Fall 2024: European, African, and Asian Adventure

PHIL 372 Meaning and Truth in Religion [CRN 76718]

Overview of Course

What is the purpose of life? How do we measure success in life? Am I living in alignment with Truth? These questions have perplexed humans since the beginning of recorded history and have inspired many people to ponder deeply, from the great intellectuals in history to the guy who inhabits the last stool at the corner bar. This course represents a systematic attempt to compare some of the most famous responses to these perennial questions. Our study will be divided into four areas: first, we will look at the traditional answers provided by a few of the most famous global religions that inform the cultures we will be visiting during our Semester-at-Sea: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Chinese traditions. Then, we will look at some of the most interesting (and controversial) universalistic spiritual messages, including Theosophy, Implicit Religion, and Scientology. Third, we will examine a few classical philosophical approaches, including Aristotle, Epicureanism, and Stoicism. Finally, we will look at more recent psychological approaches, including the popular works by such figures as Daniel Gilbert, Tal Ben-Shahar, and Arthur Brooks. Our goal will be to compare these different approaches and integrate our experiences of Semester-at-Sea to develop our own creed and statement of purpose for our own life.