Howard University College of Arts and Sciences
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African American Philosophy

Phil 162

Dr. Patrick Goodin

It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One feels his two-ness,--an American, a Negro; two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder. The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.

- W.E.B. Du Bois

But anyone destitute of a theory about the meaning, structure and direction of modern society is a lost victim in a world he cannot understand or control.

- Richard Wright

This course examines the African American contribution to philosophic discourse. African American philosophy is here understood as a sub-division of Africana philosophy, the primary meaning of which is the decoupling of reason from its identification with the Euro-American tradition and in so doing shifting its conceptual geographical space to admit a more universal perspective. In the light of the above quote from W.E.B Du Bois, we will systematically interrogate what it means to be an African American, and in the light of the quote from Richard Wright, we will interrogate it in the context of modernity in general and American modernity in particular. Some of the topics cultural relativism, memory, modernity and the role of the arts generally in the development of people’s self-consciousness.

 

While the primary focus of the course is theoretical, we spend a substantial amount of time experiencing art itself in and outside the classroom through multimedia presentations, visits to select art galleries and guest presentations. The primary philosophical texts by Plato, D. Hume, I. Kant, L. Tolstoy, N. Caroll, R. Colingwood, G. Dickie, A. Danto, N. Goodman and others provide a framework for our analyses of concrete artworks and the particular artworks serve as case studies of the plausibility of the theoretical views studied in the course.

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Aesthetics
African American Philosophy
Afro-Caribbean Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Greek Philosophy
Classical Ethics
Comparative Philosophy: Philosophical Explanations of Evil Across Cultures
Current Topics: Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology and Development
Current Topics: Africana Philosophy and Film
Environmental Ethics
Epistemology
Ethics and Public Policy
Ethics of Medical Care
Ethics of Medical Care
History of Africana Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy
Metaphysics
Modern Philosophy
Philosophy of Education
Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Social Science
Pragmatism
Principles of Reasoning
Representative Thinkers
Seminar on Aristotle 
Symbolic Logic

 

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