Philosophy of the Black Experience

Course Objective: This course is intended to add critical thinking skills, via the use of philosophical concepts and arguments, to the student’s analysis of the history, literature, and experiences of African peoples (and their descendants) in America and elsewhere. We will bring to bear basic ideas from the philosophical branches of ontology, metaphysics, ethics, political theory, and aesthetics as they may enlighten various issues, goals, successes, and problems in “the black experience.” In considering “the black experience” (which can be, alternatively construed, as black experiences and/or “Africana” experiences), the course will review and explore what we mean by the concepts we use to review and understand those experiences, and will examine assumptions and presuppositions regarding such notions as, among others: “struggle,” “agency,” “rights” and “inalienable rights,” “constructivism,” “power,” “self-reliance,” “racism,” “laissez-faire racism,” “civil disobedience,” “non-violence,” “legitimacy,” “privilege,” “solidarity,” “universalism,” “intersectionality,” “race,” “ethnicity,” “colorblindness,” “violence,” “Afrocentricity,” “class,” and “identity.”
Requirements: There are three required texts for this course. All three texts must be read by the completion date indicated (and sections read by the due dates): The History of White People, by Nell Irvin Painter, The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin, and The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, by Kwame Anthony Appiah. In addition, students will be required to read certain brief handouts treating of such subjects/matters as the nature and tools of critical thinking, logical fallacies, and an overview of the various philosophical branches referenced, above. Also, short writings from key thinkers will be distributed on such subjects as, among others, black power, “Negritude,” separatism, and integration

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