Friday, 18 January 2013

Historical Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Elie Wiesel's Night

Dear All,

Another perspective - or lens - we can use to look at the individual is history. Of course, history, too, provides not one single view but a myriad of times, places, and perspectives.

A particularly sad chapter in history has been looked at more often than many others - probably because it is a chapter whose cruelty is beyond comprehension for most "normal" individuals. The chapter of history I am talking about is the Holocaust.

Elie Wiesel, one of the most famous Holocaust survivors, too, has tried to shed more light on this particularly dark chapter of human history.

Please read Elie Wiesel's Night and think about the following questions:

1) How does the historical experience of the author get transformed in(to) the book?
2) How does the experience of the holocaust change the understanding of the concept of "self" of the protagonist?
3) What can we, as individuals, learn from Night?

Topics for for further discussion:

1) The Individual and the State
2) Politics and Personal Responsibility
3) The Self and the Other
4) Despair and Hope
5) [Add Your Own Topic Suggestion]

You can find some background information about Night - including some links to excellent interviews with Elie Wiesel - in the post of November 7th, 2012:

Thank you!


Philosophical Perspectives on the Individual - Part 1: Western Philosophy, 1: Hegel & Marx

The most obvious way to look at the concept of "the Individual" is, of course, from a philosophical perspective - or, more precisely, from a number of different philosophical perspectives.

If you are not too familiar with what philosophy is and what it does, here a brief introduction:
This clip is also available on youtube:

Let's start our investigation of the individual through the eyes of philosophy by first looking at some of the most famous Western philosophers: Hegel and Marx - here mediated by Peter Singer:


What concept of the individual do you think underlies Hegel's ideas? And how does this concept change in Marx? Please comment!

More philosophical perspectives will follow later.

Thank you,


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Welcome to a New Beginning!

Dear All,

Welcome to a new year, a new blog, and a new course!
We will focus this term on philosophical, psychological, political, and literary perspectives on the individual. Please feel free to add comments and ideas - as well as links to useful texts, clips, and websites - any time you like!

Since we will analyze several poems, novels, essays, and other texts during the next months, here a link to some "tools" that you might find helpful. Please click on Handout #3: "Tools for Textual Analysis":

Thank you!