Jun 15, 2024  
College Catalog 2021-2022 
College Catalog 2021-2022 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

GERM 277 - Metaphysics in Secular Thought

Cross-Listed as POLI 277  and RELI 277  
A widespread tendency in contemporary Western societies is to associate metaphysics with religion, if not with what is often dismissively called the “irrational.” This course will dismantle this myth by reading closely European philosophy and political theory, mostly since the seventeenth century, in their relation to theology and their reception by twentieth-century critical theory. This will allow us to examine the ways in which secular thought emerges not as an alternative to metaphysics-something which thought cannot supersede anyway-but rather as a different way of dealing with the very same metaphysical questions and issues that concern religion, from the meaning of life to the imminence of death, and from (actual or imagined) guilt to the hope for redemption. We shall endeavor to identify the similarities and differences between the ‘secular’ and the ‘religious’ ways, including their respective relations to rationality. Readings may include: Aristotle, Talal Asad, George Bataille, Walter Benjamin, Kenneth Burke, Richard Dienst, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Peter Harrison, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx, Marcel Mauss, Carl Schmitt, Baruch Spinoza, Alberto Toscano, Max Weber, Slavoj Zizek. Prerequisite(s): All readings in English. No pre-knowledge required. Occasionally. (4 Credits)