Philosophy 421:   Syllabus
 Topics in European Philosophy
 Spring 2001                                                                                                      Tu-Th 12:40 to 2:00
 Richard Peterson                                                                                              211 A Berkey Hall

                                                     Critical Theory

Required Texts:

  R. Gottlieb, ed., An Anthology of Western Marxism (G)
  D. Ingram and J. Simon-Ingram, eds., Critical Theory, The Essential Readings (I)
  S. Seidman, ed., Juergen Habermas on Society and Politics (S)
  P. Rabinow, ed., The Foucault Reader

Course Outline:

Jan. 9  Course Introduction.  Background in Hegel and Marx.  The problem of historical thinking and social possibility.  Gramsci and Lukacs.

Jan. 11 Gramsci on philosophy, intellectuals, common sense, and social evolution.
  Reading: Gramsci, “The Study of Philosophy” (G), pp. 120-37; “Problems of Marxism” (G), pp. 137-41; “The Intellectuals” (G), pp. 113-20

Jan. 16 Lukacs: recasting social theory in Hegelian terms.
  Reading: Lukacs, “Class Consciousness” (G), pp. 54-75; “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat” (G), pp. 74-83

Jan. 18 Lukacs and class consciousness.
  Reading: Lukacs, pp. 83-111

Jan. 23 Articulating the idea of critical theory: the Frankfurt School and its program
  Reading: Horkheimer, from "Traditional and Critical Theory" (I), pp. 239-54; Horkheimer, “Postscript” (G), pp. 171-78

Jan. 25 Philosophy in the context of critical theory
  Reading:   Marcuse, "Philosophy and Critical Theory" (I), pp. 5-19
   Recommended: Adorno, “Why Philosophy?” (I), pp. 20-30
Jan. 30 Conceptualizing society in historical terms
  Reading:   Adorno, “Society” (I), pp. 61-68;   Marcuse, “From Ontology to Technology” (web text)

Feb. 1  Triumph of instrumental reason?
  Reading:  Horkheimer and Adorno, “The Concept of Enlightenment” (I), pp. 49-56;    Horkheimer, from "Means and Ends" (I), pp. 35-48

Feb. 6  Social theory at the structural level
  Reading: Friedrich Pollack, “State Capitalism: Its Possibilities and Limitations” (web text)

Feb. 8  Political possibility and cultural context
  Reading: Horkheimer and Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (G), pp. 179-93

Feb. 13 Themes of mass media culture
  Reading:   Adorno, "How to Look at Television" (I), pp. 69-83

Feb. 15 Connecting structure and culture via psychoanalysis
  Reading:  Adorno, "Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda" (I), pp. 84-102;

Feb. 20 Freedom, needs and historical possibilities
  Reading:  Marcuse, “Freedom and Freud’s Theory of Instincts” (I), pp. 221-38;  Marcuse, "The Catastrophe of Liberation" (I), pp. 103-16;

Feb. 22 Integrating structure, culture, and personality formation
  Reading: Marcuse, from An Essay on Liberation (G), pp. 234-46

Feb. 27 Ethics and historical consciousness
  Reading: Marcuse, “On Hedonism” (I), pp. 151-75;  Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (web)

March 1 Review
                                                                          Spring Break

March 13 Rethinking critical theory
  Reading:  Habermas, "Knowledge and Human Interests:  A General Perspective" (I), pp. 255-67; “Between Philosophy and Science:  Marxism as Critique" (S), pp. 47-54

March 15 Locating instrumental reason
  Reading:  Habermas, Technology and Science as 'Ideology'" (S), pp. 237-65

March 20 Philosophical implications of a social conception of reason
  Reading:  Habermas, from "An Alternative Way Out of the Philosophy of the Subject:  Communicative Vs. Subject-Centered Reason" (I), pp. 273-81;  "Modernity:  An Unfinished Project" (I), pp. 342-56

March 22 Restating the problems of a philosophically minded social theory
  Reading:  "The Tasks of a Critical Theory of Society” (S), pp. 77-103

March 27 Preserving what is specific to politics and political rationality
  Reading:  "The Public Sphere" (S), pp. 231-36; “Social Action and Rationality” (S), pp. 142-64

March 29 Interaction and the lifeworld
  Reading: “The Concept of the Lifeworld and the Hermeneutic Idealism of Interpretive Sociology” (S), pp. 165-87

April 3  Crisis tendencies and historical possibilities
  Reading:    Habermas, "What Does a Legitimation Crisis Mean Today?" (S) and "The Crisis of the Welfare State and the Exhaustion of Utopian Energies" (S)

April 5  Review and introduction to Foucault
April 10 Rethinking the interconnection of enlightenment, reason, and modernity
  Reading: Foucault, “What is an Author?”;“The Subject and Power” (I), pp. 303-19
  Recommended: Foucault, “What is Enlightenment?”; Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” (Web site)

April 12 Individuals and disciplinary knowledge
  Reading: Foucault, “The Body of the Condemned,” “Docile Bodies,” “The Means of Correct Training,” “Panopticism,” pp. 170-213

April 17 Discipline, punishment, knowledge
  Reading: Foucault, “Complete and Austere Institutions,” “Illegalities and Delinquency,” “The Carceral,” pp. 214-38;
  Right of Death and Power over Life,” pp. 258-72

April 19 Bio-power
  Reading: Foucault, “The Politics of Health in the 18th Century,” “We Other Victorians,” “The Repressive Hypothesis,” pp. 274-328

April 24 Intellectuals, reason, and power
  Reading: Foucault, “Truth and Power,” pp. 51-75

April 26 Review
  Reading: Foucault, “Politics and Ethics: An Interview,” pp. 373-80

Course Requirements:
 Students should come to every class meeting and be prepared to discuss the readings.  “Being prepared” means having something to say, –  a question to raise, a point to dispute, a reason or interpretation to test, a text to clarify –  about the readings or previous class discussions.  There will be four short writing assignments (one for each section of the course) and a short term paper (8 pages or so).  Graduate students will also be required to make a short (10 to 15 minute) presentation to the class on some part of the assigned reading (a written version of the presentation is due that day).  Undergraduates may substitute one such oral presentation for a short writing assignment.

 The short papers will be due at the beginning of class on January 23, March 1, April 5, and April24.  Each of them will count 15% of the grade.  The term paper is due by 12 noon, Tuesday April 30 and should be submitted to the Philosophy Department Office, 503 S. Kedzie Hall.  The term paper counts 40% of the semester grade.

 There is a course web site which includes the syllabus, course assignments, links to useful sites, a text page, and a discussion forum:

or you can reach this through my web site: 

Office Hours:  Wednesdays, 1 to 3:30, and by appointment

512 S. Kedzie Hall
353-9378    E-mail:
355-4490 (messages)