Self-Help, Ancient and Modern

HNR 340 - Self-Help, Ancient and Modern

MySlice Info:

Term: Fall 2017
Class #: 12962
Section: M004
Credits: 3

Lasch-Quinn, Elisabeth

Counts toward:
HNR Hum, Interdisciplinary

Course Time(s):
TuTh 03:30pm - 04:50pm

Bowne Hall 306D

Course Description:

“It takes time to live. Like any work of art, life needs to be thought about.”

--Albert Camus

Images of the individual surround us, in everything from covers of glossy magazines and music videos to internet pop-up ads, bombarding people with messages of what they should, could, and would be—if only they possessed this, achieved that, appeared a certain way, lived by these few guidelines, or took these simple steps.

Beyond external image, what happens if we instead think more deeply about who we are? Once we ask the question of who we are inside, not merely on the surface, we enter a fascinating conversation that has spanned centuries and even millennia about some of the different ways there are of approaching the struggle and beauty of human existence.

In this course, we will read and ponder a small sample of selected works by and about some of the early philosophical schools of thought that still exert a towering influence on the history of thought and culture even up to the current day. While these very different approaches to life were debated in lively conversations and brilliant works by ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, we can still see them emerging in modern European and American culture, for instance in movies like The Da Vinci Code, Gladiator, and many others. Our ways of responding to everything from love and friendship to loss and hardship are often shaped by which perspective we take, particularly on the role emotion can, does, and should play in our lives.

This course seeks to immerse students in a particular way of blending intellectual and cultural history with an understanding of philosophy and the arts as a way of life in order to pursue meaning, foster historical awareness as well as self- reflection, and discern the immediacy, relevance, power, and importance of ideas in our everyday lives. As an upper-level seminar, it invites and welcomes all those eager to devote themselves fully to this collective endeavor in creative reading and reflection on the past and present but does not rely on previous study of history or philosophy and has no prerequisites.