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PHILOS 4B03 Theory Of Value

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Diane Enns

Email: ennsd@mcmaster.ca

Office: University Hall 318

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27529


Office Hours: Thursdays 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. (or by appointment)

Course Objectives:


In this seminar we will read a number of contemporary philosophical texts that explore the meaning and significance of community, beginning with 20th century phenomenological accounts of intersubjectivity, moving to poststructuralist critiques of community, and ending with current discussions of social isolation or alienation. We will consider such themes as the role of empathy in social life, the distinction between mass society and community, the desire to belong, contemporary loneliness and alienation, the social impact of modern communications technologies and nostalgia for a mythical community.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required texts:

Franco Bifo Berardi, The Work of the Soul

Roberto Esposito, Communitas: The Origin and Destiny of Community

Jean-Luc Nancy, The Inoperative Community

Edith Stein, Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities

Method of Assessment:


1. Eight weekly writing assignments (300-500 w) = 40%

Eight times throughout the semester students will write a one-page exposition on a particular passage (or passages) from the reading for the following class, no more than 500 words, double-spaced. These assignments must be handed in to the instructor at the start of the class. The objectives of this assignment are: to help students focus on particular themes and arguments; to prevent superficial readings; to make sure students are prepared for class and have something to contribute to the discussion; to improve writing skills; and to help generate ideas for the final essay.

No late assignments will be accepted, except under extenuating circumstances.

If you are unable to make it to class due to illness or an emergency, you are permitted to send it to me electronically before the start of class. Late penalty: 3% per day.

2. Essay  (2,500 - 3,000 w) = 50%, due April 7

For this essay students must analyze a theme or issue arising from the course content, rely (primarily) on the course readings, and support an argument based on the text(s).

Essays will not be accepted in the Department of Philosophy office, under my office door, or electronically. Extensions will be granted only for medical emergencies or other extenuating circumstances if requested in advance. Penalties for late papers without extensions will be 3% per day including weekends. You must retain copies of all work submitted.

3. Participation = 10%

This class is a seminar, so there will be a fair amount of discussion. It is expected that all students will attend and participate actively and reflectively. You will be graded on the quality of your contributions to discussion, how well they reflect an engagement with the course material, not on how often you speak. To participate you have to show up to class; attendance is expected and will be taken into account in the final grade. If you are kept from class due to illness or an emergency, please let me know. If you miss 3 or more classes without medical documentation, you will get 0 for participation whether you participated in the other classes or not.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF):

This is an on-line, self-reporting tool for students to report absences due to minor medical situations that last up to 3 days and to request accommodation for any missed academic work that is worth less than 25% of the final grade. Please note that this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. It is the prerogative of the instructor to determine the appropriate relief for missed term work. You may submit a maximum of one request per term. The form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence. It is your responsibility to follow up with your instructor immediately (within two working days) about the nature of the accommodation.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Class Schedule:

JAN 7: Introduction

JAN 14: Edith Stein, “Second Treatise: Individual and Community,” Philosophy of Psychology

 and the Humanities, pp. 129-196.

JAN 21: Stein, “Second Treatise” cont., pp. 196-294.

JAN 28: Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Other Selves and the Human World, Phenomenology of Perception, pp. 403-425

FEB 4:  Jean-Luc Nancy, ch. 1 “The Inoperative Community,” in The Inoperative Community pp. 1-42.

FEB 11: Roberto Esposito, “The Implant,” Immunitas, pp. 145-177.

                “Immunization and Violence”; “Community and Violence” Terms of the Political


FEB 25: Esposito, Communitas, pp. 1-61.

MAR 3: Esposito, Communitas, pp. 62-111

MAR 10: Esposito, Communitas, pp. 112-149

MAR 17: Hannah Arendt, “The Vita Activa and the Modern Age” The Human Condition, pp. 248-326.

MAR 24: Franco Bifo Berardi, The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy, pp. 74-105

MAR 31: Berardi, The Soul at Work, pp. 106-183

APR 7: Berardi, The Soul at Work, pp. 184-221

*Final essay due

Other Course Information: