David M. Nixon
B CUSP 192
A cross cultural examination of philosophical and religious perspectives on basic questions of human life such as meaning, reality, knowledge, and action, with the aim of developing a sense of the rich complexity of varying cultural and interpretive traditions. Offered: Sp.
The primary focus of the course is The Meaning of Life: What makes for a meaningful, well-lived, worthwhile life? Each of us must answer this question for ourselves, but in this class, we'll get some help by looking at some philosophical and religious perspectives. Philosophical perspectives include those of Aristotle, Socrates, Kant, Mill, & St. Thomas Aquinas. Religious perspectives include Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.
Student learning goals
I want students to have a good understanding of a number important classical ethical theories and world religions. I want them to be able to understand different perspectives as well as their own, and to be fair-minded and judicious in evaluating those perspectives. I want them to learn to work with and learn from others.
I want to facilitate the student’s development as a clear thinker and an articulate communicator. I want students to become independent thinkers who take responsibility for their own intellectual growth. I want them to be able to uncover important assumptions in their own thinking and to be able to critically evaluate them. I want them to develop a sense of intellectual integrity.
I want students to learn to appreciate complex philosophical ideas, and to understand the reasons that motivate people to adopt different philosophical positions (especially positions that the student does not agree with.) I want the student to be able to occupy an insider's perspective, so to speak; to be gripped by the ideas of the course in the same way that the thinkers we are reading about are gripped by them. I want students to learn to love ideas.
I want students to enjoy their philosophy class – as opposed to walking away thinking that philosophy is stuffy, boring, and totally divorced from anything in their own lives.
Ethics & Social Responsibility
Critical & Creative Inquiry
General method of instruction
Reading, discussion, creative group activities.
Just a willingness to fully participate in activities and discussions.
Class assignments and grading
1. For each reading assignment, students are required to write in a Philosophy Journal that they bring to class. 2. There's a midterm & final (mostly short answer and essay questions) 3. There's a creative project.
1. Participation & in-class activities (and occasional quizzes or other assignments): 20% 2. Reading Journal: 20% 3. Midterm: 20% 4. Creative Project: 20% 5. Final Exam: 20%