Courses for Fall 2013

COURSES IN RELIGION

RELIGION 102 A: INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Professor Peterson

Block 12 (TTh 2:50-4:20)

Starting with the birth of a child and now the world's largest global movement, what does the varied Christian tradition actually say about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who we are, the good life, and the future? Each student will choose in consultation a particular theologian to help the class think through these formative questions. 

RELIGION 105 A: SOCRATES, JESUS, & THE BUDDHA Professor Wisnefske

Block 1 (MWF 8:30-9:30)

This course is designed to introduce students to the central ideas, texts, and methods in Philosophy and Religion.  We will explore fundamental questions about human nature, our place in the universe, and the best way to live as these issues have been addressed by the main figures in the religious and philosophical traditions of the Western and Eastern worlds.  All members of the department will contribute lectures. CROSS-LISTED WITH PHILOSOPHY 105 A.

RELIGION 130 A: LIVING RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD  Staff

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

This course will be an introductory survey of the major religious traditions of the world.  Along the way we will gain insight into primary beliefs and practices, but also gain appreciation of each religious tradition as lived, living and inter-related.  We will focus primarily on the ways religious phenomena live and breathe in the lives of individuals, communities and cultures.  Beyond the traditional focus on historic religious institutions, sacred spaces and holy texts, we will pay attention to individual experiences, rituals, gurus, families, lineages, and local communities as a way to help us understand vibrant religious communities locally and across the world

RELIGION 218 A: RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES OF CHINA Professor Larson-Harris

Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00)

This course surveys three Chinese religious traditions-Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism-in both their philosophical mode and their practiced reality.  We will read rich and enigmatic texts such as the Tao te Ching, the Analects of Confucius, the Lotus Sutra, and others, but we will also examine how these different sources of wisdom combine to produce the syncretistic daily life of Chinese people.  In addition, we will look for the ancient roots of some modern fads such as Feng Shui. CROSS LISTED WITH PHILOSOPHY 218  

RELIGION 282 E: AUGUSTINE AND HIS LEGACY  Professor Hinlicky

Block E1 (M 5:45-8:45) In this course we examine the specifically Christian teachings about who and what God is that Augustine inherited from the Bible and the early Catholic church by studying Dr. Hinlicky's book, Divine Complexity: The Rise of Creedal Christianity. Then we read significant portions of Augustine's great treatise On the Trinity. Students trace Augustine's legacy regarding the doctrine of God with a research paper into Medieval and Reformation doctrines of God in either Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther or John Calvin. Questions asked in this course are: Is the Christian teaching on God a philosophical corruption of the Bible? Is the doctrine of the Trinity biblical? Is there a serious difference between Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) versions of the Trinity? Is the very notion of triunity -- that God is both simple and complex-- intelligible? Does it make the gospel intelligible or does it obscure the simple faith of Jesus? 

RELIGION 295 A: METHODS AND THEORIES IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION  Staff

Block 5 (MWF 1:10-2:10)

By comparing early theories of religion, testing classic definitions and concepts we appreciate and evaluate modern and postmodern methods and theories in religious studies.  Along the way we gauge the implications of thinking about religious studies as a distinct subject, but also think reflectively about our role as observers of the world's religions as part of vast landscapes of human experience.  Prerequisite: one previous course in Religion.

COURSES IN PHILOSOPHY

PHILOSOPHY 105 A: SOCRATES, JESUS, & THE BUDDHA Professor Wisnefske

Block 1 (MWF 8:30-9:30)

This course is designed to introduce students to the central ideas, texts, and methods in Philosophy and Religion.  We will explore fundamental questions about human nature, our place in the universe, and the best way to live as these issues have been addressed by the main figures in the religious and philosophical traditions of the Western and Eastern worlds.  All members of the department will contribute lectures.  CROSS-LISTED WITH RELIGION 105 A.

PHILOSOPHY 206:  SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY  Professor Vilhauer

Block 11 (TTh 1:10-2:40)

Aristotle famously proclaimed that the human being is primordially a "political animal."  In order to begin to investigate the social nature of our humanity and what type of social order enables us to cultivate our highest potential as human beings, we will examine and evaluate the insights of the classic social-political philosophers:  Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Mill.  Our guiding questions will include the following:  Why do we need a social order or political regime?  What are the different possible social regimes, and what difference does it make which one we have?  Who is fit to rule?  How much individual liberty should we be allowed? What should the state's duties be to me, and what should my duties be to the state? These questions will lead us to investigate even more fundamental philosophical issues, such as the human being's essential nature, and the relationship between the individual's good and the common good. Along the way we will find ourselves dealing with concerns that continue to be at the forefront of social-political debate, such as issues of equality, representation, diversity, tolerance, education, punishment, privacy, and war.  This course is reading, writing, and dialogue intensive.

PHILOSOPHY 218 A: RELIGIONS AND PHILOSOPHIES OF CHINA Professor Larson-Harris

Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00) This course surveys three Chinese religious traditions-Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism-in both their philosophical mode and their practiced reality.  We will read rich and enigmatic texts such as the Tao te Ching, the Analects of Confucius, the Lotus Sutra, and others, but we will also examine how these different sources of wisdom combine to produce the syncretistic daily life of Chinese people.  In addition, we will look for the ancient roots of some modern fads such as Feng Shui.  CROSS LISTED WITH RELIGION 218  

PHILOSOPHY 222 A: BUSINESS ETHICS Professor Peterson

Block 10 (TTh 10:10-11:40)

Is all fair in business as in war? Is it a game with its own rules like poker? What makes for a truly successful business for stockholders, management, employees, suppliers, customers, and our society as a whole? We will work through real cases that raise challenges such as the place of deception in negotiation and marketing, expectations in hiring and  performance appraisal, abuse of power, whistle-blowing, corporate giving, going green, and building an ethical organization.

PHILOSOPHY 251 A: EARLY WESTERN PHILOSOPHY Professor Zorn

Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00)

Most of our fundamental ideas about the world and our place in it have developed out of a 2,500-year old tradition of asking questions and seeking rational answers which came to be called "philosophy."  This course examines the development of the philosophical quest in the western world from its roots in ancient Greece through the Roman era.  We will examine the works of the ancient philosophers, especially key texts from Plato and Aristotle, to follow their inquiries into knowledge, reality, and the art of living well.  This course may be used to satisfy the INQ 270 requirement. 

PHILOSOPHY 301 A:  PLATO  Professor Vilhauer

Block 7A (MW 2:20-3:50)

This course aims to offer students an in-depth study of the major issues in the philosophy of Plato in an advanced setting.  In this section of the course we will examine Plato's thought by way of a close reading of his so-called "erotic dialogues":  Lysis, Symposium, and Phaedrus.  These texts will offer us the thematic lens of "love and friendship" through which we can encounter many of the central tenets of Plato's philosophy -- such as the so-called "Socratic method," education, dialogue and dialectic, philosophy and rhetoric, the Forms, etc.  It will also allow us to confront the currently debated question of how to read the dialogue-form, in light of its simultaneous literary and argumentative dimensions. Finally, it will give us the opportunity to investigate more specific thematic questions such as:  In what sense is Socrates a true "lover" and ultimate "friend"?  What is the difference between "eros" and "philia," and what roles do they play in the dialogical quest for wisdom and virtue?  What roles do gender and sexuality play in the ancient world?  This course is reading, writing, and dialogue intensive and involves a final independent research project.

ALSO OF INTEREST

Environmental Studies 240: Environment, Ethics, and Culture Professor Larson-Harris

Block 10 (TTH 10:10-11:40)

In order to think critically about the idea of "Nature," this course will explore how we describe, explain, and relate to nature through language. To do this we will examine conceptions of Nature drawn from the Humanities: philosophy, religion, and literature. An understanding of these traditions will help us gain insight into contemporary environmental debates and the current diversity of ideas about nature. The class will examine some of the following questions: What is nature, what is our relationship to it, and does it have a value? How has religion contributed to our conceptions of nature? How has English as a language and literary tradition evolved different ways of expressing our relationship to the natural world? Have recent environmental activists articulated a compelling rhetoric?

INTELLECTUAL INQUIRY COURSES
Taught by Faculty in Religion and Philosophy

 

INQ 120: LEADING AN EXAMINED LIFE   

INQ 120 C: IN SOCRATES' FOOTSTEPS:  THE PHILOSOPHICAL QUEST FOR RIGHT AND WRONG  Professor Vilhauer

Block E3: (TTh 4:30-6:00)

How should I live? What is the good life? How can I achieve my highest potential? These questions were for Socrates the most important and pressing questions human beings can ask, and must ask, as he believed "the unexamined life is not worth living." They are questions that drive us to investigate what it is that we value most and why, what we ought to value most and why, what we should strive to achieve in our individual and communal lives, how we should treat others, and by what standards we can know and judge such things. Following in Socrates' footsteps, we will embark on the philosophical quest to grasp the truth about right and wrong.  This means that we will strive to move beyond popular opinions about the good life, which we too commonly accept without much thought, and toward knowledge grounded in reasons and evidence.  In this course we focus on a careful reading of Plato's Apology, Crito, and Republic.  This course is structured as a seminar, and is reading, writing, and dialogue intensive.    

INQ 270 & 271: HUMAN HERITAGE I & II INQ 270 G1 and G2: INDIA, TIBET, AND THE QUEST FOR ENLIGHTENMENT  Professor Kelly

Block 3 (MWF 10:50-11:50) Block 4 (MWF 12:00-1:00)

When did the quest for enlightenment and the alleviation of human suffering begin in India? Who was/is the Buddha? What was Buddha's response to human suffering? How did Buddhism begin? What is Tibetan Buddhism? Why are so many Westerners drawn to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism? A fundamental orientation of ancient Indian culture and its transmission, in Buddhist form, to Tibet as early as the 7th century C.E., was the alleviation of human suffering. Beginning with Vedic culture and manifesting in the concerns of Buddhist, Jain, Upanishadic, and Tantric culture and literature, a preoccupation with the enlightened life is evident. This course will examine the origins and development of this quest in India and its migration to Tibet where the quest will manifest in unique forms of Buddhist practice, thought, ritual and artistic expression. Students will also examine the contemporary interest in and growing presence of Tibetan Buddhism in western countries. We will explore this western interest in Tibetan Buddhism in a variety of ways, through film, popular Buddhist magazines, books, lectures, and more. 

INQ 270 C: MYTH, PHILOSOPHY, AND NATURE  Professor Zorn

Block 11 (TTH 1:10-2:40)

We will look at different ways in which people have approached the natural world, ranging from mythological accounts of the world and its origins to rationalistic attempts to understand natural processes in early Greek philosophy and in the tradition of medieval and modern science that it inspired.  We will consider what mythological approaches to the world have in common with more naturalistic approaches developed in the western world, and how they differ, as well as ways in which contemporary understandings of the world embody elements of both. 

INQ 271 L: SCIENCE VS RELIGION?  Professor Wisnefske

Block 9 (TTh 8:30-1:00)

"Science vs. Religion?"  This course examines the clash between science and religion in the Western world.  It will focus on the debates between the natural sciences and Christian thought  from the 17th century to the present over such questions as evolution, the origin and destiny of the universe, and the status of our knowledge of nature.  We will examine how contemporary physicists, biologists, and theologians understand the controversies that arose during this time, and what room they see for compatibility between science and religion today.   

INQ 271 I: JONATHAN EDWARDS  Professor McDermott

Block 11 (TTh 1:10-2:40)

This course explores the philosophical and religious thought of Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), widely regarded as the greatest philosopher-theologian this continent has produced. An index of his stature is the Yale University Press critical edition of his collected works, which numbers 26 volumes, 500-800 pages each. (And that was half of what he wrote!)  We will read both primary and secondary sources-both Edwards's writings and analyses of those writings by scholars of the last century.  We will follow Edwards's life and historical context while we read Edwards's texts on subjects such as beauty, the reason for creation, spiritual discernment, the meaning of history, the nature of the person, and true virtue.    

INQ 300: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES   INQ 300 K: WHAT SHOULD WE EAT? A PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH Professor Adkins

Block 2 (MWF 9:40-10:40)

What should we eat? The question is unavoidable. It must be answered, yet a little reflection shows that answering the question involves us in a whole host of economic, moral, ethical, political, nutritional, cultural, religious, aesthetic, and environmental concerns. Furthermore, these concerns are often in tension with one another.  The fact of the matter is, though, that we rarely engage in such reflection. Our food choices are the result of habit and inertia. Using the work of Aristotle and Spinoza we will analyze the role of habit in human experience. Then we will turn to recent work by Michael Pollan to see how wide-ranging factors limit our food choices and thus the type of habits we can develop.        

TENTATIVE COURSES FOR SPRING 2014

Religion 

RELIGION 204: ISLAM  Staff 

RELIGION 208: BUDDHISM  Professor Larson-Harris 

RELIGION 214: RELIGION IN AMERICA  Professor McDermott

RELIGION 220: CHRISTIAN ETHICS  Professor Peterson

RELIGION 317: SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY  Professor Hinlicky  

Philosophy

PHILOSOPHY 122: LOGIC  Professor Adkins

PHILOSOPHY 205: MORAL PHILOSOPHY  Professor Vilhauer

PHILOSOPHY 208: BUDDHISM  Professor Larson-Harris

PHILOSOPHY 212: ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY Professor Larson-Harris

PHILOSOPHY 253: MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY  Professor Zorn

PHILOSOPHY 260: TOPIC: TBA  Professor Vilhauer

PHILOSOPHY 332: TOPICS IN METAPHYSICS: MIND  Professor Zorn

 
College appoints first Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics

College appoints first Charles and Helen Schumann Professor of Christian Ethics

Dr. James C. Peterson, professor of theology and ethics at McMaster Divinity College, is first holder of the Schumann Chair

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