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PHL 253 Darwin, Marx, and Freud (3 credits)

This course takes up four radical thinkers—Hume, Darwin, Marx, and Freud—men who revolutionized the zeitgeist of their respective eras in different ways, but all having to do with reconsidering the role of reason in describing human nature. For Hume, we will focus on the turn to empiricism and theory of causality. For Darwin, we will see how his theory of evolution by natural selection challenged the theory of intelligent design popularized by William Paley. For Marx, we will focus on his reconception of human nature in economic terms, and for Freud, we will investigate the shift from reliance on conscious introspection as the source of knowledge to a theory of unconscious motivation. We will ask, how did each figure go against the knowledge tradition of his time, and further, how are these figures connected to one another beyond being skeptics of what they themselves were taught?