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PHI 30 — America as a Philosophical Problem

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 13—Mar 17
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Drop Deadline: Jan 15
Units: 2
Tuition: $485
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Status: Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
Winter
Live Online(About Formats)
Wednesdays
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Date(s)
Jan 13—Mar 17
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 15
2 Units
Fees
$485
Instructor(s):
Frederick M. Dolan
Registration opens Nov 30, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Some of our refund deadlines have changed. See this course's drop deadline above and click here for the full policy.
A new political debate has recently been superimposed on the traditional opposition between left and right: a conflict between competing visions of American national identity. For some, the United States is a “creedal” nation in which citizenship is based on principles articulated in such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. For others, America is a traditional European nation-state with membership based on shared territory, history, language, culture, religion, or ethnicity. This conflict has introduced a degree of hyperpolarization and tribalism that many believe is stretching our political system to the breaking point. How should we think about the question of identity? Are there important similarities and differences between personal and national identity? What makes you the same person you were ten or twenty years ago, and what connects America now to the America of one hundred and two hundred years ago? Is national identity real or imaginary? Our readings will include foundational texts by John Winthrop, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Frederick Douglass, among others, as well as philosophical essays on the nature of identity—numerical, substantial, psychological, and social or collective. Students will leave the course familiar with concepts and criteria required to think about American national identity in a philosophically productive way.

Frederick M. Dolan, Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include political and moral philosophy, theories of interpretation, and aesthetics and the philosophy of art. He is the author of Allegories of America: Narratives, Metaphysics, Politics. He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Isaac Kramnick and Theodore J. Lowi, American Political Thought: A Norton Anthology, 2nd Ed. (ISBN ISBN-13: 978-0393655902)
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