Intellectual Heritage B (Spring 2008)
The goal of this course is to introduce students to influential works of poetry, drama, philosophy, and literature that have had a profound impact on modern civilization. Our focus will be both philosophical and historical. Students will gain familiarly with key texts that challenge them to evaluate some of their most fundamental beliefs. In the first section on the Enlightenment, we will explore the philosophical basis for modern liberal democracy by looking at the political philosophy of John Locke. After looking at Enlightenment celebrations of the power of human reason, in the second section we will study key works in the romantic reaction, from figures such as Blake, Wordsworth, Dickinson, and Whitman. In the fourth and largest section of the course, we will examine several revolutionary works from the intellectual giants of the late 19th and early 20th century: Darwin, Freud, Marx, and Nietzsche. In the last section of the course we will look at two novels: Conrad's brilliant but troubled critique of colonialism, Heart of Darkness; and Camus' The Stranger, which will serve as our introduction to existentialism.