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The Human Condition: Arendt, Nietzsche, Marx

COL 259
Spring 2020
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: GRST 288
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

"God is dead," the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in 1882, "and we have killed him!" Nietzsche presents these words as being proclaimed by "a madman who in the bright morning lit a lantern and ran around the marketplace crying incessantly." Both the content of this famous quotation and its setting express a concern with the internal and external conditions under which modern humans live, act, and think: without divine guidance and protection (internally), encountering one another only as buyers and sellers on the marketplace (externally). In this seminar, we will study three strikingly unique yet nonetheless intersecting ways of addressing the human condition after the death of god. We will start with Hannah Arendt's magisterial THE HUMAN CONDITION (1958) and her attempt to establish three fundamental human conditions connected to the activities of labor, work, and action. From Arendt, we will proceed in reverse chronological order, first by examining Nietzsche's critical genealogy of the human condition as having been distorted and made sick by the debilitating rationality of metaphysical first principles and Christian morality, then by investigating Marx's attempts to historicize and rethink the interdependence of humans and their natural environment in terms of an alienation of practice and the transformation of human labor into an abstract power of domination over humans and, eventually, the whole planet.

Each of our three thinkers has a distinct normative concept of what constitutes an unalienated human condition, each has a distinct diagnosis of the ills of the modern human condition and its historical genesis, and each has a distinct theory of how to confront these ills. Now is the time to read them and think about, with, and against their philosophies of the human condition.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: HA COL
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (COL)(CSCT)(GRST-MN)(GRST)
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on NOV-17-2019
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