14 May 2009

american philosophy

Beginning at the end of June, during Summer Session II, I'll be teaching "American Philosophy."

This is the first time I'll be teaching this course. Some of our philosophy majors take the class, though I get the sense most of the students who take it are enrolled in the American Studies major (or minor) where it fulfills one of the requirements.

The text I'll be using is the two volume The American Intellectual Tradition, edited by David A. Hollinger and Charles Capper (Fifth Edition, Oxford 2005). It contains a variety of texts from the early Puritans and Enlightenment-steeped founders up through the American pragmatists and various 20th century thinkers.

Here's what I'd like some help with. You can find the tables of contents from both Volume I and Volume II at the OUP website.

I want to focus upon, on one hand, texts that are historically central and formative in the American tradition and, on the other hand, texts that could rightly be countenanced as philosophical in character, at least to some degree. I also want to be able to weave the texts together into some larger story about America.

So which texts from among these would you choose and why? What are the contours of the larger story they fit into?

And it's not as if I haven't given this any thought yet. And I do have a variety of secondary sources at my disposal, from Sacvan Bercovitch to Bruce Kuklick. But I'm interested in some other viewpoints and voices.