A non f-locked post, just for fun.

This summer I'm teaching an introductory freshman course on philosophy; it's a required core course, so I have a lot of non-majors. I've taught this course a number of times before, and I've decided to totally revamp the syllabus. Instead of focusing on the nature of the soul & freedom, I'm going to focus on love & pleasure.

So far, I have the following (mostly in excerpts): Plato, Phaedrus and Symposium; some Biblical bits from OT & NT; Augustine in excerpt (any specific recommendations are good!) ; Aquinas in excerpt on the nature of love & friendship (already know which bits I'll use); Descartes in excerpt from Passions of the Soul; a little Freud (from Civilization & its Discontents?); Kierkegaard excerpts from Diary of a Seducer and Works of Love.  Anything obvious I'm leaving out?  Any further suggestions?   Keep in mind this is a very very very intro-level course, and since it's only over 5 weeks, students don't have that much time to absorb.   Given the heavy Christian emphasis (which is inevitable given I'm required to include medieval philosophy), any commentary on love from non-Christian sources would be great, too. Is there any Buddhist stuff on love or pleasure that would be fun?

From: [identity profile] eve-prime.livejournal.com

For Augustine, how about some of the self-loathing from the Confessions? I hope he later had more balanced things to say on the topic, but I only read the Confessions.

From the Buddhist writers you're mostly going to get non-attachment stuff. Thich Nhat Hanh, who advocates "engaged Buddhism," does have positive and accepting things to say about the emotions - let me know if you'd like me to look up specific passages. I have three or four of his books.

It would be nice to include some women. How about de Beauvoir?

From: [identity profile] eve-prime.livejournal.com

Re Thich Nhat Hanh:

Actually, this book should do. The link includes an excerpt from the book, a personal story about the author falling in love.

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

yeah, it is pretty male-y, but that's hard to overcome in a history-of-philosophy-oriented course. I flipped through my anthology of early modern women philosophers, but didn't find much. And I don't just want to default to feminist ethics of care stuff on love (mostly just because I teach it all the time, and I want to do new stuff this summer). De Beauvoir might be good; any specific recommendations? I've been meaning to read Ethics of Ambiguity but haven't yet, so I don't know if anything there would be helpful to me.

Maybe something from Christine Korsgaard's Sources of Normativity, but that might be way above my freshmen's heads.

thanks for the Thich Nhat Hanh rec. below!

From: [identity profile] eve-prime.livejournal.com

I've never read de Beauvoir, but I think I ought to. It looks like she's interested in sexual love as a context for authenticity and overcoming the estrangement between self and other. This overview of her work has lots of interesting leads. I like the phrase "the truth of the erotic event," though I doubt it would go over well if you had your students reading her intro to de Sade's Justine. Maybe something from The Second Sex?

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

Given that this is a very introductory course, and probably the first college-level course any of them will have had (I even had a high school student in my class last year, when I taught this section), I'm steering away from anything overly erotic. (Though I am tempted have them read Szymborska's "On the question of pornography" (http://www.filg.uj.edu.pl/ifa/przeklad/przeklad2/poezja2.html))

Hrm. Times like these I wish I knew Irigaray better. But again, very intro class. Clarity is all-important.

From: [identity profile] eve-prime.livejournal.com

I do think the perspective of physical love having value is worth including, and de Beauvoir just because she's someone new students should have some acquaintance with. Too bad I'm not actually familiar with her work so I could recommend something specific and tame!

Good poem!

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

Yeah, I agree with you on both counts (and I usually teach parts of the introduction to The Second Sex in this course, actually). It's just that if we spend time on physical love in the class, I want it to be as crystal clear as possible, so that students aren't mystified & I don't run into any unfortunate misunderstandings.

(Freshmen are capable of very bizarre thought processes)

From: [identity profile] max-ambiguity.livejournal.com

Maybe it's not introductory enough, but I would immediately think of Gilles Deleuze's Coldness and Cruelty (and de Sade, but he isn't really a philosopher, is he?). Because I'm cruel.

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

Hm. Deleuze might be a bit much for them. Maybe, though... hrm. I'll flip through, if it's at our library.

From: [identity profile] noetickerf.livejournal.com

there's an interesting decision to be made w/r/t plato, whether one is going to attempt to confine the discussion to eros, or to introduce care as well.

something to take into account augustine's chiastics of love

something from the philokalia, medieval love mysticism, dante, the troubadors

lacan via zizek if necessary; zupancic has a nice article called, i think, "the perforated sheet" that touches badiou's dense formalization of love in "the scene of two". unfortunately the badiou probably can't be read directly in intro.

sartre & de beauvoir (i'll name specific texts later if desired.)

agamben's insanely beautiful essay "the face" in means without end.

irigaray's to be two is significantly more significant than her usual fare.

cavell's wittgensteinian account of the denial of love in shakespeare's tragedies, in the claim of reason and disownning knowledge.

there's a short easy piece directly on love from hegel's early writings, but there may be something better from the actual romantics that i don't know about...or even in faust.

triple underlined for emphasis: levinas. seriously.

i'll get you some asian stuff later, if you like. it would be nice to have at least the yoga/tantra dialectic represented (abhinavagupta is good for this)...and (more or less the same choice facing one as with plato) to open things up to the ontological function of karuna (compassion) coming out of nagarjuna and tsong kapha.

possible: barthes on the pleasure of the text

possible: marcuse (eros & civ.), dorothy dinnerstein (the mermaid & the minotaur), brown (life against death). these are somewhat similar in orientation (freudian liberators, eros/thanatos folks).

i don't know if you'll believe me, but luhmann's book on love is actually an amazing read, packed with useful insights, however peculiar his methodology may finally be...

probably some students will have read, and may be attached to fromm's art of loving, or c.s. lewis' the four loves, so it might be useful to look at these in the course of your own preparation, just to know where they're coming from.

there is contemporary "analytic" work on love, as well, which can be useful as a foil. i can be more specific if any of this interests you.

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

Thanks for the long list! Some of them I will file away for my own future reference. I worry that some of those might be a little beyond what I'd normally expect of the folks in this course-- it is not only introductory, but mostly non-majors. The CS Lewis is a good recommendation though; now that I come to think of it, I know others have used that in similar courses to mine & had good success.

What's the title of the Cavell piece? I haven't read it, and it might be workable.

From: [identity profile] noetickerf.livejournal.com

don't mention it. i wasn't so much recommending using the lewis, though, as much as familiarizing yourself with it, so you know what kind of pseudophilosophy you're up against.

the two cavell titles are in my original comment. they're books, so you'd have to hunt around a bit, for what suits you best.

From: [identity profile] didymus3000.livejournal.com

Augustine, DDC, book I - on uti/frui. and how that fits with love of god and neighbor. helps to explain the homo-erotic parts of the confessions.

that's about as philosophical as i get... at least these days.

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

hahaha. dig it. I've not read DDC (that's on christian doctrine, right?). I will have to spend some quality time with Augustine this summer; he and I have not hung out since my conversion.

From: [identity profile] didymus3000.livejournal.com

yeah, that's "on christian teaching." it's probably a good thing you haven't spent much time with the b of hippo since the conversion. he might turn you into a reformed anglican.


From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

I just want to see if some of the stuff that I thought made no sense whatsoever makes some sense now. Or if it still utterly doesn't.

From: [identity profile] phronesis.livejournal.com

I'm surprised you aren't including Aristotle's Ethics Book 8. Also if you are going to be reading Kierkegaard including Schlegel's Lucinda could be fun.

From: [identity profile] owl-of-minerva.livejournal.com

They will get their Aristotle in the sophomore core.

Indeed, it would be fantastic to include Lucinde. I <3 Schegel. Sadly, this is only a month-long core course, for freshmen, so there is a limit to what can be done.

I worry that the course packet is already too long. I excised Diary of a Seducer, but left in the section from Works of Love on mourning the dead.

Are you studying Kierkegaard? A bunch of my friends are at the Kierkegaard library at St Olaf's this summer.



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