Senior Thesis Abstracts 2013-2014

"Fragile Refuge: A Rethinking of Levinas on the Meaning of Home"

By Charles Strasbaugh

In Totality and Infinity (1961) Emmanuel Levinas described the meaning of home as both a refuge for the self and a gateway to the Other. But his philosophical approach to dwelling leaves home incapable of growth or dynamic change from within. This thesis argues that a more adequate conception of home must acknowledge its vulnerability to transformation, dissolution, political violence and reconstitution. To this end, I attempt to reconcile Levinas's conception of home with all that jeopardizes and renders home fragile. I draw on Hannah Arendt’s analysis of statelessness from The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) and the German-Turk immigrant experience.



"Kafka's The Castle and the Standpoint of Redemption:An Internal Critique of Hegelian Ideology"

By Stephen Setman

We should not feel at home with the world, especially in order to transform it. This sentiment is what I believe informed critical theorist, Theodor W. Adorno, when he called it the imperative of responsible philosophy to contemplate all things as from the standpoint of redemption—that is, to fashion perspectives “that displace and estrange the world, reveal it to be … as indigent and distorted as it will appear one day in the messianic light”. I believe also—and herein lies my principle motive—that as a criticism of the promised “homecoming” of Enlightenment thought, Adorno’s imperative finds compelling affirmation in Franz Kafka’s The Castle, a literary project the goal of which falls nothing short of redemptive transformation.