Philosophy 300: Introduction to World Religions Spring 2015
MWF 11:10 – 12:00 18 – 204 (CRN 44537) CSM
Syllabus Instructor: Dr. David Danielson Office Hours:
Office: 10-412 Phone 574-6376 MWF 7:30 – 8
E-mail: Danielson@smccd.edu MWF 10 – 11, 12 - 1
Web Page: http://www.smccd.net/accounts/danielson/Phil.100/ TTH 7:30 – 9:30
Texts:Required:The World’s Religions, Huston Smith
Required:Sum: Forty Tales of the Afterlives, David Eagleman
Course Description, Goals, and Objectives:
This class is an introduction to the world’s religions. It is survey of major contemporary Eastern and Western religions. It includes the theories, practices, history and leaders of each religion studied. There is an emphasis on the similarities under the differences between various religions
These are the Specific Learning Objectives:
1. Compare and contrast the belief systems, practices, vocabulary, central tenets and philosophical assumptions of the major religions of the world in the world today;
2. Appraise the historical conditions that gave rise to (or transformed) these religions, and the influence that these religions have in the world today;
3. Question the relevance and meaning that religion has in the consciousness of those who practice it.
There will be three exams: the first is worth 100 pts., the second is worth 200 pts., A = 1000 - 900
and the final exam is worth 200 pts. (Total Exams = 500 pts., or 50% of final grade.) B = 899 - 800
There will be homework assignments based primarily on the video series. C = 799 – 700
These will count for 250 pts. [The first homework assignments are included below.] D = 699 – 600
You will write a “New Religion” paper based on Eagleman’s book. 100 pts. F = 599 - 0
There will be a philosophy notebook to complete worth 100 pts.
Lastly, your participation will count for 50 pts.
The due dates for assignments will be indicated when the assignments are given. Late exams can be arranged with a drop in grade. Homework/ quizzes cannot be made up, but there will be extra credit assignments to augment some of the missed ones.
New Religion Paper: For this assignment you will choose one of the short stories from David Eagleman’s book Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives. The task is to create a “new religion” which would include the description of the afterlife in the story you chose. In other words, what would be the characteristics which this religion would have? (There will be a handout with more details later.)
Power of Myth: We will be watching the PBS series “The Power of Myth.” The program is a series of interviews of Joseph Campbell by journalist Bill Moyers. We will spend two sessions on each video. We will watch and discuss the ideas raised in the interview. You will need to summarize 5 of the 6 programs: you can choose which of the 5 you wish to summarize. The summaries should be 2 pages in length. The due dates are listed on the homework page.
There are several ways to earn extra credit for the class. By attending Movie Night you will receive 10 pts. If you miss a film, you may watch it on your own and write a two-page answer to various questions provided for 10 pts. Also there will be Philosophy club meetings approximately 3 times during the semester. These are also held on Friday afternoon TBA. Finally, there may be announced talks held on campus that you can attend. In order to receive extra credit for events other than attending movie night, write a 1 – 1& 1/2 page summary of the main ideas you learn at the talks, or Philosophy Club meetings. Any extra credit will be offered to all students.
Further Important Information:
You can expect me to meet the class for all the sessions unless unavoidably detained. If I know ahead of time that I will be unable to meet the class, you will be forewarned. Since these topics touch on very emotional issues, I will at times ask the discussion to stop in order to preserve the integrity of the discussion. I will be emailing you often using the school-provided gmail address. Either check this email site regularly or forward that mail to your usual email address. Thanks.
Attendance: You are allowed 3 unexcused absences. After that, your absences count severely against your participation grade. If you want an absence excused, submit a written explanation; verbal explanations won’t be considered. If you miss more than a week’s worth of classes, see me immediately. (One week constitutes the number of sessions the class meets weekly.)
I expect that you will attend class and show up on time. Repeated failure of either disrupts the learning environment. Since we will often be discussing the readings, I expect that you will come to class having read the assignments and ready to participate. If for some reason you know that you have to leave early, please sit by the door to cause the least disruption to the learning environment. If you need to make arrangements to miss a class and get an assignment, please let me know ahead of time and put it in writing. (I have found I cannot remember all the verbal details.)
Electronic Devices: If you carry a cell phone unless you need to take an emergency call, please turn it off/ silent during class time. If you must take a call for emergency reasons, let me know beforehand. Checking these electronic leashes disrupt the learning environment. Don’t text message! If I notice anyone text messaging, then there will be consequences. If you use a computer in class for taking notes, that is okay. However, you must sit in one of the first two rows and email me a copy of your notes after each class; if you don’t, you will lose computer privileges. If I suspect you are inappropriately surfing the web, email etc. during class, I will ask you to stop and I will check your computer. If you aren’t taking notes, there will be consequences.
For the 2nd class session you attend please bring to class a 4X 6 card with your name and a phone number or e-mail address that you don’t mind that I have. Please put the info at the very top of the card and leave a lot of space below. Please make sure it is a 4 X 6 card. This is the first homework assignment! (There are 4X6 cards available outside my office door if you don’t have any.)
Note: It is ultimately your responsibility to drop, so don’t expect me to drop you if you walk away. I do retain the option to drop any student for excessive absences (more than two weeks’ class sessions.) Failure to drop will result in your receiving a failing grade for the class. If you ask me to drop you and the request is made before the final drop date, I will drop you. (An email or a phone message will suffice: include your student g number.) You cannot receive an incomplete without a written request that is approved.
Due to increases in plagiarism, a brief reminder: When you submit work make sure it is your work. If you use someone else’s work, use quotation marks and cite sources. This includes internet sites! Although it is easy to find information on the web, it is easy to find plagiarized material as well. Failure to cite sources etc. results in a failing grade for the assignment! There is an explanation of plagiarism on the website for this class.
If you have a documented disability and need accommodations for this class, please see me as soon as possible or contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) for assistance. The DRC is located in Bldg. 10 - 120. 650.574.6438: TTY 650.574.6230
The following is the order of ideas which the course will follow up to the first exam which is an in-class exam. There are times when the discussion will focus on a specific chapter from our main text. Come prepared to analyze the readings together in class discussions.
The homework assignment and summaries are to be typed (except for the first one) and ready at the beginning of class. If you arrive without the assignment, or it’s not typed, it cannot be turned in late.
The answers are evaluated on your understanding of the material and on your use of reasoning. (We will be spending time on explaining the elements necessary for correct reasoning.) Do not merely quote the texts or the lectures. I want the writing in your own words. (Write to an audience who has not read the material.)
Turn in a 4X6 card with the appropriate information. This is due on the second class session you attend. (I will take these late for reduced credit, but I need these!) Please make sure they are 4 X 6. (There are cards available at my office door.) (15 pts.)
Meet me during office hours for a brief 5-minute chat. There is no writing for this. (You have until 2/6 to meet for credit.) (15 pts).
In a short paragraph describe the purpose of the notebook. Due on 1/28 (Don’t turn in any notebook assignments.) (20 pts.)
Power of Myth summaries (You need to turn in 5 summaries of the 6 programs.)
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “The Hero’s Adventure” 40 pts. Due 2/18
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “The Message of the Myth” 40 pts. Due 3/9
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “The First Storytellers” 40 pts. Due 3/30
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “Sacrifice and Bliss” 40 pts. Due 4/20
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “Love and the Goddess” 40 pts. Due 5/4
In two pages, summarize the first Power of Myth (POM) video “Masks of Eternity” 40 pts. Due 5/13
Reading - (Up to the first exam.)
Read Chapter 1 (Point of Departure) in Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions for class on Friday 1/30. (This means you should have read and digested the chapter before class.)
Start reading Chapter 7 (Judaism) in Huston Smith’s The World’s Religions for class on Wednesday 2/18.
The 1st Exam will be in-class on Monday 3/2. You will have the questions a week before hand. I encourage you to meet with other students to prepare.
One major credo in Philosophy is to “know thyself.”
In an effort to aid in that process I ask you to keep a notebook. It is a place to explore who you are in more depth than is usually possible in your hectic daily life. What I mean by a “notebook” is not the type of book or paper used, essentially it does not matter. It is the writing at a very intimate level of self-understanding. I have found for myself that a profound path towards self-knowledge is to write. Writing makes possible the grasping of an often-elusive sense of who I am. It gives form to a chaotic, swirling flux of my existence. It is also a practice which allows you to see yourself more objectively and relates to the following quote from Robert Keegan “The subject of one stage [of growth] becomes the object of the subject at the next stage.”
The notebook for this class can be of several different types that will be discussed in class. What I expect from you is an authentic attempt to take yourself seriously. I will ask that you attempt the examples that are discussed in class. And there will be times when we write in class. I expect to see those sessions reflected in the paper at the end.
You may at this point have questions regarding “How much do I have to write?” and “How will this be graded?”
There is no easy answer as to how much to write. Some people are prolific, others are less so. Thus quantitative benchmarks alone are not helpful. As long as it is a truthful process, the results will be important. A minimum amount is to attempt those assigned on the notebook assignment handouts. (Merely doing the minimum, writing on the topics I provide is the equivalent of a “B” grade.) But the more that you do, the easier the assignment at the end will be to accomplish.
At the end of the semester I will ask you to reread all you have written and provide me a summary description and critical reflection on what you learned in the process. This written assignment will be the item graded. I will NOT be reading your notebook, EVER! Other questions you may have regarding this process I hope to answer as we progress in the semester. I will ask you to include the number of entries you have made as part of the grade.
I would like you to begin as soon as possible. A good place to begin is to ask yourself “Where am I now in my life?” Asking this question gives you a sense of the current situation you are in. Part of answering this question is to list the important people, events, situations, circumstances, “works”, hopes, plans, dreams, religious / spiritual experiences, and bodily awarenesses you have. Finally, make sure to date each entry, including the year.
Keep in mind that no one will be reading this notebook, it is for you. So you need not write it for anyone else. (You are the audience.) Dive deep into yourself; the more that you give to the process, the more you will learn.
I wish you well on this journey.
(Many of the assignments are inspired by the work of Ira Progoff Ph.D. in his book At a Journal Workshop, and by Byron Katie’s book Loving What Is.)
Notebook Assignment Topics
These can be written at the beginning of class if you arrive early, or they can be done outside of class. The notebook will not be turned in so feel free to write whatever comes to mind. You are encouraged to write more than on these topics, these are assignments and I want you to at least try these.
1/23 Why am I here?
1/26 Where am I now in my life? (see notebook handout)
1/28 What are your goals for this class? What do you hope to learn?
1/30 Reflect on your first reactions to the reading of the chapter by Smith.
2/2 Make a list of important religious or spiritual experiences you have had.
2/4 Steppingstones: list 8 – 12 events in your life, beginning with “I was born.” Spontaneously list other events that mark key moments in your life. (These events provide an outline for the “story” of your life.)
2/6 Who are you today?
2/9 Record any dreams you have. (Feel free to keep adding to this list as the semester progresses. You may want to make a separate section to record your dreams.)
2/11 What are your reactions to the first half of “The Power of Myth” program?
2/18 Dialogue with Persons: Pick some person important to you. Write a brief history of the relationship. Then write a conversation with that person. Allow yourself to be in a “twilight state” of consciousness so that you are not merely directing the words. Allow the other person to speak from his or her perspective. (Summary of POM #1 is due.)
2/20 Who are you today?
2/23 What are your reactions to the ideas and history of Judaism?
2/25 Reflect on the nature of ancient religious texts. Should we value them because they are old and have long traditions?
2/27 How should someone choose which religion to follow?
3/2 How did you prepare for the exam?
“we must not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we began
and to know the place for the first time.”
T.S. Eliot “Little Gidding” V. in The Four Quartets Tentative Schedule for Philosophy 300 Spring 2015 Monday Wednesday Friday