(Spring 2005) "Special Cases: 'Uniqueness' and the Humanistic Tradition". The purpose of this class is to examine the role of uniqueness and singularity as a possible foundation for knowledge in the humanities. We will begin with the study of rhetoric in antiquity, focusing on its claims to be the master art of particular situations (and so the master art of all arts). We will then move on to discuss the claims of the Nominalists who, in the late Middle Ages, limited human knowledge to knowledge of individuals rather than of general types. This debate will set up our move to the Renaissance, where we find singularity becoming a defining feature of human nature (for this, we will be reading Petrarch and Shakespeare), but also an important quality to look out for within Baconian experimental method. From here we will move on to the theories of the Italian jurist Vico, who grounded human knowledge in the particular circumstances of an age or time, and then through Kant into the twentieth century hermeneutics of Gadamer, who attempted to balance uniqueness and shared perspectives of different individuals in different ages with the possibility that such individuals might share certain experiences. All of these discussions will take place in the context of the larger question: can there be a general theory of human nature and the human condition?