Modernity and Its Discontents
Full course description
The second course will cover the emergence of new ideas that structured modern life and society up to today. Many leading ideas and principles from the political, social, and cultural world (such as political ideologies, naturalised world views, and optimism about the potential of science) as well as opposition against them can be traced to Enlightenment thinkers and Romantic views. This course will present major thinkers (Descartes, Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Tocqueville, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Weber, Arendt) who shaped modern society and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Themes will include the rise of individualism, belief in progress, cultural pessimism, the death of God, the emergence of democratic movements, psychoanalysis, and the opposition between Western and Eastern philosophy.
You will learn about:
- the intensifying processes of rationalisation that emerged during the Enlightenment;
- the opposition to these developments in the nineteenth and twentieth century, discussing such values as freedom, justice and authenticity;
- the processes underlying the emergence of political ideologies and alternative perspectives on Western culture.
Furthermore, students will learn to analyse, evaluate and reflect upon the complex arguments brought forward by the great thinkers studied in this course.