PHIL / LIT 337 Life of the Mind: Hannah Arendt - Thomas Bartscherer
Cross-listed: German Studies; Literature What is the life of the mind? What makes us think and where are we when we think? What is the relationship between thinking and willing, between thought and action? What is the history and meaning of the concept of a “free will”? Hannah Arendt engaged these and related questions intensively in the last several years of her life, in conversation with a wide array of predecessors, including Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Duns Scotus, Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Kafka. Our objective in this course will be a careful study of that engagement. The posthumously published book called The Life of the Mind, comprised of two volumes, "Thinking" and "Willing," was assembled on the basis of manuscripts Arendt left incomplete at the time of her death. We shall be reading not only from the published text, but also from the manuscripts on which that text is based and from the newly constituted texts that are to be published in the forthcoming critical edition of this material. The philological and interpretative questions that emerge from this state of affairs will also be on our agenda. Put differently, we will be asking not only, with Arendt, the philosophical question, “what is the life of the mind?,” but also the philological question, “what is The Life of the Mind?”
GER 331 Poetry and Philosophy, Thomas Wild
Is there something like a sensory reasoning? Who has the capacity to formulate the unspeakable? How can we address— with words— the crisis of language? Is humor a thought or a sentiment? Poetry and philosophy have for centuries offered fascinating responses to such questions— not least in the German tradition. Poets, philosophers, and poetic thinkers—from Goethe, Kant, and Schiller, to Hölderlin, Heidegger, and Rilke, or from Heine, Nietzsche, and Kafka, to writers of the Avant-Garde, and on to Benjamin, Brecht, and Arendt—have all had something to say on these questions. The beauty and precision of their language(s) will foster our analytical vocabulary and will (we hope!) inspire ambitious and playful writing experiments and provoke a semester of joyful conversations with these thinkers of and in the German language. Conducted in German
FSEM I, Samantha Hill
This Year's Theme: The Self in the World
The First-Year Seminar invites students to reflect on how writers and thinkers past and present have grappled with the question of how the self relates to other people and to the wider community. The year-long course is underpinned by two narratives of discovery and (self-)exploration: Homer’s ancient Greek epic, the Odyssey, and its latter-day adaptation, the Afro-Caribbean epic poem Omeros by Derek Walcott (1990). The class also reads—slowly and carefully—a series of touchstone works that grapple with this central question of the self in the world from a wide range of perspectives: from the fragments of Sappho to the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, and from Dante’s Inferno to Rabindranath Tagore’s classic Bengali novel, The Home and the World. The readings in these core works are illuminated by companion texts from Genesis to Marx and Freud. Seminar-style discussion and writing-rich assignments ask students to consider how ideas about “citizenship,” both broadly and narrowly defined, have emerged over the centuries as responses to the complex relations between the self and the wider world, providing then with a foundation for their work at the College and for life beyond Bard. In addition to work in the classroom, the whole first-year class comes together in regular forums to engage creatively and critically with the ideas of the course.