2018-2019 Catalog

CSLC 107 Marx, Nietzsche, Freud

A basic understanding of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud is a prerequisite for participating in critical debates in the humanities and social sciences. In this course we will read some of the central texts in which these thinkers developed their revolutionary models of analysis: historical materialism, post-metaphysical philosophy, and psychoanalysis. Though very different, what all three of these thinkers had in common was a rejection of the rational subject and with it the notion that commonplace social norms involved in knowledge, morality, and sexuality represented timeless and universal truths determined by a neutral subjectivity. Instead, each sought to explain how these norms were in fact social constructions that are best explained by analyzing the specific historical and sociological conditions in which they arose. For Marx, this project involved an analysis of how power and class relations contribute to the production of “ideology”, for Nietzsche an investigation into the history and transformation of morality, and Freud the exploration of the unconscious. The result is a radical transformation of our understanding of subjectivity and a realization of the deeply contingent and malleable nature of human existence. We will investigate these theories by examining works of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud within their contemporaneous contexts, drawing on the literature, art, and music of the time as well as more recent history and film as points of elucidation and comparison.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Regional Focus