Answer TWO (2) of the following prompts in essay form: One from section A (p.1-2) and one from section B (p.2-3).
(1) Interpret, explain, and evaluate, Heidegger’s conception of Gestell [Technological Enframing] in “The Question Concerning Technology”. What is enframing? How does enframing reveal the world
to us? What characteristics does enframing have? What does Heidegger mean by “standing-reserve”? How does modern technology differ from pre-modern technology according to Heidegger? What is
“the danger” contained within enframing which Heidegger fears? What is “the saving power”? Do you think that Heidegger is right in the way that he characterizes art and artists? How would you
characterize the dangers of modern technology? How does your understanding of the dangers of technology compare with Heidegger’s?
(2) Interpret, analyze and explain Marx’s concept of alienation in “Estranged Labor”. What is alienation? What are the workers alienated from? What are the four aspects of estranged labor? What
is human nature – our “species-being” – according to Marx and how is it transformed by estranged labor? How does Marx’s analysis of estranged labor fit into his overall critique of free market
capitalism? Do you find Marx’s analysis of estranged labor convincing? By Marx’s definition, are all jobs alienating in some respect or only certain jobs or only certain aspects of certain jobs?
In “Estranged Labor”, Marx primarily discusses the alienation of the proletariat, but he also suggests that the bourgeoisie are alienated (in a different way) by the economic system of capitalism.
How might the rich and powerful be alienated? (Use historical and/or contemporary examples.) Why does Marx think that only a revolution followed by socialism will put an end to alienated labor?
Is he right about this? If not, then how might we put an end to alienated labor?
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(4) Interpret and explain Marx’s concept of human nature as it is presented in the essay on “Estranged Labor” (and elsewhere in his texts: see the notes). What is human nature according to Marx?
How does Marx’s conception of human nature differ from other concepts we have looked at this semester? How does alienation in contemporary capitalist society make it impossible to fulfill our
(5) Explain Beauvoir’s concept of alterity – “otherness” – in The Second Sex. What does Beauvoir mean when she refers to women as “the Other” and “the second sex”? In The Second Sex Beauvoir says
that in patriarchal Western societies men are “subjects” who are able to achieve transcendence, while women have become “the Other” or “the second sex” and are confined to immanence (p.27). Why are
men “subjects” and women “objects” according to Beauvoir? What does she mean by this? How does this happen? How does Beauvoir define human freedom? (Optional: Apply Beauvoir’s conception of
alterity to current socio‐political issues. How does the concept of alterity help us to understand discrimination and oppression? Do you think that Beauvoir’s concepts are still applicable
(1) Explain and evaluate Butler’s theory of “gender performativity” as it is presented in “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution”. What does Butler mean by “gender performativity”? What does
it mean to “perform” gender, and how does this differ from playing a role? What does Butler mean when she suggests that “what is called gender identity is a performative accomplishment compelled
by social sanction and taboo” (p.270)? How does Butler’s account of gender differ from traditional, essentialist accounts of gender? How is Butler’s theory of gender related to Beauvoir’s claim
“one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman”?
(2) Explain Marcuse’s conception of “one-dimensionality” as expressed in “The New Forms of Control” from One Dimensional Man. How, according to Marcuse, are individuals actually controlled in
supposedly free, Western democracies? Why have we not used modern technology to satisfy the vital needs of the global population? What are “false needs” and why are they repressive? How do false
needs keep us chained to society and reproduce the capitalist ideology of perpetual consumption? What is mimesis and how does this compare to real critical thinking? How is thought being leveled
down by technological rationality? How does Marcuse concept of “technological rationality” compare to Heidegger’s notion of technological “enframing”?
(3) Interpret and explain Adorno and Horkheimer’s analysis of “the culture industry” in The Dialectic of Enlightenment. What is “the culture industry” according to Adorno and Horkheimer? What is
the sociopolitical function of the culture industry? How does the culture industry homogenize individuals and reproduce the status quo ideology of capitalist business? What is mimesis and how does
this compare to real critical thinking? Be sure to explain the concepts of standardization, universalization, and pseudo-individuality as these are essential to their account. (Optional: Use
Adorno and Horkheimer’s concepts to critique any aspect of 21st Century popular culture and show how it is a form of social control – i.e. how it reproduces the ideology of consumer capitalism.)
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(4) Interpret and explain West’s notion of “white supremacy” in “A Genealogy of Modern Racism” from Prophesy Deliverance! What is a “genealogy” in West’s sense of the term? What is “white
supremacy” and where does it originate? What role do modern science, Cartesian epistemology, and Ancient Greek ideals concerning beauty play in establishing the modern discourse which makes “white
supremacy” possible? What is the “normative gaze” and how does this relate to modern conceptualizations of “race”? Why is providing a genealogy of “white supremacy” important to West? What does
he want us to change about the way that we (as a society) perceive black people as a “race”?
(5) Explain and evaluate Appiah’s argument that racialist conceptions of “race” are illusory as it is presented in “Illusions of Race” from In My Father’s House. What, according to Appiah, is
wrong with Du Bois’ essentialist (and by extension all essentialist conceptions) of “race”? What is racialism and how does it differ from racism? Why is race not a meaningful, significant, or
important category in biology according to Appiah? Why is race not a useful way to categorize individuals? How are racial categorizations harmful to the individuals who are categorized this way?
(Be sure to mention the analogy Appiah draws between library book and racial classification). Do you think that Appiah is (morally and intellectually) right to deflate the concept of race to
merely the most minimal biological conception possible or is race something more than he thinks it is? If so, what to you think it is?