The Idea of Nationalism

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Course Number
PHIL 588 640
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Primary Program
Course Description
Nationalism has been the most important geo-political phenomenon of the past two hundred years. Its continuing power has been amply demonstrated by recent events in many parts of the world. This seminar course will explore the ideology of nationalism, what it means, its philosophical foundations, underlying assumptions about the nature of human identity, moral implications, and political consequences. In the process, we will explore such questions as: What is a nation? Does every identifiable ethnic or national group have a valid claim to a nation-state of its own? How are claims to national self-determination justified? How do nations differ from states, peoples, groups, communities, and citizenries? How does nationalism relate to notions of "chosenness" or ethnic and cultural superiority? Why do nationalist movements seem to so often engender political extremism and violent ethno-political conflicts? Is national self-determination compatible with our commitments to individualism, rationality, and universal human rights?
Subject Area Vocab