Honors | Ideas & Experience - Modern
H212 | 0006 | Cluver


In this course we shall engage with texts and ideas that have
profoundly affected Western concepts of the human condition and the
nature of the universe during the past 250 years.  We shall begin by
reviewing Jean-Jacques Rousseau's"Discourse on the Origin of
Inequality" and examine how some of its central ideas are further
developed in Friedrich Schiller's "On Naive and Sentimental Poetry"
and reflected in Romantic poetry.  We shall then look at Max Weber's
construction of the roots of capitalism in his Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism.  Major revolutions in 19th-century thought
will be considered via a study of Karl Marx's humanism, biological and
social Darwinism, Friedrich Nietzsche's "revaluation of all values"
(On the Genealogy of Morals), and aspects of Freudian psychoanalysis
via Freud's late Civilization and Its Discontents.  Edward Said's
Orientalism will offer a perspective on issues of nationalism,
imperialism, and racism, while portions of Simone de Beauvoir's The
Second Sex will represent influential views on the position of women
in the Western world.  Thomas Kuhn's The Nature of Scientific
Revolutions introduces a controversial theory of shifting paradigms in
scientific studies, and Steven Levy's Artifical Life gives a "report
from the frontier where computers meet biology."  Twice we shall look
at paintings that can be seen as reflecting,in a non-verbal medium,
some of the intellectual and spiritual issues studied in the course.
Samuel Beckett's play Endgame finally leaves us with the unsettling
question whether we live in an absurd universe.

Students will write three four page papers and a six page paper.  For
every session, students will also be asked to submit in writing
questions concerning the assigned readings that they would like us
raise in class discussion.  Beginning in October, students will lead
the Thursday discussions, with one or two classmates.