Recognition: Theology, Ethics, and Politics

Fall 2017
W 1:30-3:20pm
Area II, Area V
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

The cultural weight of the category of “recognition” has swelled dramatically in recent decades. It has figured in significant social movements like Black Lives Matter and in popular business trends like “personal branding.” It seems that recognition is widely held to be an important component of human flourishing. The prospect of its attainment can justify struggle and strategic pursuit. The reality of its deprivation can spark protest and denunciation. In parallel to this trend in popular discourse, theoretical treatments of recognition in philosophy, social theory, and theology have proliferated. Whether or not there is a genealogical relationship between these two trends, the study of theories of recognition not only is significant in its own right as an intellectual endeavor, but also can help us respond appropriately to problems surrounding recognition in various contemporary culture milieus. This class will (a) examine two of the seminal theoretical treatments of recognition from the 19th century, (b) survey significant 20th- and 21st-century theories of recognition, and (c) consider what a Christian ethic of right recognition might entail.

Background Expected: 

Introductory theology OR philosophy of religion OR ethics recommended

Course Requirements: 

Weekly reading of 75–125 pages.
Weekly attendance.
Final paper of 4,000–6,000 words.
In-class presentation.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Final paper (2/3 of grade); presentation (1/6 of grade); seminar participation (1/6 of grade)