French Phenom & Pol. Phil.
This course will focus on four thinkers within the phenomenological tradition, broadly considered, who have elaborated political philosophies: Merleau-Ponty, Claude Lefort, Cornelius Castoriadis and Derrida. The political thought of each of these philosophers will be viewed within the context of their work as a whole. We will trace the itinerary of Merleau-Ponty's thought from his early Marxism to his defense of Parliamentary Democracy, to his appropriation of Saussure's Structural Linguistics and then to his debate with Sartre. Lefort will be presented as, in some respects, carrying out the philosophical project implicit in the work of his close friend and mentor Merleau-Ponty, while at the same time elaborating an independent theory of Democracy and Totalitarianism. Castoriadis will be presented as a critic of Marxism and as a theorist of society's self-institution and the process by which this self-institution is concealed. After a presentation of the basic contours of Derrida's early work, a good deal of time will be devoted to his so called 'political turn' in his later writings.