Society, Morality, and Religion from Kant to Nietzsche
Fall Semester 2008: MWF 11:30-12:20 SO 407
Professor Eric S. Nelson
Office: Olney 101b Telephone: 978-934-3996
Fall 2008 Office Hours at Olney 101b:
Mon: 1:35-3:35pm, Wed: 1:35-3:35pm, and by appointment
My Homepage: http://faculty.uml.edu/enelson/index.html
This course offers a detailed introduction to central figures of 19th-century European philosophy such as Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche in the context of their responses to the Enlightenment, the condition of modernity, the growth of democracy, capitalism, and secularization, and the critical project of Kant. Emphasis will be placed on the radical transformation of philosophical questions concerning morality, religion, politics, and society during this period. We will reflect on issues of truth and subjectivity, religion and morality, history and politics, and art and culture.
Prerequisites for the course: None
Students for whom course is intended: All levels
Course Goals and Objectives
1. The goals of this course are to promote:
(a) Familiarity with a wide-range of positions and arguments of nineteenth-century European philosophy, and
(b) Critical reasoning and reflection through considering a variety of philosophical issues.
2. The objectives of this course are
for students to develop their ability and skills in:
(a) Interpreting texts by accurately and fully describing concepts and arguments
(b) Reasoning about ideas by (i) evaluating the content, structure, and strategies of philosophical works and (ii) applying concepts and arguments to contemporary issues and their own lives, and
(c) Collaborating with other students, and presenting and supporting their ideas in public through class participation.
Students are required to:
1. Complete all assigned readings
2. Maintain regular attendance
3. Participate in class discussion and in discussion groups
4. Complete all written assignments on-time
1. Three Exams = 75% of final course grade.
2. Attendance, participation, in-class (individual or group) assignments = 25% of final grade. Note that beginning with the fourth absence, each additional absence will lower the grade by 0.3/0.4 out of a 4.0 scale. There will be oral and written, individual and group, in-class assignments based on the readings and class-discussion.
Assignments are intended to familiarize you with the readings, encourage you to develop your skills in reasoning, and reflect on ethical, religious, and social-political issues in different contexts and from a variety of perspectives. It is better to do this directly than use unreliable sources on the internet. For example, you can look at sites such as wikipedia to gain an initial impression of the average public understanding of a topic or figure but your own thinking and writing should be more critical, engaged, rigorous, and it should be your own on the basis of the text and the class lectures and discussions.
Special Instructions for
1. Exams will cover the assigned readings and class discussions of them, and will involve describing, explaining, and evaluating texts, concepts, and arguments.
2. In-class group discussion assignments will engage questions from the reading and discussion for that day of class. They will require that groups of students debate the meaning and validity of arguments, formulate possible alternatives, and arrive at a solution to be turned in at the end of class.
3. Students are expected to attend class regularly, and attendance will be taken daily. Attending class and actively participating will improve your final grade by 20%.
Need help? Feel free to talk with me after class, during office hours, or by arrangement. Also check out the following resource: Guide to the Study of Philosophy, http://www.philosophypages.com/sy.htm
Click here for Further Description of Policies and Procedures
Required Texts (available at the UML North Campus Bookstore)
1. Immanuel Kant,
Perpetual Peace and Other Essays on Politics, History, and Morals (Hackett,
1983, ISBN-10: 0915145472)
2. G. W. F. Hegel, Spirit (Hackett, 2001; ISBN-10: 087220569X)
3. Karl Marx, Selected Writings, ed. L. H. Simon (Hackett, 1994; ISBN-10: 0872202186)
4. Søren Kierkegaard, A Literary Review (Penguin Classics, 2006; ISBN-10: 0140448012)
5. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ (Penguin Classics, 1990; ISBN-10: 0140445145)
6. Ludwig Feuerbach, Principles Of The Philosophy Of The Future (Hackett, ISBN-10: 0915145278)
1. Sept. 3, 2008: Introduction to the course
I. Kant, Enlightenment, and Cosmopolitanism
2. Sept. 5: Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" Read pages 41-46
3. Sept 8: Immanuel Kant, "Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Intent." Read pages 29-39
4-5. Sept. 10 and 12: Immanuel Kant, "On the Proverb that may be true in Theory, but is of no Practical Use." Read pages 61-89
6-7. Sept. 15 and 17: Immanuel Kant, "To Perpetual Peace." Read pages 107-139
II. Hegel, Spirit, and Ethical Life
8. Sept. 19: G. W. F. Hegel, Spirit and the Ethical World. Read Spirit, pages 1-19
9. Sept. 22: G. W. F. Hegel, Ethical Action and Right. Read Spirit, pages 20-35
10-11. Sept. 24 and 26: G. W. F. Hegel, Culture. Read Spirit, pages 35-67
12. Sept. 29: G. W. F. Hegel, Faith and Enlightenment. Read Spirit, pages 67-87
13. Oct. 1: G. W. F. Hegel, Faith and Enlightenment continued. Read Spirit, pages 87-103
14. Oct. 3: G. W. F. Hegel, Absolute Freedom and Terror. Read Spirit, pages 103-112
15. Oct. 6: G. W. F. Hegel, Morality. Read Spirit, pages 112-134
16. Oct. 8: G. W. F. Hegel, Conscience. Read Spirit, pages 134-158
17. Oct. 10: (In-Class) Exam I
Oct. 13 Monday *Columbus Day (University Closed)
III. Marx, History, and Capitalism
18. Oct. 15: Karl Marx, Toward a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Read Marx, pages 27-39
19. Oct. 17: No Class!
20-21. Oct. 20 and 22: Excerpt Notes of 1844 and Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts. Read Marx, pages 40-97
22-23. Oct. 24 and 27: Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach and Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology: Ideology and History. Read Marx, 99-101, 103-156
24. Oct. 29: Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, and selections from Capital. Read pages 209-213, 216-225
25. Oct. 31: Selections from Capital: Commodification and Commodity Fetishism. Read Marx, 225-243
26. Nov. 3: Selections from Capital: Exchange, Capital and Labor. Read Marx,
IV. Kierkegaard and the Present Age
27. Nov. 5: Søren Kierkegaard, A Literary Review. Read pages, 52-60; Recommended reading, 3-52.
28. Nov. 7: Søren Kierkegaard, A Literary Review. Read pages, 60-73
29. Nov. 10: Søren Kierkegaard, A Literary Review. Read pages, 73-87
30. Nov. 12: Søren Kierkegaard, A Literary Review. Read pages, 87-101
31. Nov. 14: (In-Class) Exam II
V. Nietzsche and the Transvaluation of all Values
32. Nov. 17: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols. Read pages, 31-51
33. Nov. 19: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols. Read pages, 52-70
34. Nov. 21: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols. Read pages, 71-89
35. Nov. 24: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols. Read pages, 90-107
36. Nov. 26: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols. Read pages, 107-121
THANKSGIVING BREAK (no classes)
37. Dec. 1: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ. Read pages, 126-142
38. Dec. 3: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ. Read pages, 142-158
39. Dec. 5: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ. Read pages, 158-173
40. Dec. 8: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ. Read pages, 173-188
41. Dec. 10: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ. Read pages, 188-199
42. Dec. 12: Conclusions, Course Evaluations and (Take-Home) Exam III
December 19: (Take-Home) Exam III Due by 4pm at my office Olney 101b!