Stevenson Core

Angela Carballino

Angela Carballino: witness to a priests’ struggle for faith

Welcome to Stevenson Core “Self and Society,” or, as I call it: The Meaning of (Your) Life. We will hold class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Stevenson Fireside Lounge (room 177) from TuTh 9:50 AM – 11:25 AM.

The course is just what it sounds like from the title: a class that explores a range of texts to help you figure out the meaning of life, especially your life. One of the key assumptions of the class is that meaning, or meaningfulness, is a good thing. Having a sense of purpose or direction will help get you through various bumps on life’s road. The question, obviously, is what is that meaning?

My Stevenson Core rules.

It may interest you to know that a former President of the United States once tried to work through the meaning problem on national television (with mixed results):

To help you grapple with this problem, we will read the following books, essays, and documents from world history, in the following order:

Week 0 (9/22) Introduction to the class

Week 1 (9/27): No excuses: the philosophy of Existentialism

“Existentialism,” by Jean Paul Sartre, from your Marino reader.

J.P. Sartre (right) at a demonstration with the younger philosopher Michel Foucault.

J.P. Sartre (right) at a demonstration with the younger philosopher Michel Foucault.

Who was Sartre anyway? He sort was sort of the rock star philosopher of France after the Second World War. Here’s a pretty good YouTube summary of his ideas. Here’s a song about him.

Week 2 (10/4): Gilgamesh and his search for endless life

“The Epic of Gilgamesh,” Stephen Mitchell edition.

The Epic of Gilgamesh takes place in and around Uruk, which was where? and when?  . . . Does Gilgamesh have any sense of the meaning of life?

Ishtar and Gilgamesh

Ishtar and Gilgamesh

Week 3 (10/11): Obey the One God

The Book of Genesis and Huston Smith, chapter VII.

First core paper is due first ten minutes of class, Tuesday October 11; see guidelines for writing your core papers.

October 10th – “Genesis: The Art of Biblical Storytelling,” Bruce Thompson, 7:10 PM, Stevenson Event Center; What does Genesis tell us that our lives should be all about?

Week 4 (10/18): What does God want me to do?

Gabriel to Mohammed: recite!

Gabriel to Muhammad: recite!

The Book of Matthew; “The Cow” from The Qur’an; Huston Smith, chapters VI and VIII.

Birth of Christianity timeline

Jesus and Mohammed are the final prophets of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic theological succession. What is the life message of this tradition?

Memorizing the first lines of the “The Cow.”

Week 5 (10/25): Who is to say what is good?

Friedrich Nietzsche, “On the Genealogy of Morals,” from Marino reader.

How did Nietzsche turn the concepts of “good” and “evil” on their heads? What can we learn from him? Do we want to learn anything from him?

October 24th – “Saying YES! to Life,” Andrew Schafer on Nietzsche, 7:10 PM, Stevenson Event Center

Second core paper due Thursday, October 27.

Socrates drinking the Hemlock.Week 6 (11/1): Life is all about questions.

Plato, “Euthyphro” from The Dialogues

What was the meaning of life for Socrates? What did Socrates think we should all be doing?

My meditation on Euthyphro.

Week 7 (11/8): Taoism, the heavenly connection

Is there a “way to the universe”? If so, how can we find it?

Huston Smith, chapter V and the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu

Bhaghavad GitaWeek 8 (11/15):  No doubts: the Bhagavad Gita and Hinduism

Bhadavad Gita and Huston Smith, chapter II

Is our meaning fated for us? If so, can we live with that?

November 14th – “Love & Serve: What the Bhagavad-Gita Says about How to Live”, Caren Camblin, 7:10 PM, College 9/10 Multipurpose Room

Week 9 (11/22): the utility of faith.

“Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr,” by Miguel de Unamuno Y Jugo, from Marino reader

Meaning: can we fake it until we make it?

Third core paper due Tuesday, November 22.

Week 10 (11/29): Where is meaning when you need it the most?

Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Welcome to Auschwitz. What do you do now?

Final core essay due on Thursday December 8 by 1 pm in my office, Stevenson 280.

No classes 11/11 due to Veterans’ Day and 11/24 due to Thanksgiving Break

FranklGrading guide:

Your four core papers will be graded on a scale of 100 to zero. The first will be worth 10 points towards your final grade. The next two will be worth 15 points. The final core essay will be worth 25 points. The rest of your grade percentage (25 percent) will go towards class participation.

The rules:

You are expected to come to every class, on time. You are expected to read the texts and submit the work on time. You are expected to participate in class. I want you to come to my office and visit me at least once during the quarter (many more times if you like).

More rules here.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please get an Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and submit it to the instructor in person outside of class (e.g., office hours) within the first two weeks of the quarter. All course reading materials are available from the DRC electronic library. Contact the DRC at 459-2089 (voice), 459-4806 (TTY), or for more information on the requirements and/or process. 


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