This course explores modern and contemporary philosophical views on human nature and institutions. It is particularly concerned with philosophical questions arising as a result of modern movements such as Marxism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, sociobiology, feminism, national liberation movements, environmentalism, the sexual revolution, and the "global village" phenomenon. Writings by mostly modern and contemporary philosophers on freedom, gender, the family, self-respect, work, spirituality, sexuality, love, commitment, and community will be examined. An interdisciplinary and multicultural approach will be used.
Recommend eligibility for English 1A; recommend Philosophy 1 or Philosophy 3
No department requirement. Works such as the following might be read and discussed (this list is not exhaustive):
I. HUMAN NATURE 3 weeks Standard Western philosophical views: Plato, Aristotle, Christianity, Hobbes, Descartes, KantModern views: Nietzsche, Marx, feminism, psychoanalysis, behaviorism, ethology, sociobiology, existentialismIs there such a thing as "human nature"? Deconstructionism2. PERSONAL IDENTITY: Who do I know when I know myself? 1 week 3. CONCEPTIONS OF THE SELF IN NON-WESTERN PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION 3 weeksThe Hindu view of Brahman/AtmanChinese conceptions of human nature (Confucius and Mencius vs HsŸn-Tzu) Problems associated with personal identity and reincarnationBuddhist viewsAn African (Akan) view of the self4. FREEDOM 2 weeksThe challenge of behaviorism, Freudianism, ethology, and sociobiology5. PERSONS AND ANIMALS 1 week"Human chauvinism" and environmentalism 6. GENDER 1 weekTo what extent do gender distinctions inhibit or foster the full development of human potential?Do people develop most fully within a framework of definite sex roles?Is androgyny the ideal?Why is it important to develop human potential? 7. MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY 1 week The Marxist viewThe Freudian viewFeminist viewsThe rights of children8. LOVE 1 weekNature, kinds of loveRomance - pernicious myth?Can a person love too much?9. WORK, SELF-ACTUALIZATION, AND OPPRESSION 1 weekWhat is oppression? Can a person be oppressed and not know it?Oppression and self-respectMarx's concept of alienated labor"Women's work" 10. NEW MORAL OBLIGATIONS? 1 weekTraditional Western ethical theories do not consider the moral situation of the modern affluent person exposed by the media to enormous human suffering in other parts of the world. What are our moral obligations towards persons in need in other communities or countries?Singer's view and the controversy surrounding it11. NEW SEXUAL ETHICS? 1 week Traditional Western theories about sexual ethics do not discuss modern phenomena such as effective and widespread birth control, overpopulation, and women's rights. Should sexual ethics change as a result of these factors?Is abortion a major or even a minor wrong?What is responsible sexual behavior in the context of a committed relationship? (Russell, Taylor) 12. NEW APPROACHES TO RELIGION? 1 week In general, in an age of information overload, how should we choose our beliefs? Is science the answer? (Peirce, James)Are organized religions essentially oppressive institutions?Do people have "spiritual" needs? Does life have a "spiritual" dimension? If these questions have answers, what ought we to do?Alternative conceptions of the divine: feminist, liberal Protestant, non-Western
Completion of required reading and final exam. Other requirements are determined by instructor; these may include completion of one or more papers, other written exams, journal assignments, participation in class discussion, class attendance, etc.
EvaluationIn accordance with Title V regulations, there must be at least one substantial (greater than one paragraph) writing assignment. Generally, evaluation is based primarily on written papers and essay examinations.
Suggested Instructional Methods and Materials
Primarily lecture and discussion. This can be supplemented by films, videos, oral reports, guest speakers, class debates, etc., as deemed appropriate and desirable by the individual instructor. Readings should include primary source material. |||