Thursday, December 16, 2010

Teaching Fundamental Philosophical Questions

I just found out that I will be teaching "Fundamental Philosophical Questions" in the winter semester, along with  my course in the Department of Visual Arts, "Art Theories." Local University of Ottawa lore has it that the philosophy department split what is usually "Introduction to Philosophy" into "Fundamental Questions" and "Great Philosophers" as a concession to the Analytic/Continental divide. I'm using the fundamental questions to add several figures that aren't usually included in the canon (I've done this before with Great Philosophers as well). Here's what I've got after a few hours of work:
This course is an introduction to several of the fundamental questions of philosophy. We will be reading a variety of material dedicated to the search for the ‘good life.’ We will see that what the good life is has its own history, as we analyze texts ranging from Plato’s Republic to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. We will see how such a form of life is thought as an idea of harmony, religious devotion, a rational pursuit, a product of self-exploration and self-realization, and finally, as a mode of social involvement that seeks to appropriate and transform a way of life denied to historically marginalized groups and peoples.
After the usual suspects like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, or Rousseau (culled from Charles Guignon's anthology The Good Life), we'll spend a significant amount of time working with the themes of existentialism and alienation as a way into Léopold Sédar Senghor's "Negritude: A Humanism of the Twentieth Century" and Fanon's "On National Culture." This will be a whole other way to ask what the good life is.

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