Few words carry a more positive connotation in the West than Civilization. Indeed, it is almost taken for granted that Western Civilization is a good thing. Yet, among the powerful critiques of civilization come from exemplary figures of it. In his Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau contends that most of Humanity's woes stem from civilization, while in Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud maintains that as civilization advances, we are doomed to become progressively unhappier.

In this summer mini-course we will critically explore the validity and relevance of these classic critiques. It will not be a lecture class but, instead, will be based on a close, interactive reading of the salient passages in the texts, as it simultaneous engages current controversies. Few words carry a more positive connotation in the West than Civilization. Indeed, it is almost taken for granted that Western Civilization is a good thing. Yet, among the powerful critiques of civilization come from exemplary figures of it. In his Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau contends that most of Humanity's woes stem from civilization, while in Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud maintains that as civilization advances, we are doomed to become progressively unhappier. In this summer mini-course we will critically explore the validity and relevance of these classic critiques.

This will not be a lecture class but, instead, will be based on a close, interactive reading of the salient passages in the texts, as it simultaneous engages current controversies.

Students in the course will receive copies of the texts. Registration is limited to 15 students.

Class will meet in Room 216 on the 2nd floor on Monday July 24th, July 31st, August 7th, and August 28th.

Class will meet in the Trustees' Room on the third floor on Monday August 14th.

Class will meet in the Balcony Conference Room on the second floor on Monday August 21st.

Norman Finkelstein received his doctorate in political theory in 1988 from the Princeton University Politics Department. He taught for two decades in the CUNY system, NYU and DePaul University (in Chicago). He has lectured on a broad range of subjects, and has written ten books that have been translated into more than 50 foreign editions. Finkelstein's main fields of research and teaching are political theory, international law, and the Israel-Palestine conflict.