POSC 255: POST-MODERN POLITICAL THOUGHT

Laurence Cooper
Winter 2002
416 Willis
Office Hours: MF 2-4
x4111
and by appt.

I. Purpose and Scope

Although there is little agreement as to its meaning and essence (if any), there is a widely shared sense that the modern age is dead or dying, that it has begun to give way to its sequel. Fortunately or unfortunately there is even less agreement about what that sequel is or will be. The only thing agreed upon is that what follows modernity is, or will be, or must be, different from its predecessor. Hence its not-very-illuminating and entirely derivative name: the "post-modern." Our task in this class will be to consider some of the major intellectual currents of the present age with a view toward determining, to the extent possible, the plight and prospects of post-modern humanity and the feasibility and desirability of various visions of the post-modern world.

II. Course Requirements

By far the most important requirement is that you read all assigned texts closely and before class. The readings are usually not long but they will sometimes be difficult, and they demand – and success in the course will demand – careful attention and review. You should come to class prepared to discuss what you’ve understood and prepared to ask about what you haven’t understood. Course grades will be determined by three papers (30% each) and class participation (10%). Included in class participation is that you lead discussion during the first part of one class meeting.

III. Academic Honesty

Strict standards of academic integrity will be upheld in this class. When you hand in a paper you will be understood to be affirming that you have neither given nor received inappropriate aid. Students who are found to have violated this standard should expect severe sanctions.

IV. Assigned Texts

The following books are available for purchase at the bookstore:

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays

Paul Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader

Jacques Derrida, Margins of Philosophy

Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity

Thomas Pangle, The Ennobling of Democracy

(Since the schedule calls for only one day on the Derrida reading, it will be placed on closed reserve for those who wish to photocopy rather than purchase it.)

V. Class Schedule

(Note that this is an approximate schedule. We may depart from it if class discussions, etc. so require.)

January 3: Introduction and Plato handout

January 8: Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Preface (pp. 1-3) and Parts 1 and 2

January 10: Beyond Good and Evil, Parts 3 and 4

January 15: Beyond Good and Evil, Parts 5 and 6

January 17: Beyond Good and Evil, Parts 7 and 8

January 22: Beyond Good and Evil, Part 9

January 24: Heidegger, "The Age of the World Picture"

January 29: Heidegger, "The Word of Nietzsche: ‘God is Dead’"

FIRST PAPER DUE FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 5:00 PM

January 31: Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology" and "The Turning"

February 5: Foucault, pp. 31-75

February 7: Foucault, pp. 121-67

February 12: Foucault, pp. 169-256

February 14: Foucault, pp. 258-72 and 292-339

February 19: Derrida, "Différance" and "The Ends of Man"

SECOND PAPER DUE MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 5:00 PM

February 21: Rorty, chapters 1-3

February 26: Rorty, chapters 4-5 and 9

February 28: No class – meet instead on Friday, March 1, 3:00 PM for guest lecture by Professor Michael Gillespie of Duke University (location to be announced)

March 5: Pangle, Introduction and Part III (recommended: Part I)

March 7: Pangle, Part IV

FINAL PAPER DUE SATURDAY, MARCH 16, 5:30 PM