June 24-30, 2018
Professors: Ayesha Ramachandran and Marta Figlerowicz
What did the ‘self’ mean to Plato or to Aristotle? And how should we understand it now, in the midst of public discussions about religious pluralism, diversity, and technological change as forces that shape our experience of the world? This course explores Western, Middle Eastern, and South Asian accounts of the ‘self,’ and asks what these intellectual histories can teach us about our contemporary world. We consider major philosophical perspectives from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Montaigne, Descartes, Hume, and Kant, among others) and how these theories were inspired, but also complicated, by religious conflicts, imperial politics, and changing scientific and cultural perspectives. The course examines time-honored philosophical concepts including authenticity, consciousness, introspection, and character; it also follows the long and complicated genealogies of categories such as race and gender. Through philosophical treatises, poems, novels, memoirs, feature films, graphic novels, personal essays, and pieces of journalism, the course develops tools for thinking about our contemporary world and ourselves within it. Yale for Life favorite, Professor Ayesha Ramachandran, and her fellow professor when a version of this course was taught in Yale College, Prof. Marta Figlerowicz, will lead us.
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