Winter Semester: Classes & Reading

In fall I posted a list of the classes I was taking. I’m doing this again but adding the textbooks because I think the books one reads are a pretty good sign of what one is thinking about.

History of Philosophy II
(last semester was Ancient-Medieval, this is Modern, though I still feel like I’m doing this whole thing backwards since this 1000 level course is the final course of my Philosophy minor)
An introduction to Western philosophical thought from early modern to contemporary times.
Forrest E. Baird and Walter Kaufmann, Philosophic Classics: From Plato to Derrida
Roger Scruton, A Short History of Modern Philosophy

Plato’s Republic and Paul’s Romans in Dialogue
These are both discourses on the concept of “justice”, encompassing the body politic, the just individual within it, and the entire cosmos. Following an overview of Platonism and Paulinism within their respective Greek and Judeo-Christian traditions, this course will consist of a close reading consecutively of the Republic and Romans, and will conclude with a comparison and dialogue between these two classics and the traditions they represent.
Trans. C.D.C. Reeve, Plato’s Republic
A. Katherine Grieb, The Story of the Romans: A Narrative Defense of God’s Righteousness
NRSV, Romans

Theologies of the Reformations
The multiple reformations of the sixteenth century (Lutheran, Swiss, English, Radical, Calvinist, Catholic and so on) produced a variety of theologies, the study of which will be the central concern of this course. While attention will be paid to several dimensions of the reformations – imagination, art, hymnody, politics, women – the course will consist mainly in reading and thinking about theology from the pens of a number of preachers, theologians, and other characters.
Denis R. Janz, A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introduction
Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations
Peter Matheson, The Imaginative World of the Reformation

Contemporary Theological Themes: The Gift
Much contemporary theological reflection proceeds by examining the category of the gift. The gift is offered as a way of reconceiving God “without being.” It is seen as an alternative to the preoccupation with debt and sacrifice characteristic of certain readings of atonement. It is taken to suggest a way of understanding the relationship between God and humans in non-competitive terms. And it is proposed as an alternative to the metaphors of ownership that governs capitalist economies. This course explores several recent discussions of the gift, concentrating on some of the key differences and debates that arise between them. Special focus will be given to the work of Jean-Luc Marion, Jacques Derrida, and John Milbank.
Natalie Zemon Davis, The Gift in Sixteenth-Century France
Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being
Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death
Jacques T. Godbout and Alain Caille, The World of the Gift

In consideration of the near ridiculous amount of reading and writing required of me I also regret to announce that I will not be reading Barth with the team over at Reading Through Church Dogamatics.


6 comments on “Winter Semester: Classes & Reading

  1. jonathan says:

    I’m very jealous. I regret not taking that course on the gift while at CMU. Looks like you have the makings of a great semester on your hands.

  2. God without Being was a great read though points of his catholic theology tripped me up at a few places. Do post on your reading of this text if you can . . . it will give me good reason to look over my margins again.

  3. Emerson Fast says:

    Fellow Classmate,

    Am I the only one in thinking that Kaufmann and Baird’s selection from Spinoza is possibly THE dullest monument of philosophy EVER?

    Whereas Descartes was a page-by-page pleasure, Spinoza…..blech. He should have stuck with his geometry.

  4. Kampen says:

    Spinoza’s primary text was a drag (he’s far too systematic for me) but I enjoyed Scruton’s introduction to him. Descartes was better but not by much.

  5. Tony Hunt says:

    I was meaning to ask before but now seems as good a time as any, have you had a chance with this class to think through whether Milbank’s understanding of ‘gift’ can be non-violent in the political realm? I believe you had intimated this idea on a post a while back.

    • Kampen says:

      Not yet. We’ve been working through Marion, Derrida, and most recently a published conference which brought the two together. It’s reading week right now so we’re off classes (don’t know if you have that in the US as well?) but I think we are starting selected readings by Milbank first thing back.

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