Intellectual Heritage - Belief and Thought

Belief and Thought will trace the various "world views" which have dominated Western thought since the Renaissance.  These outlooks are a result of tremendous revolutions in the spheres of religion, ethics, science, philosophy, art and the social order.  The first revolution is that of the Renaissance itself which rejected the medieval world view and replaced it with an emphasis on man as the measure of all things.  Within each of the succeeding revolutions there is both harmony and contradiction.  The course asks students to examine these movements through the writings or artifacts of key "heroes" in this great adventure of ideas.  In doing so students should come to a better understanding of what it means to be "modern", and of how we all came to be so.

The form of Belief and Thought will be the discussion of readings, supplemented by AV materials, slides and music, although from time to time some brief presentational materials will be offered.  Students will be graded on class attendance and participation, two exams and a final essay take-home exam. The questions for the written exam will test analytical, synthetic and evaluative skills.

Sample Outline

  1. The Renaissance Concept of the Self

  2. The Challenges to the Early Renaissance Concept of the Self

  3. Building on Scepticism: The Origins and Crystallization of a New World View

  4. The Eighteenth Century

  5. The Romantic Revolt: Exploring the Lost Self

  6. The Later Nineteenth Century: Science Rewrites the Bible Again

  7. The Early Twentieth Century, Part I: A New Look at the Self

  8. The Early Twentieth Century, Part II: The "Age of Anxiety"



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