Germanic Languages | German Culture II
G564 | 7910 | W. Rasch

G564: German Culture II					
Professor William Rasch
MW 2:30-3:45	

Topic: The German Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (20th-Century)

Purpose: In his Modernism as a Philosophical Problem, Robert Pippin
lists some of the prominent themes that have agitated philosophical
discourse for some 200 or more years now, and these will be among
the themes to be advanced and critiqued in the texts we read.  They
include: “a view of nature as to be mastered, not contemplated;
a ‘mathematizable’ and materialistic view of nature; a rejection of
final causes in explanation; compared with antiquity, a much more
realistic view of ends to be achieved by knowledge, ends such as
health, pleasure, freedom from pain, and not, say, ‘wisdom’; an
expectation of great social benefits from the free and unimpeded
pursuit of scientific knowledge, and a corresponding assumption that
the fundamental cause of human injustice was scarcity, that this
problem could be corrected; and a great belief in the progressive
and politically ever more enlightened course of human history” (p.
20).  These themes, often first developed in the 18th century,
continue until our day, but in the twentieth century they often took
on a decidedly darker hue as disappointment lent its colors to
hope.  The aim of the course is to give an overview of the 20th-
century German discussion.  The primary task will be to read the
assigned texts carefully (and repeatedly, if necessary), to come to
class prepared with short, written summaries, analyses, critiques,
and informed questions, and to participate actively in discussions.
The emphasis will be on continuous weekly engagement in written and
oral form with the ideas articulated in the texts.  There will be no
final seminar paper.
The seminar will be conducted in English.

Texts (Please order German texts through; please
order English books through or book seller of your

Freud: Das Unbehagen in der Kultur
(Eng. trans.: Civilization and its Discontents)	
Gehlen: Urmensch und Spätkultur
(Alternate Eng. text: Man in the Age of Technology)
Habermas: Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne
(Eng. trans.: The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity)

Horkheimer/Adorno: Dialektik der Aufklärung
(Eng. trans.: Dialectic of Enlightenment)
Luhmann: Theories of Distinction
Nietzsche: Zur Genealogie der Moral
(Eng. trans: On the Genealogy of Morality)
Weber: Die Protestantische Ethik
(Eng. trans.: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism)

Heidegger: “Das Zeitalter des Weltbildes”
(Eng. trans.: “The Age of the World Picture”)

Husserl: “Die Krisis des europäischen Menschentums und die
(Eng. trans.: “Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity”

Lukács: “Das Phänomen der Verdinglichung”
(Eng. trans.: “The Phenomenon of Reification”
Weber: “Wissenschaft als Beruf”
(Eng. trans.: “Science as a Vocation”)