Character development is an approach to ethics that focuses on the characteristics of noble people. While most moral theories focus on what it means to do good, theories of virtue focus on what it means to be good. What are the characteristics of good people? Reflections on this question are ancient, with thinkers like Aristotle and Jesus in the West and the Buddha and Confucius in the East addressing it. Courage, self-control, compassion, and generosity are among the many virtues that are universally valued. In this course we look at the virtues, their value, their connection to behavior, what ancient and contemporary sources say about them, and the processes by which we humans can develop them. Series may be taught as two separate courses.
Are they a mass of confusion or a world of opportunity? We will survey, analyze, and compare the central teachings of some major world religions with attention paid to both similarities and differences. Traditions covered include Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese Religion, as well as a brief discussion of alternative religions and cults.
In this series we will analyze selections from the Scriptures of the major world religions and compare those selections with each other and with the Bible. Scriptures include the Jewish Mishnah, the Islamic Qur’an, the Hindu Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist Dhammapada, the Daoist Daodejing, and the Confucian Analects.
An overview of moral theories in circulation today, including relativism, egoism, utilitarianism, deontology, divine command theory, and virtue theory, and application of those theories to contemporary moral issues. Issues may include abortion, sexual and reproductive ethics, capital punishment, war, suicide, physician-aided dying, euthanasia, gun control, and animal ethics. Discussion includes both moral and legal considerations. Series may be taught as two separate courses.
The use of textual, historical, and philosophical methods to study the life of Muhammad, the founding of Islam, the Qur’an, the beliefs, practices, law, and history of Islam, terrorism, and the challenges facing the Muslim world in the 21st century.
A critical examination of the beliefs, practices, history, and social dynamics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Includes a comparison of Mormonism with mainstream forms of Christianity and reflections on how religious communities evolve over time using Mormonism as a model.
The New Testament
An academic analysis of the New Testament. This is not a “Bible Study” and will not be taught from a religious point of view. We will use historical, literary, and philosophical methods to shed light on the oral traditions and written sources behind the texts, the development of the New Testament canon, scribal work, and the meaning(s) of these texts. Please bring the Bible of your choice to each session.
The Old Testament/Tanakh
An academic analysis of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. This is not a “Bible Study” and will not be taught from a religious point of view. We will use historical, literary, and philosophical methods to understand the nature, development, and meaning(s) of these texts. Voices of orthodoxy (the dominant view) and voices of heterodoxy (dissent) will be identified and analyzed. You are encouraged to bring the Bible of your choice to each session.
Philosophy of Religion
Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? Are all religions created equal? Is one better than the others? If we think we know, can we be sure? Why do people convert and de-convert? We will look at these questions and others as objectively as possible and discuss the answers given by philosophers and other intellectuals throughout history.
Social and Criminal Justice
What is justice, and what does it look like in the real world? What should it look like? In this series, we will examine the many interpretations of both social and criminal justice that have been suggested throughout history and will evaluate proposals for change within American society.
Themes in Philosophy
Explanation and discussion of fascinating themes in philosophy—a philosophy buffet! Topics may include rationality, knowledge, mind-brain relationship, free will, political philosophy, religion and politics in America, civil disagreement, aesthetics, philosophy of language, philosophy of culture, philosophy of sports and fitness, philosophy of happiness, and philosophy of humor. Series may be taught as two separate courses.
Personal Religion and Ethics Consultations.
Have something in mind? Don’t hesitate to ask.
For more information on the Osher program, visit http://www.osher.uw.edu