SSI2 196

Honors: Postmodernism and the Challenge of Belief

This course studies the philosophical, historical, and aesthetic underpinnings of the late twentieth-century zeitgeist known as postmodernism, the assumptions of which continue to govern much of how we think today, especially in the academy. While many of the ideas central to postmodernism are many centuries old, their significance with respect to matters of belief (whether ethical, epistemological, or religious) has never before been so fully realized. The nature of subjectivity, truth, reality, morality, and knowledge itself have all been radically `problematized?. Without recourse to claims of truth, or moral systems, how do we distinguish right from wrong? How do we adjudicate conflicts in a world in which all values are equally contingent? How do we convince others of the validity of our positions, and is it even ethical to do so? The course explores the origins of postmodernism; the social, moral, and philosophical consequences of its core assumptions; its benefits and limitations in addressing real world concerns; and how it is itself a system of belief with a worldview no less totalizing and morally rigorous than the religious and Enlightenment precursors it sought to displace. Affiliate department: Honors.

Prerequisites: Admission to the Honors Program. SSI2 enrollment requires completion of SSI1 seminar.