• Advanced Themes in Legal Theory, Philosophy, Argumentation

    167 | CCN: 77956

    Poetry and the Law of Language

    Instructor: Nancy Weston

    Date / Time: TuTh 2-330P, 122 WHEELER

    4 Units

    Philosophical inquiry into questions of truth, law, language, and their relation, in the format of an advanced topical seminar, whose topic changes each term.
    This term, we shall inquire into the language of law by looking to the law of language: What rules in language? What can? And we shall engage those questions by asking after the law that rules in poetry, where the question of governance becomes more acute as concerns of social order, from which governance might claim warrant, are suspended.
    We shall inquire philosophically into the nature of poetry, to the end of understanding it not as a literary undertaking in the first instance, but, prior to that and as the ground of its literary possibility, in its relation to language, to truth, and to law. We shall thereby come to think further on what language, truth, and law are and may be, as they show themselves in the light of this relation.
    To assist and accompany us in this undertaking, we shall read a number of Heidegger’s essays on poetry, language, and truth. We will then attempt to read together the great law poem of the West, Sophocles’ Antigone.

    Prior exposure to philosophy is not required; an openness to its challenges is.
    Please note: All students interested in taking this class — whether pre-enrolled, wait-listed, or neither — are to attend the first class meeting, 2-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20.

    In planning their schedules, students should be aware that wide-ranging collective discussions, often lasting an hour or more, generally occur after the Thursday class meetings. In past classes students have found these informal but intense discussions to be of substantial help in coming to terms with difficult material encountered in the course. You are therefore strongly encouraged to plan your schedule so as to be able to attend these sessions. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course.


    Heidegger, On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz (HarperSanFrancisco, 1982). ISBN: 0060638591
    Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert Hofstadter (Perennial Classics, 2001 or 1976). ISBN: 0060937289 or 0060904305
    Heidegger, Early Greek Thinking, trans. D.F. Krell and F. A. Capuzzi (Harper & Row,1985 or 1971). ISBN: 0060638427 or 0060638583. [This book is out of print. Arrangements will be made to procure copies.]
    Sophocles, The Three Theban Plays, trans. Robert Fagles (Penguin Classics, 2000 or Sagebrush, 1999) ISBN: 0140444254 or ISBN: 0808577123. [portions]
    There will also be a packet of reproduced materials for purchase at Copy Central on Bancroft.