Folklore | Classics in Comparative Epistemology
F740 | 22219 | Schrempp


"Classics," whether ancient or modern, are writings that have taken
on a status of perenniality--sometimes to the extent that one cannot
envision a particular topic apart from its "classic statement."  The
works considered in this course have all served as linchpins in
cross-cultural imagination and epistemological theorizing.  Our
consideration of them will be from three angles:  First, we will
strive to understand the basic arguments (an endeavor with many
surprises since such works are more often cited or alluded to than
read).  Second, the recent and contemporary consequences of such
works for folkloristics will be explored, including processes of
tradition and innovation in derivative theorizing (the instructor's
contribution will be especially directed toward this concern).
Thirdly, we will attempt to distinguish factors that contribute to a
work's achieving classic status, and the role (positive or negative)
of such status in shaping disciplines and research strategies.
This course will be based on careful reading and critical
discussion.  A fair amount of oral presentation is expected;
writing will be limited to short analytical essays.

The following is a sampling of topics and readings:

On Logic and Cognition:

- Aristotle:  Categories and Metaphysics Book G (the "law
of           contradiction")
- Lucien Levy-Bruhl, Notebooks on Primitive Mentality
- Marcel Mauss, The Gift
- Eleanor Rosch, Cognition and Categorization

On Magical Thought:

- David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
- James Frazer, The Golden Bough (excerpts)
- Claude Levi-Strauss, "The Science of the Concrete"

On Language and Cultural Relativism:

- Benjamin Lee Whorf, Language, Thought, and Reality
- Edward Sapir, "Culture, Genuine and Spurious"
- Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in Linguistics

On Science and The Scientific Revolution:

- Lucretius, On the Nature of the Universe
- Galileo, "Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina"
- C.P. Snow, "The Two Cultures"
- Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution