Religion 085/Philosophy 95: On the Meaning of Life Summer 2014 Prof.

Sugarman This course is meant to be a value to both beginners and to people who have already delved into philosophic questioning and religious life. I want to emphasize that I view all education as continuing education. The greater variety of students and the somewhat more informal setting of Summer Academy make these courses among my favorite to teach. The course will be divided between lecture and discussion. The requirements are simple and straightforward. Students will keep a journal featuring their reactions to the ideas we discuss and their own ideas on the reading. These journals can provide the basis for the two papers to be written in conjunction with the course. The journals will be handed in at the end of the last class of the first two weeks. This syllabus is roughly the one we will pursue. It may seem like a lot of reading, but it is quite doable within the timeframe. We will not read the entirety of each book. There will be reading adjustments according to the pace of the class. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my office phone: (802)-656-4383. Required Readings: Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Alboon The Death of Ivan Illyich, Leo Tolstoy’s The Will to Believe, William James Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl’s I and Thou, Martin Buber The Good Life, Charles Guignon Siddhartha, Herman Hesse Week One    Tuesdays with Morrie: a popular work dealing with how a retired sociology professor faces his own death, and in doing so, relates to a student some of the most basic events of a meaningful life. Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich: according to Tolstoy, this book was very difficult to write, but very readable and includes very clear lessons on how life should and should not be lived. Excerpts from William James’ classic work, The Will to Believe. This text deals with the relation of morality to religion to science. It also investigates the relation of faith to reason, trust to hope, and the importance of taking probability seriously. Afternoon: The film Tuesdays with Morrie will be shown in the afternoon session Neither of these books are about what it is to face death—they are about encountering life’s most enduring challenges and situations.

 

Week Two  Morning: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. One of the most thoughtprovoking books written from the standpoint of psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, in relation to his experience as a prisoner of Nazi concentration camps. A compelling discussion on the centrality of meaning to survival and the quality of life. Begin reading Martin Buber’s I and Thou. Buber, like Frankl, advances a new and original philosophy for establishing positive interpersonal human relations. He describes a way in which we can overcome a world of alienation from institutional, bureaucratic, and corporate life. Buber remains one of the most influential philosophic thinkers of the contemporary era. Afternoon: Video presentations of Viktor Frankl Paper of approximately 5 pages will be due on the last class of the week

 

Week Three  Finish reading Martin Buber’s I and Thou.  Selections from The Good Life  Read Siddhartha Week Four  Reflections on previous readings.  Final Paper: write a 5-7 page paper on a subject of your own choosing explaining how your course of study has helped you to better understand and give meaning to your life and or the world around you

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful