HUM 301

The Idea of the Self

This course engages philosophical and literary works from the late Seventeenth to the Mid-Twentieth Century that document the emergence of the modern concept of the self. The authors considered explore such questions as, "Is the self static, determinate, and unified, or is it dynamic, ephemeral, and fragmented? Is it autonomous or culturally conditioned? Does it will its own actions, or are these determined by external circumstances? Is it innately good, or evil, or neither?" Working from literary, philosophical, historical, and psychological perspectives, the course traces how early modern thought in the West has variously represented the self, how these representations have reflected and influenced its cultural evolution, and how they remain imbedded in contemporary formulations of selfhood. Authors include Pascal, Hobbes, Bunyan, Locke, La Rochefoucauld, De Lafayette, Franklin, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Dostoevsky, Freud, Kojeve, and Girard.