Conceptions of the Self: East and West

COLL-C 103 — Fall 2024

Aaron Stalnaker
Days and Times
MW 11:30 AM – 12:20 PM + Discussion
Course Description

Different cultures offer different visions of human life. But what are we to make of this diversity? Do we have any rational basis for evaluating the alternative possibilities for life presented by different religious and philosophical traditions? This course examines statements on the nature of human existence from both East Asia and the ancient and modern West, with a special focus on Christianity, Confucianism, and Daoism. Recurring issues in this course include the relationship between reason and emotion, as well as between our more animal and more human sides; problems in life that deform the self; the need, if any, for gods or the transcendent to actualize the self; various practices of self-cultivation; and the relation of individual and communal flourishing. All readings are in English or English translation.