Weeks 4-8: Screenings and Discussions of “Examined Life”

For much of the quarter, we watched film segments of the philosophy documentary Examined Life, featuring interviews with philosophers Judith Butler, Martha Nussbaum, and Cornel West. The discussions that followed focused on what phenomenology can teach us about the constructed abnormality of disability, whether (given Nussbaum’s criticism that social contract theorists did not factor in marginalized individuals from the start, and thus could not fully account for the rights and needs of non-able-bodied males) it’s incoherent for her to draw so much from Aristotle in developing her capabilities approach, and the accessibility of philosophy — whether Cornel West succeeds in making philosophical rumination accessible to those outside of academy.

We also hosted discussions on the unfortunate news of the rampant sexual harrassment and negative climate at UC-Boulder and Northwestern that came out this quarter: has there been a shift in the entire discipline over the past year that is no longer tolerating such behavior? Does this news, unfortunate as it is,  therefore bode well for the future inclusiveness of philosophy?

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