The Philosophy and Critical Theory pathway
This pathway is composed of two modules, which address some of the major figures and ideas in post-Enlightenment Western philosophy. As a whole, the pathway studies the ways in which this material informed the emergence, development, and subsequent trajectory of German and French critical social theory.
In doing so, it covers a great deal of ground: it begins with the classical liberalism of Smith, Locke, and Hobbes, and closes by looking at the contemporary work of writers such as Žižek and Agamben. It thus provides a broad historical overview of an entire tradition of thought.
Module 1: The Philosophical Foundations of Critical Theory
This module begins by looking at the foundations of British liberalism in the work of Smith, Locke, Hobbes and Hume. It then turns to German idealism, and studies the work of Kant and Hegel. The course then focusses on Marx’s critique of capitalist society, and on early feminist critiques, before turning to Nietzsche and Freud.
Through introducing and discussing this material, the course introduces the central ideas that were taken up by Twentieth Century critical theory. It also offers students the opportunity to study these ideas in their own right.
Module 2: Traditions of Critical Theory
This module builds on the first by continuing to trace some of the major landmarks in Western philosophy, but focusses, primarily, on German and French critical theory. The module begins by looking at Sartre and existentialism, before moving on to address the work of the Frankfurt School. It then turns to some of the seminal figures in Western Marxism – Lukács, Gramsci and Althusser – before addressing structuralism and post-structuralism.
It looks at the way in which such ideas have informed feminist critiques, the work of writers such as Foucault and Derrida, and closes with a consideration of the contemporary work of Badiou, Agamben and Žižek.