FRS 101(F) Interpreting Human Experience (W)
How we make sense of the world, and of our lives, depends to a considerable degree on the intellectual methodologies we apply to the task of interpretation. Freud, for instance, saw selfhood and perception as fundamentally determined by the structures of the psyche itself; Marx, by contrast, argued that our sense of reality is conditioned primarily by our material and social circumstances; more recently, historian of science Thomas Kuhn has emphasized that the underlying assumptions which shape the very questions we pose as thinkers significantly influence and limit what data, and thus what reality, we are most likely to observe. This course aims to provide a foundational experience for the liberal arts education, by engaging with key religious, political, literary, anthropological, philosophical and psychoanalytic texts with a view to complicating our sense of the purposes and possibilities of intellectual life and confronting the challenges of epistemology. Readings will include works by Plato, Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Marx, Kuhn, Chinua Achebe, Freud, E.M.Forster, Naguib Mahfouz and extracts from the Bible and the Koran. In keeping with the aims of the FRS program, the course is intended to foster productive connections between what we discuss and debate in class and your broader experiences as students. The course will invite and promote interdisciplinary connections between core ways of seeing and interpreting the world, with a strong emphasis on improving your critical skills. Format: seminar. Requirements: regular short writing assignments designed to hone your reading skills; four papers ranging from 3-5 pages; participation in one or two tutorial sessions; and active contribution to discussion. Enrollment limited to FRS students. Two sections limited to 19 students per section. Satisfies one semester of the Division I requirement.