PHIL 615: Postmodernist Thought

PHIL 615-001: Postmodernist Thought
(Spring 2022)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM W

Innovation Hall 323

Section Information for Spring 2022

This course is a study of postmodern thought.  The term “postmodern” first appeared in thlate 19th century in the context of art interpretation and critical analysis.  The paintings of the Impressionists, such as Monet and Renoir, were characterized as “modern art.”  When the paintings of the post-Impressionists, such as Van Gogh and Gaugin appeared, they were characterized as “post-modern.”  A notable subsequent appearance is in the final volume, appearing in 1971, of the multi-volume world history by prominent historian Arnold Toynbee.  Mid-twentieth century appearances tend to deploy the term in a manner close to the term post-industrial,” particularly in sociological contexts.  The term shows up in philosophical discourse with the publication in, 1984, of The Postmodern Condition:  A Report on Knowledge by Jean-François Lyotard.  Lyotard finds that the traditional “grand narratives,” including that of modernity and its conception of “progress,” no longer hold.  We had slipped, unawares, out of modernity’s context. 

It is characteristic of a fair number of thinkers associated with postmodern thought not to self-identify as such. This is consistent with the emphasis on synchronicity rather than diachronicity.  There are, nonetheless, commonalities, including themes. In this course we will study work by Foucault (from The Order of Things), by Derrida (from Of Grammatology and “Plato’s Pharmacy” in Dissemination), and Jean-François Lyotard (from The Postmodern Explained), as well as from two important precursors figures: Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil) and Heidegger (The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays).Themes on which we will focus include:  the subject, “Man,” binary oppositions, and the significance of the shift from the context of structuralism to the context of post-structuralism    

In the U. S. A. , postmodern work first showed up in the context of architecture.  We will examine postmodern architecture.  

Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

In recent decades, the term "postmodern," first used by art critics in the late 19th century, has been taken up by prominent contributors to the arts, social thinkers, and philosophers, to describe developments as well as the current period. Examines three thematic concerns found in work that is identified with postmodern issues: what modernity defines itself in contrast to or against, the status of "man," and status of "subjectivity." May not be repeated for credit.
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Junior Plus, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Graduate Regular scale.

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