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The Philosophic Dialogue

Semester and Year SU 2009
Course Number K20.1425
Section 001
Instructor
Days Mon,Tue,Wed,Thu,Fri
Time 1:30 PM - 4:15 PM
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement

Description

In this course, we will read philosophical dialogues and their modern successors, poetic prose pieces and a play whose subjects are art and rhetoric. Ancient to modern writers have been fascinated with the power of art, and for each, ideas about art are connected to those about language and society. In our reading of Ion and Gorgias we will look at Plato's ideas on art, rhetoric (oratory), and power before his Republic. Phaedrus, written later, complements the discussion in earlier texts, developing Plato's ideas about the relation of the intellect, the emotions, and the appetites. We will then discuss Diderot's Rameau's Nephew, which revisits some of Plato's themes from the perspective of the eighteenth century and the changing world of the Enlightenment. Finally, we will explore the dialogue form in the twentieth century through Tom Stoppard's play Arcadia and excerpts from works of modern writers. In our dialogue, we will explore not only what these writers say, but how they say it, and speculate on how and why conversation, rather than monologue, can give rise to knowledge. Among the questions I hope we consider are the following: How are ideas born from conversation (and, I hope, our conversations)? What is the importance of human relationship in intellectual inquiry? How does the dialogue imply, and necessitate, our participation as readers? Readings may include works by Plato, Diderot, Stoppard and selected excerpts from Bakhtin and Mallarmé.

Course Type

May Intensives

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