14 September 2010

Body, Language, Power: the Question of the Human in 20th Century French Philosophy

(Formerly: Power, Desire, and Anti-Humanism: Foucault and Deleuze)

The goal of the course is to study significant accounts of the nature of human beings in 20th-century French continental philosophy. It will begin by investigating the existential-phenomenological conceptions of human nature developed by Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Persons, on such accounts, should be understood as being in the world, as embodied, as essentially defined by relations to others and relations of language, and as characterized by existential problems of anxiety and authenticity. We will then take up the development and transformation of this story in Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, who oppose to the humanist model of the well-formed and autonomous individual the model of persons as dispersed into networks of language and power.

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