James K. Wellman
Development of religious thought in the West from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. History of focal ideas: God, man, knowledge, and authority during this period and the relation of changes in these ideas to the ways in which basic issues in religious thought have been conceived. Recommended: RELIG 201
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the main currents in modern Western religious thought. The course begins with a discussion of Greek philosophical antecedents to medieval thought. We then turn to critical figures in the middle ages including Augustine, Aquinas and William of Ockham. This provides a basis for understanding the thought of the Reformers, especially Martin Luther and John Calvin. We then move into the modern period with the study of Immanuel Kant and the turn toward ethics as the basis of religion. As a response to the Enlightenment's focus on the subject we will examine the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, and his engagement with existential thought and the reality of the "other." In the contemporary period we will read the post-liberal Protestant theology of George Lindbeck as an exemplar of the cultural linguistic mode of post-modernism. The course will end with an examination of the recent conversations between religion and science as the unlikely conclusion to the Enlightenment's fundamental rejection of religion as a valid mode of rational inquiry.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
The principal teaching vehicle will be lectures, with student questions >>encouraged. There will also be some films. >>
Some background in the history of religions or in intellectual history is recommended, especially RELIG 201, Introduction to World Religions: Western Traditions.
Reading the first ninety pages of Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind would be very helpful in preparation for the course.
Class assignments and grading