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The Public and the Private

The gap between the private and the public is often insurmountable. The private sphere is identified with the innermost predilections and aspirations of the individual, whereas the public realm often is determined by violent mass movements and antagonisms. To understand the dynamics of the dichotomy and to reflect on the personal and collective issues confronting us, we will read and discuss texts on the relation between the individual and society; ethics and politics; and alternative economic, social, and political systems. Is democracy the worst form of government, except for all the others, as Winston Churchill famously declared? Are anarchy, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and various versions of utopia viable options? How about socialism? Is there a role for psychology? What about philosophy? Course readings are selected from the works of Aristotle, Politics; Epicurus, Letters and Principal Doctrines; Epictetus, The Enchiridion; Marx, The Communist Manifesto; Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents; Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future and The Human Condition; and Simone Weil, The Need for Roots.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • Enhanced cultural literacy
  • Knowledge of philosophical theory and thought

Ideal for

  • Those interested in philosophy and politics
  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in between
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.