Spirituality and Politics
Section 2: MW 4:00-5:50, Hum 464
This week | Grades | General
Professor Stephen Chilton
This course is centered on the question, "How are we to conceive of the role that humankind's spiritual sense plays in our politics?" This question assumes the rejection of two current but wrong answers: first, the answer that we need to be ruled by some set of traditional religious beliefs (e.g., Christian fundamentalism in the United States); and second, the answer that spirituality has no place in our public discourse. We might term these the "Republican" and "Democratic" approaches. I believe that this divide distracts us from the true issues in the society and that whoever can find a solution will affect politics as much as Locke or Marx did. Unfortunately, I don't have any clear answer yet; I only have the conviction that the conflict is a false one. Hence this seminar topic.
This class is for people who (a) want to explore their own sense of spirituality, (b) enjoy thinking about human's spiritual nature generally, and (c) have no fixed precommitment to either of the alternatives mentioned above.
Tell our own histories of our senses of spirituality, including (but not restricted to) our religious beliefs.
My own history: I was growing spiritually even as I swore I wasn't.
Anecdote: "I don't believe in that God either."
Guest speakers: Prof. Beth Bartlett. The Duluth Freethinkers. Prof. Steve Ostovich. Christian fundamentalists. Muslim students (and/or A.J., to speak of his own perceptions).
Do something on the "clash of civilizations" and the related debate.
Job's cry (and Metz's question): "Wo bleibt Gott?"
Nietzsche: what did he mean by saying, "God is dead"?
What legislation would we pass if we could?
Charles Taylor readings. NYT article of 3/14/07: "Charles Taylor wins Templeton Prize" (for advancement of and research in spiritual matters)
My plan is to leave what we read up to the students, so that each of us gets to look at works (and perspectives) that we and the others consider important. I can only specify a couple of required texts here; these are the ones I particularly want to read, and they will serve to get us started. The links are (or will be) to my notes.
|Participation & commitment||N/A||15|
|Extra credit:||N/A||Added credit|
Access | Standards | Participation | Support | Respect | Laptops etc.
|WK||DAY||CLASS PREP &
|xx Thursday, May 13: Exam xx 2 due in my office (or department mailbox)|
|xx 5/15 (Mon): Grades posted on the web by close of business.|
I would like all written work submitted in the standard format detailed here. I also have writing standards, detailed here.
How important is attendance? In this course it is very important. In order to interpret and understand the philosophical works we're reading, you need to enrich and hone your ideas through discussion with others — me, of course, but also your fellow students. And even if you don't learn anything from such discussions, they will help your classmates. Certainly they will help me, both to refine my own understanding and to see where people are having trouble. All of these considerations are made more important by the small number of people in this class; each of us will be depending on the others much more than in a larger class. For the same reasons, all of us need both to come prepared for class and to participate in the class discussion.
I am committed to being your firm ally in your education. I'm interested in you, not just your talents as a political analyst. Lots of things happen to students outside of school that nevertheless affect their ability to learn and perform. The difficulties you encounter in your life may not salvage your grade in the course, but they will not affect my respect for you.
If you have trouble figuring out what to study, or if you study hard and get a bad grade on an exam or assignment anyway, come and talk to me. Please don't just suffer in silence!
Do not use laptops, PDAs, and similar equipment during class. Please turn off your cell phones and pagers.