Course Description and Objectives:

Philosophy and Culture is an in-depth exploration of three important themes: Reality, Reason, and Expression. We constantly hear these words, but what do they really mean to us or to others, and what significance might they have in our lives? An historical and cultural survey of these themes reveals many different answers to these questions. What is real? The physical world around us? The spiritual world? Ideas, values, beliefs—or are we just kidding ourselves? Equally complex issues arise when we look at Reason and Expression. What does it mean when someone tells you, “Be reasonable”? And why do “reasonable” people not always agree about what should be done? How in fact does one use reason in choosing values and making everyday decisions? Finally, when you “express yourself,” what exactly is being expressed—and what forms might it take (art, literature, music, language, ??)?

During this semester, I will assist you in your initial explorations of these themes. Like any good guide, I will make sure that you know where individuals and societies have gone before in their travels, but I will not force you to walk in their trails; in the end, people must choose their own ways through this partly-charted wilderness. Nevertheless, there are “rules of the road” to follow, including logic and rigor, clarity, and completeness as well as fairness to opposing viewpoints. By journey's end, you will have acquired these skills and knowledges:

(1) Become familiar with traditional thought (both Western and non-Western) on these subjects

(2) Link the abstract philosophical concepts with everyday matters of life and culture, particularly making connections with art, music, and literature

(3) Learn to discuss personal and emotional issues objectively and analytically

(4) Increase your confidence when critiquing or questioning the ideas of others

(5) Begin to develop and/or articulate a coherent philosophy of life

(6) Expand your writing skills, emphasizing originality, conciseness, and clarity

This course fulfills a GUCR requirement in Global Humanities and addresses GUCR Outcomes, Goals, and Benchmarks in Writing, Communication, Critical Thinking, Science, Ethics, and Living and Working in a Multicultural Environment.

© Dr. Loren R. Schmidt, 1999-2019
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