Honors | Ideas & Experience II (HON)
H212 | 26150 | Richard Burke
We will examine the concepts of justice, fairness, equality and the
search for the "good life." We will begin with Rousseau's Discourse
on Inequality and Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents as
attempts to demonstrate how the growth of civilization corrupts
natural happiness and freedom. We will continue with the Communist
Manifesto by Marx and Engels and Hard Times by Charles Dickens as
examinations of conditions that create artificial inequalities of
wealth, power, and social privilege.
The second segment of the seminar will concentrate on the various
roles of individuals in society. In this segment we will consider
"heroes, dreamers and survivors" as represented in Ibsen's Enemy of
the People, Miller's Death of a Salesman, Brecht's Mother Courage and
The Good Person of Szechwan, and Bolt's A Man for All Seasons.
In the third segment of the seminar we will study questions of race,
gender and social class. Our readings will be Shaw's Major Barbara,
and Pygmalion, Ibsen's A Doll's House, and Ralph Ellison's Invisible
In the final segment of the seminar we will consider writers who seem
to be asking "do these questions of fairness, justice and the good
life have any meaning?" In this final segment we will read The Death
of Ivan Ilych, The Plague, and Waiting for Godot.
Throughout the semester we will be considering questions such as:
How do we form societies that encourage a sense of community?
How do human beings fulfill their responsibilities to themselves and
to others? Must there be social "winners" and "losers"? Are we asking
the "right" questions?