PHIL 1200: Philosophy and Society
Thinking about Current Social and Political Problems through Short Stories in World Literature
Professor Luc Bovens, London School of Economics and Political Science
Department of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method
This course addresses themes in social and political philosophy through short stories in world literature. We focus on Africa, Asia, Europe, North-America, and South-America for one week each and read six to eight stories from some of each continent’s greatest writers. We investigate the cultural and political contexts in which the stories are written and discuss the philosophical themes in the stories.
By using short stories written by local writers you will develop an appreciation for the perspective of the people affected. The Nigerian author Chinua Achebe famously cites an African proverb: “Until the lions have their own historians, history will always glorify the hunter.” The same holds for social and political philosophy.
The stories cover a wide range of social and political problems from around the globe. Recurring themes are the status of women, migration, poverty, race relations, war, exploitation, mental health, complicity, and culpability. The short stories are linked with newspaper articles and op-eds addressing the topics under discussion from a journalistic angle.