts:

Twentieth-Century Philosophy, 3rd Edition, eds. Forrest E. Baird and Walter Kaufmann (TCP)
Being Singular Plural, Jean-Luc Nancy
Reader (available in the Philosophy Office L195)

Course Requirements:

Essays: There will be two comparative critical analyses due. Each analysis will be 9-10 pages long (typed, double-spaced). Each essay will allow course participants to explain, compare, and assess the philosophical positions of at least two philosophers in our assigned readings. The critical analyses should address the issues and concerns discussed in class.
30% each

Response papers: A response paper (approximately 2 pages long) will be due for each of the different thinkers we read (so, eight total). These papers will be due at the beginning of the last class during which we examine the particular thinker (see syllabus). The point of these papers is to take a moment to reflect upon and assess the significance of each thinker’s position.
In these assignments, identify a particular issue or problem that you discover in our assigned readings and/or in class discussions. Delve into that problem, showing why the issue is important, what is at stake in addressing it, and how it might be addressed. Your focus could be on a particular aspect that seems important to you yet which you would like to raise in order to have class discussion fill out the significance and complexities of the problem you raised. It should be clear that we will share these papers with others in the class. The purpose of these assignments is to encourage you to delve into the difficulties of our texts, to explore and take risks in order to foster greater understanding, to spark discussion in order to bring the philosophical points alive, and to keep your professor from pontificating endlessly. 30%

Attendance and participation: 10%

Note: All assignments must be turned in on the date identified in the syllabus. Late papers carry a grade reduction to be determined by your professor. You have only a week to make up late essays. It is your responsibility to keep abreast of all assignments. If you miss a class, please get noted from a fellow student first and then feel free to ask me questions over missed material. Attendance is a crucial aspect of this course: notify me immediately if there are any problems here. Low attendance (5 absences or more) can carry a significant course grade reduction.

Plagiarism: In a word, don’t. I can only grade work that is your own. If you use any one else’s text without attributing it to him or her, there are serious penalties, the greatest of which is expulsion from the university.


Week 0
9-5 Introduction

Week 1
9/8-10 W.E.B.Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks excerpt (TCP, 41)
9/12 Pragmatism
Dewey, The Quest for Certainty excerpt (TCP, 22)

Week 2
9/15-17 continue Dewey
9/19 Response over Dewey due

Week 3 Existentialism
9/22-26 Sartre, Being and Nothingness excerpt (TCP, 206)

Week 4
9/29 Response over Sartre due
10/1-3 Beauvoir, The Second Sex excerpt (TCP, 239)

Week 5
10/6 Response over Beauvoir due
10/8-10 Phenomenology
Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology” (Reader)

Week 6
10/13 School Holiday
10/15 continue Heidegger
10/17 Response over Heidegger due

Week 7
10/20-24 Hermeneutics
Gadamer, Truth and Method excerpt (TCP, 178)

Week 8
10/27 PAPER #1 DUE
10/29-31 Deconstruction
Foucault, “Lecture Two” (Reader)

Week 9
11/3 continue Foucault
11/5-7 “Truth and Power,” (TCP, 341)
11/7 Response over Foucault due

Week 10
11/10-14 Feminist Theory
Sawicki, “Feminism, Foucault and ‘Subjects’ of Power and Freedom” (Reader)
11/14 Response over Sawicki due

Week 11 The Frankfurt School (Critical Theory)
11/17-21 Habermas “The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity” (TCP, 409)

Week 12
11/24 Response over Habermas due
11/26 Nancy, Being Singular Plural pp. 1-10
11/28 Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 13
12/1 continue Nancy, pp. 10-41
12/3 pp. 41-73
12/5 pp. 73-99

Week 14
12/8 Response over Nancy due

PAPER #2 DUE Wednesday, Dec. 17, noon in L 185