PHIL 331S – Seminar Philosophy and Literature (Flanagan) Tu 1:30-4:00PM West Duke 204
Disciplines in the humanities and social sciences are defined and distinguished not by necessary and sufficient conditions that define what the discipline is or is about, but rather by family resemblances in subject matter and among certain kinds or modes of speaking, writing, and expressing. We will look at what (if anything) defines the subject matter, the boundary(ies), the methodology(ies), and the products of analytic philosophical discourse and literature (mostly novels & plays), respectively. One central question is this: Are there ways of treating philosophical problems in ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics that are well-suited, even more well-suited, to expression in literature than in standard analytic philosophical discourse? What can literature teach about philosophical problems that relate to mind, morals, and the meaning of life? What kind of knowledge, if any, does literature provide or produce? What are the advantages and disadvantages of different idioms, different disciplines for addressing different philosophical problems? Prior to the seminar all students will be asked to study A. J. Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic, which will function as the seminar’s exemplar for analytic philosophy. Readings from Aristotle, Euripides, Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Neitzsche, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Wittgenstein, Beckett, Camus, de Beauvoir, Sartre. Taught by Owen Flanagan.
English 220S – Shakespeare, Tragedy, Philosophy, Romance (Beckwith) M 2:50-5:20pm Allen 317
This class has the following aims in mind: The first is to explore the intersections between ordinary language philosophy and theater. J.L.Austin’s work has spawned an entire field of perfomance theory and yet such theories often work against the grain of the distinctions Austin thought worth making in analyzing how words do what they do. This class takes a new look at the relation between ordinary language philosophy and theater. I see a natural affinity between the practices of theater and the practices of ordinary language philosophy because each practice is committed to examining particular words used by particular speakers in particular situations. Each practice understands language as situation which is different from “context” because sometimes we only understand the context when we understand what it is that is being said. Ordinary language philosophy makes the very radical claim that we will fail to understand what something means until we understand what it does, until we understand the force of the words used on any particular occasion as, say, entreaty, command, order, suggestion, permission, request, prayer. Each practice understands language as act, as event in the world, and so asks us to extend our conception of the work of language beyond the work of representation, the chief focus of historicism old and new.
The second aim of the course is to examine the world of tragedy and post-tragedy in Shakespearean romance and thereby to discuss philosophy’s investment in and sometimes aversion to tragedy and comedy. Here we will be thinking with the work of Stanley Cavell, Martha Nussbaum and other thinkers about tragedy including thinkers as diverse as Hegel and Franco Moretti. One of our areas of interest here will be the relation between Protestantism and the work of what Wittgenstein calls “private language.”
This class should be of interest in all who are interested in Shakespeare, in exploring ordinary language philosophy and criticism, in the relations between philosophy and literature, and performance studies. Taught by Sarah Beckwith.