• Rhetorical Theory and Criticism: Rhetorical Theory

    240G 002 | CCN: 31012

    Worldliness: Approaches and Problems

    Instructor: Pheng Cheah

    Location: Dwinelle 7415

    Date / Time: Th 2:00pm - 4:59pm

    4 Units

    The intensification of globalization in the past decade has led to a renewed interest in areas of study related to the idea of the world across the humanities and the social sciences such as cosmopolitanism, world literature, world cinema and world history. However, the term world is often taken for granted in contemporary discourse. What it signifies is far from clear. It is generally defined in opposition to nation and taken to be a synonym for globe. Careful reflection on its philosophical meaning is almost never undertaken. As Heidegger observed, “elucidation of the world-concept [des Welt-begriffs] is one of the most central tasks of philosophy. The concept of world, or the phenomenon thus designated, is what has hitherto not yet been recognized in philosophy”. For example, is the world a spatio-geographical entity? Is it what human beings create through social intercourse? Is the world the largest totality of human beings or does it include non-human living and/or inanimate beings? This seminar is an in-depth exploration of the idea of the world and the implications of various concepts of the world for ethics and political action. We will study four main paradigms for understanding worldliness: (1) World History and Cosmopolitanism, (2) Globalization, (3) Worlding and World-Making, and (4) Environment.

    The first part of the course is a study of different philosophical understandings of the world from late-eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century European idealist and materialist philosophies of universal history and cosmopolitanism (Kant, Hegel, Marx). The second part of the course examines processes of globalization such as financial flows, population transfers and the circulation of culture and their implications for cosmopolitan solidarity and political action. The third part of the course considers the phenomenological accounts of worlding and world-making and the link between worldliness and time. The fourth part of the course considers how ideas about environment and ecology such as the critique of the anthropocene may require a rethinking of the anthropologistic limits of world and its ethico-political vocation. Themes and issues to be discussed include the following: the relation between the world and humanity; the limits of understanding the world as a spatial category; the normative dimension of world and its connection to temporality in accounts of world history and worlding; the role of imagination, mediation, storytelling and action in the opening and making of worlds; the relation between cosmopolitanism, transnationalism and globalization; and the links and tensions between globe, world, earth and environment.

    Required Texts (subject to change):

    Immanuel Kant, Toward Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Project, in Practical Philosophy, trans. and ed. Mary Gregor (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1996).

    G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History. Introduction: Reason in History, trans. H. B Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, ed. C. J. Arthur (New York: International Publishers, 1970).

    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, in The Revolutions of 1848. Political Writings, Volume 1, ed. David Fernbach (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973)

    Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. Joan Stambaugh (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996).

    Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958).

    Ranajit Guha, History at the Limit of World-History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

    [Additional readings may include work by Benedict Anderson, Jacques Derrida, Anna Tsing, Arjun Appadurai, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Donna Haraway and Elizabeth Povinelli]