Freedom, Solidarity, Truth Philosophy 233

Prof. James Conant Spring Quarter, 2000

Course Description This course will focus on the writings of the American philosopher Richard Rorty (especially his book Contingency, Irony and Solidarity) and the British essayist and novelist George Orwell (especially his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four). The aim of the course will be to compare and contrast Rorty’s and Orwell’s respective conceptions of the relation between preservation of freedom, fostering of community, and regard for truth. We will then go on to explore these issues as they arise in the writings of a number of other philosophers (most notably Cora Diamond, Hilary Putnam, and Peter Winch) and literary figures (most notably Milan Kundera, Csezlaw Milosz, and Vaclav Havel).

Prerequisites There are no formal prerequisites for this course.

Books The following six books are for sale at the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore and are required for the course: Author Richard Rorty. George Orwell George Orwell Vaclav Havel Milan Kundera Czeslaw Milosz Book Contingency, Irony and Solidarity Nineteen Eighty-Four The Orwell Reader Open Letters The Book of Laughter and Forgetting The Captive Mind Publisher Cambridge NAL Vintage Vintage Vintage Vintage


The table of contents for each coursepacket is attached to this syllabus.The following two books are for sale at the Seminary Co-Op Bookstore and are recommended (but not required) for the course: Richard Rorty Richard Rorty Objectivity. Course Requirements A five-page midterm paper (30%) and a ten-page final paper (70%). Relativism. January 20. The first coursepacket will go on sale Thursday. and Truth Truth and Progress Cambridge Cambridge Also required for this course are two coursepackets of readings. the second will go on sale Thursday. They will be for sale at the Humanities Copy Center in Classics 11. read Richard Rorty’s essay “Solidarity or Objectivity” in the first coursepacket. January 10th. First Reading Assignment For Monday. 2 . The rest of the readings for this course will be made available in xerox form through these two coursepackets. January 6.

3. “Solidarity or Objectivity” Richard Rorty. “Pragmatism.First Coursepacket of supplementary readings Table of Contents 1. 2. Davidson and Truth” Richard Rorty. “Putnam and the Relativist Menace” Second Coursepacket of supplementary readings Table of Contents 3 . Richard Rorty.

O. “Orwell on the Future” Peter Van Inwagen. 8. 9. and Relativism” Donald Davidson. selection Hilary Putnam. 14. 7. 3. “A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge” Terrence Des Pres. selection H. Reason. 12. 4. 2. selection Michel Foucault. “On Governing Narratives” Zbigniew Herbert. “How Old Are These Bones?” Hilary Putnam. Debunkers. 6. “Looking Back on the Spanish War” Jeremy Bentham. 13. Prologue Lionel Trilling. “Nineteen Eighty-Four: Should Political Theory Care?” Caleb Thompson.1. The Two Pragmatisms. 5. The Panopticon Writings. “Truth: Defenders. selection Czeslaw Milosz. selection Peter Winch. Discipline and Punish. “Six Lectures in Verse” Anna Akhmatova. 11. selection Cora Diamond. “Reply to Conant” 4 . 15. 19. “Philosophy and Corruption of Language” Richard Rorty. 17. Despisers” Cora Diamond. Belief. “Requiem”. 10. Truth and History. “Language. 18. George Orwell. 16. selection Judith Shklar. Metaphysics. Realism With a Human Face. Mounce. Report From a Besieged City.

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